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Cat Litter Box Problem? A Look At Behavioral Issues

| June 10, 2018

Cat Litter Box Problem
There may be more than one cause of a cat litter box problem, but they come from one of two categories. If you’ve read my article on the physical causes of this dilemma, then you already know that this problem is either physical, or behavioral.

Since your cat can’t tell you what’s going on, you have to rule out each possible cause, until you are left with the most logical answer. This is known as a diagnosis of exclusion.

The first step here is to have a consultation with your vet. Always assume that your cat has a physical problem as the cause, unless your vet says otherwise.

If your vet has given the all clear, then you’re going to have to assume, for the moment, that your litter box problems are behavioral. Let’s try to understand our cat’s point of view and see if we can think of some behavioral reasons for not using the litter box.

1. Dirty Box – some cats will use a dirty box without complaining, but others are fussy. In any case, clean your litter box at least once per day. You should change your litter at least every few weeks, unless it gets too dirty more quickly than that. Whenever you change the litter, wash and dry the litter box thoroughly. If you have a hooded box, be sure to wash the lid also.

2. Box Odor – some cats will refuse to use a litter box if it doesn’t smell right. Remember, that means smell right to the cat, not to you. You might be thinking that your clean box smells just fine. This is not always the case.

If you didn’t clean it well enough, your cat will know. If you used a scented cleaner, or didn’t rinse it well enough, it may not smell right to your cat. It’s recommended that you use a solution of one part bleach to 30 parts water to help prevent the spread of parasites and recurring infections. Rinse well and dry thoroughly! When you’re finished, the box should not smell like cat waste, soap, or bleach.

3. Litter Box Odor – some cats simply prefer the odor of one brand or type of litter over another. Even unscented litters have an odor your cat can detect and may not like. Be prepared to try different types and brands until you find the right one for your cat.

4. Type of Litter – your cat may not like the type of cat litter you use. When you switch litters, do it slowly. Try adding 20 percent new litter to 80 percent old, and then increasing the amount of new litter over several days until you’re only using the new litter.

5. Litter Box Type – the shape, size, and type of box does matter. For example, some cats may like a hooded box, while others prefer the open kind. Perhaps your cat would like higher walls, or a larger box. If you’ve recently changed litter boxes, this could be causing a problem.

6. Number of Boxes – in multi-cat households, territory is at a premium. Use the one plus one rule when selecting how many boxes you’ll need in order to prevent traffic jams. That means one box for each cat, plus one extra so that there is always a free box available. Having more boxes also keeps each box a little cleaner, which makes the scooping chore a bit easier on you.

7. Location Choice – in some cases, you just can’t find a good spot for the box, and you’ll have to do your best. If your cat is not pleased with the location of the box, she may stop using it. Always try to keep the box in a low noise and low traffic area. Busy areas like laundry rooms and kitchens are usually not good places.

8. Territorial Issues – territorial arguments are common in multi-cat households. Some cats like to sneak up on others when they’re using the box and pounce. If your cat is attacked every time he’s in the box, he may grow to hate the box. This is where the one plus one rule for multi-cat households is most important.

9. Stress – if your cat is stressed by a recent move, a new addition to the household, or perhaps simply a behavior shift on the part of a family member, this may be at the root of the box issue. Try to think about what might have changed recently in your cat’s life, and then try to ease whatever stress she’s under.

Cat litter box problems can usually be solved, once you know the cause. The solution doesn’t have to mean getting rid of the cat. Your veterinarian needs to first rule out physical causes so you can tackle the behavior side of things. Think like a cat, and you’ll be able to solve your box problems.

Copyright & Credit:

Article Source: Kurt Schmitt is an experienced cat owner and offers advice on cat litter box problems and many other cat care subjects at Cat Lovers Only Feel free to grab a unique version of this article from the cat litter box problem Articles Submissions Service

Photo copyright and courtesy: Lena Povrzenic – stock.xchng

Category: Feline Articles, Feline Behaviour, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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