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9 Reasons Cats Stop Using Their Litter Box

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I find myself sharing these 9 Reasons Cats Stop Using Their Litter Box because we had the problem at our house. Our sweet kitties were easily litter box trained when we brought them home as babies. All was well or so we thought.

9 Reasons Cats Stop Using Their Litter Box. There are a few good reasons cats will suddenly stop using their litter box and we can easily fix that problem if we know which one applies. #cats #litterbox

Meet our two sweet babies Heblee and Hoblee. We adopted them in the fall of 2011 from a pet store working in coordination with a pet rescue agency and a local Vet. It’s our first time being cat owners. 

Indoor cats are supposed to automatically use their provided litter box. There is something magical about that easy training process, right. You just show them the litter box and they automatically know it’s their own personal bathroom. We wish!

9 Reasons Cats Stop Using Their Litter Box. There are a few good reasons cats will suddenly stop using their litter box and we can easily fix that problem if we know which one applies. #cats #litterbox

They were so afraid the day we brought them home. Here they are hiding under the front seat in the car, peeking out between the seat and the door.

We intended to adopt ONE kitten that day but couldn’t possibly leave a twin brother behind! They were playing together in the pet store cage. “How could we possibly separate brothers?” I asked my husband. Did I mention this is our first time being cat owners? 

They had a litter box at the pet store so they supposedly already knew about that situation.

9 Reasons Cats Stop Using Their Litter Box. There are a few good reasons cats will suddenly stop using their litter box and we can easily fix that problem if we know which one applies. #cats #litterbox

Our litter box troubles begin

We started out with one litter box for both cats. It was fine, they didn’t mind. They were young and small. As they grew however, we begin to realize one or both of them wasn’t always using the litter box for urine. At no point in time did they ever poop on the floor but that probably would have been easier to deal with.

I turned to the internet searching for answers. I’m sharing the list of the most common possible reasons below. We found the solution to our problem and an easy fix.

9 Reasons Cats Stop Using Their Litter Box

  1. Aversion to the litter.There is a reason cats are dressed like royalty and snobs in commercials. They earned that right. Apparently cats can develop an aversion to the same brand of litter you have always used. Are they meowing by the litter box? You have to figure it out the hard way just like figuring out why the baby is crying.
  2. Box is too small. Is your cat able to turn around and scratch to cover their business? Does their body bump into the sides of the box? A larger litter box was the only remedy needed. See our DIY Oversize Litter Box
  3. Dirty Litter. Scoop more often and see if that makes a difference. It is also necessary to occasionally dump the litter completely and wash the litter box with soapy water. You scrub your toilet, the cats want theirs scrubbed too! They are hyper sensitive to odors, even their own.
  4. Depth of Litter Less is more when it comes to the depth of litter in the box. They need just enough to be able to cover their business but not so much that they get bogged down. 
  5. Location, Location, Location How much trouble is it for your cat to get to his litter box? Maybe he’s just tired of fighting that battle. 
  6. Lazy Lids Those lids on the litter box are not for the cat, they are for us. Unfortunately rather than solve a problem, it may be creating a different one. This relates back to the size of the cat in relation to the size of the box. It also relates to out of sight, out of mind when it comes to not scooping often enough. You may only need to remove the lid for your cat to feel less confined in the litter box. It’s worth a try!
  7. To Line or Not to Line? Box liners are another thing created for us, not them. Most cats shred the liner while covering their business and can I just tell you what a nightmare that is to clean up! You will need 2 things to successfully use liners; 1. a cat that doesn’t mind shredding plastic while covering his business and 2. a cat that doesn’t mind how deep you’ll have to make the litter so he doesn’t come in contact with the plastic.
  8. Sick Kitty If you sweet little kitty has never had a litter box problem and suddenly isn’t quite making it to the litter box, maybe he’s sick. Call your Vet.
  9. What’s New Did you introduce a new pet into your household? It could be a territorial problem with more than one cat. Multiple litter boxes would help if it’s territorial. Did you do some remodeling, rearrange the furniture? It could be something a simple as a new rug near their litter box. Chances are good they will acclimate to these types of changes.

Don’t

  • Force your cat into the litter box after an accident. This may cause a negative association between the cat and the accident which will only make matters worse.
  • Place the litter box next to their food or water.
  • Place the litter box next to heat or noise such as heaters or in between washer and dryer.

Do

  • Make an appointment with your Vet to rule out infection.
  • Be patient with your fur baby while figuring out the source of the problem.
  • Place a plastic shower curtain liner over furniture where your cat may be peeing.
  • If your cat is peeing on laundry piles, remove the piles.

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9 Reasons Cats Stop Using Their Litter Box. There are a few good reasons cats will suddenly stop using their litter box and we can easily fix that problem if we know which one applies. #cats #litterbox

They are so cute when they are little! That’s why I didn’t explode when he turned over the clean towels basket just so he could lay on them! I let him get his nap out. 

9 Reasons Cats Stop Using Their Litter Box. There are a few good reasons cats will suddenly stop using their litter box and we can easily fix that problem if we know which one applies. #cats #litterbox

They are so sweet when they are sleeping.

As Heblee and Hoblee grew older, they got bigger. They essentially outgrew their litter box. They developed a need for either one larger box or two litter boxes. We opted for the larger box. That solved our problem.

Good luck with your cat(s) and their litter box woes. I hope there is something in my research which is able to help with the problem if you are having this experience.

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8 Comments

  1. Your cats looks like my ginger boy – we do have a cat that forgets to using the litter but she has feline dementia and is very old and I wish I could make things easier for her

  2. Great article. Cute cats. You should check out my tale of trying to toilet train cats. It has been a challenge.

  3. Oh these two are adorable. Thanks for some great and helpful tips especially for new cat owners. I don’t have animals because we live in an appartment unfortunately. Thanks for sharing with us at #overthemoon.

  4. Your kitties are beautiful! We have 4 cats and two are brothers. We couldn’t just adopt one of them!! 😉 We’ve had a few issues, but usually it’s been that one was sick. I love your sweet advice. It’s not their fault if they’re sick! Thanks for these tips.

  5. I’m so glad you took the brother, too, all those years ago. They are both adorable. We don’t have cats now, but my youngest daughter adores cats and we’ve had several over the years. When Mr. Kitty (originally named Miss Kitty – oops) got old and died, I cried and cried. He had his own Christmas ornament with his name on it and every year when I hang it, I think about all the good times we had with him.

    These are all great things to know about the litter box and I admit that I had not heard of a few of these.

  6. I personally have never owned a cat but when I was growing up my dad brought one or two home. We had our issues with them like this and we learned, too. Your kitty’s are so cute and looks so peaceful sleeping. Glad you were able to keep the twinzies!

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