Negative Experiences And Litter Box Problems

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March 22, 2011
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Cats sometimes stop using the litter box and there can be a number of reasons why. Maybe you moved to a new place and your cat isn’t adjusting well to the new digs. Maybe you recently painted or remodeled and the smells, noise, and layout scare your cat. Or maybe your cat has a health issue going on and is trying to communicate that something is wrong. Or perhaps you introduced a second cat to the house and your first cat is, well, kinda mad.

Many cats easily learn to use a litter box and want to hide and bury their mess. Some cats are extremely finicky and want a pristine litter box that is clean and scooped on a daily basis while others are ok with it being a little messy for a day or two.

Aside from environmental changes or health changes, some cats may stop using the littler box due to a negative experience. Many litter boxes are designed to keep litter in the box when your cat kicks and some are covered to be discreet and hide the mess and odor. The design can make your cat feel cornered and vulnerable. If a loud noise or the family dog interrupts your cat while she’s using the box and scares her, it can make her associate the litter box with a scary experience.

If any event in the cat’s environment causes her to freak while using the box, she may develop a fear of the box itself and find another place to urinate or defecate. You need to convince your cat that there is nothing scary when using the litter box and this can mean moving it to a new place, finding a way to keep the dog away from it, or buying a new one or changing litter.

Try moving the box to a quieter place, like a bathroom or room where not many people are such as your computer/office space. If you have kids or a dog, place a baby gate up to keep them away from the litter box. If you have two or more cats you should invest in having more than one box and place one on each level of your house. Cats sometimes want to use only one box and claim it as their own. If this is the case, then having enough for each cat can cut down on problems. A reward based system can also help such as offering treat when your cat has used the litter box and making other surfaces unattractive to your cat.

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