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 2 of 4

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The experts add that when selecting a private, accessible, quiet place for your cat's box, keep in mind the room's primary use. "If you use a laundry or utility room, don't put the box near anything that might suddenly make noise and scare the cat, such as water heaters, furnaces or washing machines," Bebiak says. And skip the bathroom; the room's humidity can affect a litter's ability to dry properly.

3. Unclean Box
The reason for box avoidance could be right under your nose and kitty's.

"Not only is a cat's sense of smell hundreds times sharper than ours, their noses are also 20 times closer to a smell's source, so they should be the final judge of what's clean enough," Hunthausen says.

"Cats would like [the litterbox] cleaned every time they use it. "They don't want to go where they've been before. They want the waste gone and buried. We need to re-educate cat owners that a box should be cleaned at least once daily. If a cat smells foulness, he'll just keep digging to find clean litter," Prange says.

Johnson-Bennett has three cats and scoops twice a day. "We don't want to smell litterbox smells and neither does the cat," she says. "They want to smell their own scent or a neutral smell." She keeps one box in her office and cleans it so often "no one ever knows it's there."

4. Litter Choice
If you've recently switched litter brands, your cat may be displaying its displeasure. Changing litters because a new one was on sale or the store around the corner was out of stock may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could be to your cat.

"Some cats are rather particular," Hunthausen says, noting that something as innocuous as a liner could also cause problems. "Some cats, if they're really strong diggers, can snag their claws on the liner," he says.

Johnson-Bennett agrees cats are not big fans of change and can react negatively if you switch brands on them. She and her cats prefer an unscented clumping litter one that does the job without any perfumes or additives to offend a cat's sensitive nose. Sometimes the problem is underfoot. Prange says cats with extra-sensitive feet can develop litter aversion syndrome from the discomfort of stepping on certain harder compounds.

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Reader Comments

Deb McMillan    Fairfield Twp, OH

3/26/2007 6:42:46 AM

In August of 2006 there was a new study released showing a 40% reduction in the inappropriate soiling of cats that did not use the litter box consistently by spraying a deodorant on the inside of covered cat boxes, and scooping clumping litter out twice per day. The observations that I personally have made with my own cats is that they do not like clumping litter and they do not like the odor in their covered boxes.

The solution is pretty simple, use baked clay litter not clumping and used odorxit magic to eliminate the odor by spraying the inside of the cover once or twice per month.

TINA    CHARLOTTE, NC

11/20/2006 7:55:44 AM

MY CAT WILL URINATE IN THE BOX BUT WANTS TO GO OUTSIDE FOR THE OTHER. HE USED THE BOX FOR ABOUT THE FIRST 6M.

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