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Cat Litter Box Problem: How to Deal with It

Cats have a natural desire to dig and bury their mess; however, when they stop using the litter box, the issue can be very difficult to resolve. A common problem reported by cat owners is litter box issues because Fluffy can develop a new location preference like a rug, laundry basket, or in a chair. Understanding the issue and making changes will help return her to the litter box.

Why do cats eliminate outside the litter box?

Unfortunately, cats can’t prevent serious medical conditions and health issues that might cause them to choose urinating outside the litter box. Litter box problems can be complex, so you should pay attention to your feline friend’s change in habits to identify the problem and find a solution. The following reasons might explain why cats have litter box troubles:

Medical Conditions

  • Urinary tract infection or UTI can cause painful urination and produce abnormal amounts each day which can cause frequent urinating outside the box.
  • Feline interstitial cystitis is another condition that causes inflammation of the bladder. According to Pet MD, one of the symptoms is “urinating in inappropriate places in the house”.
  • A number of age-related diseases could be the culprit. Older cats have hypertension, diabetes mellitus and arthritis, which causes lameness and difficulty gaining access to litter box.
  • Other serious medical conditions like parasites or inflammatory bowel disease produce symptoms like abdominal pain, frequent vomiting and pooping outside of the litter box.


Unclean Litter Box

  • Dirty litter boxes can pose a significant threat to your cats and may affect them using it.
  • Some cats refuse to use a box containing urine, feces, etc.
  • Because they have a strong sense of smell, a dirty litter box can be distressing for them to sit in.



  • The litter box should be in the right location: not in the open, too hard to access or isolated.
  • When the litter box location changes, the cat will feel anxious and will refrain from stepping in.
  • They are sensitive to smell and hate to use a litter box near their food and water bowls.
  • They prefer a quieter location and might be frightened with the noise of the washer and dryer in the laundry room.


Management Problems

  • If the litter box has a hood or a liner, it might make her uncomfortable.
  • If the box is too small (hard for them to move or turn around), they won’t use it because it’s too cramped.
  • If the box has a cover and high sides or too deep to scratch, they may eliminate somewhere.


How to Deal With It?

The earlier you address the problem, the better. Once you identify the culprit, make a plan and do some actions such as the following:

See a Veterinarian

  • A thorough physical examination and right diagnoses to determine medical problems.
  • Examine cat’s appearance, overall alertness and being responsiveness.
  • Assessment for urinary tract infection and blood abnormalities.
  • Examination of ears, eyes, nose for possible abnormalities.


Keep the Box Clean

  • Clean the box with an enzymatic cleanser especially made for pet odors available at pet stores.
  • Replace the old box that smells or has damage.
  • Clean litter box more often.
  • Check the litter, remove the feces and clumps daily.
  • Clean the entire area and soak it with pet cleaner.


Choose a Good Location

  • Put the litter box somewhere quiet and private where they can access it 24/7.
  • Litter box should be separated from their feeding area.
  • Avoid places where they need to climb or jump.
  • Choose a spot that will not upset her while she is using the box.
  • Provide more than 1 litter box and place it somewhere convenient.


Inappropriate elimination can be frustrating and difficult to control, but getting them back in the litter box promptly is about patience, not punishment.

At TAILored Cat Services, our professional cat walkers and cat sitters are experienced in helping you with your cat and your cat problems. To learn more about our cat sitting services, call us at 425-923-7791.



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