Cats are very meticulous creatures, which is especially evident in their litter box habits. Unfortunately, around 10% of all home kitties will develop some type of elimination problem during their lives, which could stem from illness but also inadequate litter boxes and poor hygiene.
Before you take your feline to the vet, you should definitely try to make his or her litter box more appealing and cat-friendly. In this article, we will talk about the most common cat litter box problems and give you tips on how to solve those issues.
Reasons For Litter Box Avoidance
We can separate all the potential reasons for litter box avoidance into three different categories:
Litter Box Problems
When it comes to litter box problems, those are either related to poor hygiene, subpar litter or design choices your kitty does not particularly enjoy.
Cats like super clean toilets and will generally avoid even the best litter boxes if they start to smell, which also brings us to your choice of litter. If you are using cheaper brands with lower absorption and odor control levels, not only will your kitties avoid their toilet but the unpleasant odors will also start spreading around your home. Additionally, cats might avoid litter that feels weird or even painful in contact with their sensitive paws. Even if they keep on using the litter box in those cases, they will probably refuse to bury their leavings.
It is also very important to find a perfect litter box design to complement your cat’s character and personal needs. Some cats refuse to do their business inside hooded litter boxes, some of them are deterred by high-sided litter trays, and others may find it difficult to go to the toilet if the litter is too small.
Some cats also dislike the use of liners since they usually retain liquid, especially when paired with low-absorbing cat litter. Apart from remaining moist at all times, the litter is likely to start emanating unpleasant odors in these types of scenarios.
Finally, the placement of the box is also important. Ideally, you want to put it in a low-traffic area with multiple escape routes. This will provide your kitty with all the privacy he or she needs and remove the potential feeling of entrapment, which puts their natural defense instincts at ease. You should also place the box so that your cat can reach it quickly and without any difficulties. This especially goes if you have kittens since felines have extremely poor bladder control at a very young age and might not make it to the box if it is too far away.
Apart from being ultraclean, cats are also highly territorial and accustomed to exhibiting alpha behavior toward other pets in your home. Litter box bullying and guarding are some of the most common reasons why cats start eliminating outside of the litter box in a multi-cat household.
Alpha cats will try to demonstrate their dominance by preventing other felines from entering and using the box or bullying them once they are inside. If this happens, you need to be aware of the problem and start working on a potential solution.
If you have multiple cats that grew up together, sometimes they will turn potty time into playtime. However, you do not want your cats to play around in litter, especially if they have favorite toys they carry around wherever they go.
Lastly, adding a new animal or family member to the household could also stress your cat to the point where he or she starts exhibiting unusual behavior, including the avoidance of the litter box.
Here, we are mostly talking about certain phycological barriers that prevent your pet from going inside his or her litter box. They can usually be defined as negative associations with the usage of the box, like connecting it with painful eliminations due to illness or stress.
As you might imagine, these reasons are the most difficult to identify and discern and may even require some professional help. In any case, if you have not made any changes to your household or adopted new pets and if you have tried all the other tricks concerning litter box placement, it is best to speak with your veterinarian to rule out the possibility of any health issues.