Litterbox problems are not as scary as they seem. It can be medical or behavioral. Either way, if kept in a non carpeted environment we can work together to tackle litterbox problems. Litterbox problems are the number one reason for owners to give up their pets. We believe litterbox problems are treatable and a cat does not deserve to die for a problem that can be solved.
Veterinary causes underlie many cat litterbox problems, particularly in household with older cats or those with access to the outdoors. Urinary tract infections are one of many common causes, where the cat develops an aversion to the box as a painful place to be. Other health problems can also cause cat litterbox mistakes.
Some cats just have a behavioral issue with litterboxes and some develop a issue with stress from changes in their environment. So the challenge is to tackle the problems and fix them.
Keep the cat in a small, uncarpeted room, with a clean cat litterbox, food bowl, and toys in opposite corners. Pick up all rugs from the floor, so the only soft place to choose to eliminate will be the cat litterbox. Visit the cat often, and clean the box regularly. I also recommend recording the times that the cat uses the box. Many cats stick to a regular routine, so once you’ve determined when the cat is likely to use the box, you can let the cat out during low-risk times to maintain the hierarchy, and put him back in the room with the cat litterbox during high risk periods. Repetition of successful use will increase the cat’s preference to the box.
Observe the Behavior. If the vet rules out a health problem, then start a brief observation period. During the observation period, try to concentrate on the things in the environment that may be important to the cat, like cat litterboxes, food bowls, favorite places, the routines of the other cats and people in the home, etc. Start a journal where you record as much information as you can about every cat litterbox mistake, then look for links. Does the cat always use the same room? Is it always on carpeting? Does it happen after meals, or at some other time of day? Are the other cats nearby? Did you have guests over? When you isolate the specific stimuli involved, it allows you greater control.
Break the Habit. Elimination sites are matters of preference, and when the cat gets into the routine of going to a certain location, you’ll need to prevent the behavior from recurring. Since the smell of declining urine is a signal for the cat to “reapply”, clean the accident site with a pet odor remover – perhaps multiple times to get past the cat’s sensitive nose. Block off the area while the product does its work. Remote deterrents, that work whether you are around or not, will keep the cat from returning to the area whenever you aren’t standing guard. Double-sided tape or an upside-down plastic carpet runner, pointy feet up, can keep your cat from standing in the same area. Make the Current cat litterbox More Appealing. While you are preventing bad habits, make good habits more appealing. The cat litterbox should be clean and have privacy. This simply means that the cat can see off a distance, so he won’t be ambushed in the box. Most cats prefer clumping, non-perfumed litter, but work with your individual foster to determine whether a box of a different size, shape, or litter would help.
General Stress Reduction. In some situations, it’s difficult to determine specific environmental triggers for a problem behavior. However, sometimes general stress reduction techniques will prove helpful, particularly in multi-cat homes. YOU are also an important resource, so give each cat as much attention as they could possibly want. Exercise can also help redirect cats energies. It can also help desensitize cats to each other, while they are praised for attacking a toy while the other cat watches. Routines are also very important in multi-cat homes, particularly when older cats are involved. Scheduled feeding, petting and exercise periods at the same time and location every day can further reduce stress that may be contributing to the cat litterbox problem.