Why a cat may stop using a litter box
Don’t assume that your cat likes the litter because he/she uses it. Just because we have used a gas station restroom, port-a-john, or a public rest room does not mean we liked it, it was just the best option at the time.
We do not train our cats to use a litter box. We may show them where it is, but they use it instinctively because it works for them, not because it is “right.” Similarly, if they eliminate outside of their box, they are not “breaking the rules”. They do not know that eliminating out of their box is “wrong”. They are doing what they have always done--eliminating where they want to. Do not punish. Your cat does know when you are angry, but they do not understand why.
Don’t make arbitrary changes. If you are making changes to the litter box (es), be sure you have a plan. Be patient. Be observant. Feel free to ask our staff for guidance so that we can help you.
Some reasons why a cat may stop using the litter box are:
Inconsistencies regarding any of the below:
Too dirty (for some cats that means used once)
Size of box
Style of box (covered vs. open)
Addition of plastic liner
Competition (ideally, should have 1 more box than the number of cats)
Location (doors, stairs, other pets)
Depth of litter
Smell of litter (or litter area, deodorizers)
Taste of litter
Feel of litter
Effectiveness of litter (ease of burying, absorbency)
Painful experiences at the box (medical problems with voiding urine or passing stool)
Frightening experiences at the box (dogs, children, adults--punishment, mechanical equipment)
GENERAL LITTER RECOMMENDATIONS
(Consider Chewy.com or Amazon if not readily available)
Plain clay litter
Premium Choice Carefree Kitty, usually available at pet stores.
Unscented Scoopable (clumping) Litter
- Everclean (6 varieties)- unscented formula.
- Arm and Hammer Unscented. Note that baking soda is bitter tasting, and not readily accepted in the litter pan, but cats do seem to choose this brand.
- Scoop-away Unscented. This brand label has changed multiple times. Used to read “Scoop-away Free”.
- Premium Choice unscented. Available at Pet Supplies Plus, also in bulk quantities.
- Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Multi-Cat
** Note that Fresh Step Unscented litter is objectionable to many cats.
Please let us know what is available to you and what litter you think your cats prefer. Brand availability is always changing.
Converted Storage Bins
In some cases, a converted storage bin may serve as an excellent solution to certain problems, such as large cats that find the average commercially available litter box too small, cats that tend to urinate on or over the edge of a box, or cats that scratch the litter a bit too enthusiastically and fling litter across the room.
Here are photos of the converted storage bins. These are 40 gallon sized bins, and you can use a coping saw or something similar to cut the door. Kitchen scissors may also be used, but they can be hard on the hands. We recommend sanding the edges a little, afterwards. The door height can be variable. For most cats, the lower edge of the doorway should be about 4" up from the ground so that 2-3" of litter can be added to the box with some wiggle room. Some cats like to pile their litter really high in the doorway, so a higher entrance means no (or at least LESS) spillover! Don't forget that you can place the lid upside down under the bin as a litter trap, since the lid is a little larger than the base of the tub.