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

Page 4 of 4

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8. Moving Location
You may think one room is as good as another, but kitty may think differently. If the box is moved into a family room where the kids play video games or the stereo is usually blaring, your cat's going to have a difficult time relaxing enough to do its duty. If you move the box to a room where an appliance makes a sudden noise, the cat could become afraid of the box by association.

We live in a completely different world than cats do, Milani says.

"Most of their hearing is tuned in at an ultrasonic level. If a litterbox had originally been placed by a snug, protected interior wall and then moved against an exterior wall where the cat can hear noises from the outside, such as other cats, this can be upsetting to some cats. It all depends on their level of confidence," Milani says.

9. Invaded Territory
"Cats feel most vulnerable when they sleep, eat and use the litterbox," Johnson-Bennett says. "That's why they like to sleep in elevated places and always keep an eye on what's going on around them."

If a cat is in the litterbox and the household's more aggressive cat confronts it, it will feel stress and may start to avoid the box. The same could happen if the box is located near a window where the cat could see outside "intruder" cats approach the house. "The cat figures the strange cat is where its box is located and might decide to avoid the whole situation," Johnson-Bennett says.

10. Punishment Strategies
"When a cat doesn't use the box, sometimes we punish them by rubbing their noses in it, or we grab the cat and toss it in the box," Johnson-Bennett says. "The cat begins to associate the box with punishment and thinks you're saying 'don't go.'" And again, the cat will then use an unacceptable area to relieve itself.

- More Litterbox Tips -

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Reader Comments

Lily    Farilawn, OH

7/20/2012 4:27:26 PM

I have 9 year old cat. he had surgery on his paw and now relives himself on the dining room carpet.

Frances    Beaumont, TX

5/24/2012 12:54:03 AM

I have 4 male cats ages 5 - 13. This is not a new situation as they have grown up together. The 6 year old, Scooter, refuses to use the litter box. We moved into an apt a year ago and this is a real problem for me. I have two large boxes and keep them very clean. He does his pooping and peeing just outside the box and it runs under the box and to the baseboard and this is a real mess to clean up. He has always been very demanding of my time and growls at the other cats if they want in my lap at the same time he is in it and in general is very spoiled as I raised him on a bottle from the time he was 2 weeks old. Help please. Scooter is my baby, but now a pain in potty dept!

Beth    Lodi, WI

3/1/2011 2:05:29 PM

My cat is not pooing in the litter box but she does urinate in it.Even when it's clean she poos in her cat bed.I don't get it!!!

ann    Eagar, AZ

2/19/2011 5:17:34 PM

helpful, thanks :)

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