Does this situation sound familiar? You head to your kitty’s litterbox to scoop it out and discover that she’s decided to go to the bathroom elsewhere. How frustrating! But don’t blame your cat just yet. She might have a medical condition that needs attention.
In fact, the first thing you should do if she’s improperly eliminating. is to take her to the vet to rule out any medical problems. If it turns out that the issue isn’t health related, then look at other potential reasons. In addition, you might be the cause of her litterbox issues.
Check out the information below to get the scoop on common litterbox mistakes you may be making — and how to fix them.
You’re not cleaning her litterbox enough.
Many cats won’t use the litterbox if it’s not in pristine condition. We know it’s probably not your favorite chore, but you should scoop it out at least twice daily and add more litter as needed. Clean the actual box with baking soda or unscented soap once a week. To make your life a little easier, make a litterbox kit with all the essentials (litter, bags and scoop), so you have everything handy.
It's in a less than ideal location.
Place your cat’s litterbox in an area that’s quiet and away from her resting areas, as well as her food and water bowls. If there’s too much foot traffic or if it’s too close to where she eats, she might opt to go to the bathroom somewhere else. Also consider how much privacy the location offers and how easy it for your cat to access it.
You don't have enough litterboxes.
For many cats, having just one litterbox to use is not going to cut it. Instead follow this general rule: one litterbox per cat plus one. So if you have one cat, you’ll need two litterboxes; two cats need three litterboxes. More boxes might be necessary if your house is large or has multiple floors.
It's not big enough.
When it comes to litterboxes, size matters. A 2014 study conducted by veterinarian and behaviorist Norma Guy found that cats tend to prefer big litterboxes to small ones. Ideally, the litterbox should be at least one and half times the length of the cat’s body (not including the tail). Additionally, cats are not always fans of covered litterboxes, so you should try leaving it uncovered.
You're not addressing your cat's stressors.
If your cat is missing the litterbox, it could be a sign that she has anxiety. Common stressors are when there is a move or a new baby or new pet in the household. If you have multiple cats, one of them could be bullying your kitty and preventing her from using the litterbox. The stressor could even be more subtle than that. For instance, she might be stressed that you changed to a new type of litter, moved her litterbox to a new location or that the depth of litter has changed. If you’re not sure what’s causing your kitty to miss the litterbox, talk to your veterinarian, who may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist.