If your cat doesn’t use their litter box, it can be a little distressing. However, it’s not uncommon for kitties to experience litter box issues; in fact, about 10% of cats will have behavioral problems when it comes to using the bathroom over their lifetime.
There are several reasons why your cat may not be using their litter box. Commonly, it’s because they feel stressed, anxious, or even afraid. If your fur baby seems fearful of their litter box, there is most likely something about their bathroom situation that they are not happy with. Here are the most prevalent reasons:
●The litter box is not clean enough
●The litter box type is not suitable
●They don’t like the location of the box
●They dislike the type of litter being used
●There are not enough litter boxes (For multiple cat households)
Let’s explore these issues a little further and learn how to rectify them so your feline friend can feel comfortable and content while doing their business.
Keeping the litter box clean
Cats like a clean environment to relieve themselves. If you are not cleaning the litter box regularly (multiple times a day), your kitty may feel stressed or anxious about the unhygienic situation and associate a negative feeling with their litter box. This could cause them to hold in their waste, potentially resulting in an uncomfortable and painful UTI or digestive issues.
We know how difficult it can be to keep up with litter box maintenance along with work, childcare, and everything else that demands our attention during the week. A lot of the time, it’s not practical for owners to scoop more than once a day. However, your kitty should not have to suffer as a result. To resolve this, we recommend investing in an automatic litter box to do the job for you.
A self-cleaning litter box eliminates the need to scoop and drastically cuts down on your cat’s maintenance. These high-tech litter devices automatically clean and remove waste after each use. Some initiate scheduled cleanings throughout the day as well. Making sure that when nature calls, your cat can always expect a clean space to do their business.
The downside to some automatic litter boxes is the noise they make. If your cat is feeling afraid, this could make their anxiety much worse. Luckily, some self-cleaning litter boxes operate quietly, such as the ChillX AutoEgg and the ScoopFree by PetSafe. Both units use a horizontal raking system that moves slowly, gently, and almost silently through the litter.
Giving you a crystal clean litter box with no noise or rattling to scare your kitty.
Changing the litter box
Your cat may dislike the size or shape of their litter box. Senior and overweight cats may struggle to get into the box if the entry is too high or oddly shaped. Alternatively, it could even be too small, or it might not give enough privacy.
Firstly, check that the size is suitable for your kitty. In general, the litter box should be at least one and half times the length of your cat. Moreover, your fur baby should be able to stand up, squat, and turn around comfortably.
If the size is not the issue, you could switch to a hooded litter box to give your kitty more privacy and peace. A hooded litter box is also beneficial to us as cat owners as it helps to keep the odors concealed. However, if not cleaned regularly, the odors inside could worsen and your kitty may perceive the space as unsanitary.
If your feline likes an enclosed space to do their business, it may be worth investing in a self-cleaning unit as mentioned before. A self-cleaning litter box eradicates odors after each clean, creating a much more pleasant environment.
Moving the litter box to a different spot
Your cat’s litter box anxiety could be down to the positioning. If your litter box is in a busy spot where people tend to walk past, or other pets hang around, your kitty may feel too anxious to use it.
Alternatively, the litter box may be too close to the food and water bowls.
Just like we wouldn’t want to eat where we poop, neither do our feline friends!
Try moving the litter box further away from where your cat eats, and ensure it is in a secluded spot. If possible, place the litter tray in a quiet but open corner or in a room that is not too busy. This will create a more peaceful atmosphere and hopefully ease your kitty’s fear.
In the event that you may have a dog in the house that continually pesters the litter box or your cat while they’re using, try installing a dog gate to the entry of the room with the litter box or even place it in a high spot where your cat can reach it but your pup can’t.
Switching the type of litter
If you’ve recently changed litter brands or switched to a new scent, this could be the cause of your kitty’s litter box anxiety. Cats are sensitive to smells and dislike many chemical or perfume scents.
While we may find an apple or coffee-scented litter great for masking foul odors, it’s likely to be unappealing to your fur baby. Unscented clumping litter with the consistency of clay clumps or rough sand is the most favored litter among our feline friends.
What’s more, cats do not like sudden changes to their routine. If you’re changing your cat’s litter, do it gradually. Start by adding a small amount of the new product to the old one, then slowly increase the ratio, so your kitty has time to adjust to the new litter.
Introducing more litter boxes
There should be one litter box for every cat, so if you have multiple cats, you may need to add more. If your kitties get on well, they may happily share a litter tray, but this is not always the case. Additionally, if your cats’ are not so close, they should always have their own boxes.
Even if you only have one cat, having two litter boxes could still help as some fussy felines prefer to urinate in one box and poop in another. We know, maybe a little fussy! But cats are committed to their preferences and won’t hesitate to let you know what they like and what they don’t.
It’s important to note that a feline medical issue such as a UTI or kidney stones could be causing your kitty’s litter box anxiety. If your cat is still anxious about using their litter box after making the changes above, book a check-up with your vet. If needed, your vet may prescribe medication to calm your kitty’s nerves and get them using the litter box again.
Addressing your cat’s fear of the litter box will significantly improve their wellbeing and happiness.