Our cat, Lucy, is a picky, finicky kitty! Perhaps it’s the Siamese part of her that makes for some rather unusual behavior twists or something else, but Lucy isn’t your usual domestic house cat. If she doesn’t like something we do, she tells us about it. She is vocal and demonstrative in other ways.
Lucy’s loudest complaint pertains to her litter box. If it isn’t perfect, we will hear about it. If we don’t listen to her and fix the problem, she deposits “presents” in other locations. Over the years, we have learned to “read” our girl and yes, we try to please her. That’s because the consequences are not pleasant.
Lucy wants her litter box to remain in one location. Heaven help us if we try to move it out of the laundry room to clean the floor. She wants her box cleaned a minimum of twice a day and would prefer it to after her every visit. The amount of litter must be “just so.” And Heaven forbid we should change brands or fragrances with her litter!
Why Cats Stop Using Their Litter Boxes
Reasons abound why a feline refuses to use the litter box. Cats are notoriously clean animals. They prefer to hide their feces and certainly don’t want it to smell. So if a cat suddenly stops using the box, a problem exists. Your job is to figure out the reason and solution.
Reasons Why Your Cat Has Stopped Using Her Litter Box
- The box isn’t clean enough to suit her. Some kitties want their “bathroom” to be spotless.
- The box is too small. If the box isn’t large enough, the cat will be uncomfortable in it and may choose to “go” somewhere else.
- Kitty’s box has a lid on it. Some cats prefer the privacy of a cover, but some really dislike it. My Chico likes the cover on his box, but Lucy wants hers to be open.
- Too much or not enough litter. Again, you’ll need to determine which your pet prefers. Most cats want enough litter to cover their poop or pee but not so much that they sink into it.
- Kitty doesn’t like the fragrance of the litter. Cats have sensitive noses, a strong sense of smell. Buy unscented litter to avoid that problem. If you keep it clean, the odor won’t drive you away.
- Stress in the home. A recent move, people arguing, a child going away to college. Any change in their lifestyle can present issues that cause your cat to pee or poop outside the littler box.
- A new cat. One guaranteed event to cause anxiety in your cat is to bring home another feline. Might be a kitten or an adult but either is a stress issue for most cats. Prepare your existing cat for a new arrival. Keep the newcomer isolated for a couple days until they have time to sniff each other under a closed door. Rub the new kitty with a towel and then rub your existing cat with that towel until they begin to smell similar. Supervise their meetings and keep them short at first until you are sure both are comfortable.
- Each cat should have their own litter box. Yes, I know they likely will use each other’s box, but it’s important that there are enough boxes. Some experts advocate you have an extra box on hand, but not all of us have space for multiple boxes.
- Behavioral issues. Some cats like to make a point when they are unhappy with you. Unfortunately for you, that point is often to poop or pee where they shouldn’t. Try to find the source of her unhappiness. It might be she is just annoyed at you about something. Perhaps she wanted a treat and you ignored her. Cats will misbehave as their way of pouting. The difficulty is in determining whether the cause of the behavior is a real problem or just something imagined by your pet.
- Some cats prefer a special type of litter. We used a clumping, clay litter for several years and all of a sudden, Lucy decided she didn’t like that. When we switched to a cheap, plain litter, Lucy was happy and resumed using the box instead of the floor nearby. It does mean cleaning the box and switching out litter more often.
Should your cat not pee or poop in her box or anywhere else, take her to the vet at once. She may have a urinary tract infection or kidney issues. It’s important to know her behaviors and attitude so you can tell the difference between a physical problem or temper.