Why Has My Cat Stopped Using The Litter Box?

January 30, 2019

Cats are picky about their toilets. Once they find one that works, they tend to stick with it, without feeling the need to switch it up a bit and eliminate elsewhere from time to time. Thus, if your cat used the litter box regularly with no issues and suddenly stopped, that means that an unpleasant or undesirable change has occurred. Here are the top problems that may make your cat stop using the litter box.

New Litter

Even if you got one of the best litter boxes in the world, it does not make any difference if the litter is not right. The truth is that cats do not enjoy trying out different litters all the time. Thus, if you switch to a new brand, your cat might not be happy about the change, particularly if the litter is scented or has a different texture in comparison to the old one.

If you have recently replaced your old litter with a new kind, this may be the reason why your cat is avoiding the litter box. Switch back to the old brand and see if that solves the issue.


Moving the litter box to a different location is always a bad idea. In fact, it is one of the most common reasons for improper elimination. Even if you have carefully chosen the new spot, your cat might still find the change confusing or troublesome and eliminate elsewhere.

In case you have recently relocated the litter box and the beginning of house soiling issues coincides with this change of place, just move the litter box to its original position and everything should soon go back to normal.

Growing Up

While getting a new litter box can also cause some litter box avoidance issues at first, it is sometimes necessary. Cats like their litter boxes to be comfy, so if your cat has outgrown his or her litter box, this may be the reason why your friend has decided to seek out a more comfortable toilet. Check whether there are at least a couple of inches of free space on all sides when your cat is in the litter box and if this is not the case, it is time to get a larger toilet for your friend.

Environmental Changes

Cats are real empaths and they can sense if someone is unwell, if something is wrong in the household or if something is different about the atmosphere at home. If you and/or other members of your family are under considerable stress, if someone has moved in or out, if you have got a new pet, if you have moved to a new home recently or if there have been some radical changes in your mood, health, behavior or schedule, your cat is sure to notice.

As a consequence, your feline friend may be under stress or angry about these environmental changes and may choose to eliminate somewhere else out of rebellion, fear or any other negative emotion. There is nothing much you can do but provide support and affection and wait for your friend to feel safe and happy again.

cat sleeping in a cardboard box


As you probably already know, cats want their toilets to be clean at all times. That is why they often refuse to use litter boxes that contain excrement regardless of whether they or another cat produced it. However, if you remove excrement regularly and your cat still avoids the litter box, the reasons may be found below the surface.

Cats have a better sense of smell than we do, so they can sense if there is still some urine or feces left in the nooks and crannies. For example, if the litter box is slightly damaged due to scratching, the damaged areas may contain bacteria responsible for the foul smell of the litter box.

Even if you do not notice that the box is smelly, your cat does, so use a cat-safe disinfectant to thoroughly clean the litter box and see if your cat will decide to start using it again.

Health Issues

If none of the suggested solutions work, the reason why your cat has stopped using the litter box may lie in health problems. The underlying issue may be anything from a urinary infection to kidney stones. It is wise to pay a visit to the vet and see if there is any medical problem that needs solving and that may be causing your cat’s sudden change in toilet behavior.

Bottom Line

The reasons why a cat may stop using the litter box are numerous and varied. However, they are usually related to recent changes in litter, litter box or the overall environment, as well as increased levels of stress, inadequate hygiene, and health issues. Some of these problems are easily fixed, some require more patience.

Still, it is always a good idea to go to the vet and make sure your cat is perfectly healthy and the reason for his or her litter box avoidance lies in external factors. That way, you get to know that your cat is fine, which is what matters most, and you can peacefully proceed to try out our easy tips for solving the problem of improper elimination.

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