Litterbox Lessons

Has your cat stopped using the litterbox? Learn the 10 most common reasons and how you can prevent them from happening in your home.

By Peggy Scott

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5. Box Size
The container itself may be the culprit. The truth is, size, at least where litterboxes are concerned, does matter. A small cat or kitten will need a box or pan shallow enough to climb into easily, Bebiak says. Expect your box to grow with your cat. The small pan that's perfect for your kitten won't do the job if he grows up to be a 20-pound adult. "Cats need enough 'prime real estate' in order to be happy with their boxes," Hunthausen says.

A litterbox is never one-size-fits-all, Johnson-Bennett says. Different cats have different tastes and needs. You may have to try a couple of different kinds of boxes before you find one that works best for you and your cat.

6. Privacy Issues
Privacy is an issue for some cats, Bebiak says, which could be a problem if the box is located in a high-traffic area.

Cats are solitary animals, says Myrna Milani, DVM, an animal behaviorist who works out of the Westminster Animal Hospital in Westminster, Vt.

"We don't think about being respectful of animals' feelings," she says. Cats are "evolutionarily programmed" to follow an elimination ritual to cover their scent to protect them from predators. This ritual calls for peace and quiet, she says.

7. Litterbox Count
Multicat households may not have enough boxes available to satisfy each cat's need.

In an ideal world there would be one box for each cat, Prange says. The problem is compounded if some cats are particularly territorial or aggressive about usage.

"There are cats that simply will not defecate and urinate in the same box, Milani says. "So you may have to have two boxes for one cat."

More cats in the household can introduce more litterbox problems. Some cats are able to use one box, whereas others are not. You'll have to experiment with the new addition and immediately address specific litterbox needs.

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Reader Comments

Tammy    Schofield, WI

9/14/2009 4:55:40 AM

OK, So I know the problem is #7. We have 4 litter boxes. 4 Cats. I scoop the boxes everyday and my 8 year old Manx has refused to use any of the litter boxes since my Husband moved in with his kitten over a year ago. All the other cats are fine with using the boxes but my Manx is Pooping and Peeing right next to the boxes instead of in them! This is madding to say the least! I have tried moving one box about 10 feet away from the rest to see if she would start using that one but no, she just Poop's and Pee's next to that one too! She has also Pee's in several other places in the house including my kitchen counter! I'm afraid my leather couch or rocker or one of the beds will be next. All the cat's are super sweet and wonderful but I'm afraid we may have to get rid of our Manx. What do we do?

Shelly    Beaufort, SC

1/25/2008 10:48:34 AM

how can i make my cat keep using her litterbox

Theresa    Papillion, NE

1/16/2008 11:47:16 AM

My cat is 18 years old and does not make mistakes. She was just at the Vet and nothing has changed. I am wondering if she could be senial>>????

Shelley    Cleveland, OH

6/28/2007 6:04:57 PM

Excellent tips.

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