Can I Re-Train My Cat to Use the Litterbox?

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains how a cat who once used the litterbox with no problem now pees outside of the litterbox.

By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC | Posted: July 22, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: We have the biggest litterbox that money can buy and still my cat backs all the way to the edge and pees. She never squats. She didn’t do this until a few years ago. I caught her peeing outside of the litterbox today and pushed down on her back a little bit but she still managed to get pee on the floor outside of the litterbox. I've looked up so many different solutions and none have worked. Is there any way that I can re-potty train my cat?
 
A: In order to modify your cats’ annoying litterbox habit of standing and backing into the corner of the litterbox while urinating, first identify the triggers of the behavior. Determining the cause of her behavior will help you come up with a successful and long- term solution that works for both her and you.

One or a few factors could contribute to how your cat is urinating in her litterbox. She may have arthritis that is causing her pain when she squats. If she is uncomfortable squatting, pushing down on her back will increase the pain and will not change her behavior. The number of litterboxes, the size, their locations and other resident dogs and cats in the household can also influence her litter-box behavior. From your description, it sounds like she is positioning herself in the litterbox so that she can make a quick getaway.

Instead of spending lots of money on litterboxes, use large, translucent 66 qt. Sterlite Clearview storage containers. Ideally, you should have one more then you have cats in the household. If you have two cats, then you need three boxes. Sterlite boxes are 12 inches tall, so when your kitty stands while urinating, the urine will stays contained inside the box. If the box is hard for her to jump into, cut one side down into a “U” shape. Other clear plastic storage containers can make good litterboxes. As long as they’re large and clear, cats can see through them and the litter and excrement stay inside of the box.

Place the new litterboxes throughout your house in locations where your cat will not feel she can be ambushed or trapped by another animal. Good locations for litterboxes are places where your kitty will have great views of the whole room, out the door and down the hall, if there is one. If possible, avoid putting litterboxes in closets, behind doors, in cabinets and bathrooms since cats can feel trapped in those locations.

Even though your cat slightly misses the litterbox, be thankful she is using it. Many cats, depending on the circumstances, will urinate completely outside of the box.

Read more articles by Marilyn Krieger here>>

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