Cat Litter Box Problems and Solutions

Problems involving a cat litter box can challenge any pet owner. When looking at the problem, identify the root causes and then choose the appropriate solution(s). Here are some steps to follow.

Step #1: Identify The Feline Causing The Problem

If you have a multi-cat household, it's important to see which of the felines is having the cat litter box problem. Since cats have their own routines, it shouldn't be difficult to know when your cat needs to do its business. Once you've caught the cat in the act, then you can move on to the solutions.

Step #2: Make Sure There's Not A Medical Cause

Cats with a urinary tract infection or another medical problem that causes them pain when they use the litter box may associate the litter box with pain. This causes them to avoid the cat litter box and use other areas of the house instead. Take your feline to the veterinarian for a quick check-up to ensure there's not an underlying physical problem. If you see blood in the urine or feces, this is a definite sign that something's wrong physically.

Step #3: Watch Cat's Behavior

Assuming that everything checks out with your cat's physical condition, watch your cat or cats' behavior to determine the cause of the cat litter box problems. Since cats are naturally territorial, if you have more than one feline, the top cat may be staking out his or her territory. They may leave feces uncovered or partially uncovered as a warning to another cat to stay away. The solution is to have one litter box per cat plus an extra one if the first one is dirty or occupied, or has an odor.

If the litter box is located in a dead-end room or a high-traffic area, your cat may feel threatened and insecure. There's no room for escape. Move the litter box to another location.

Also pay attention to when the cat litter box problems occur. Does it happen only at certain times of the day? Does it happen right after feeding, or when you have company in your home? Your cat may be trying to tell you something.

Step #4: Training May Be In Order

Cats that repeatedly miss the litter box or refuse to use it at all may need cat litter box training. Place the cat in a room with the litter box when you know it needs to relieve itself. When the cat is finished, praise the cat's effort and let the cat out of the room. Repeat the training as often as necessary until the cat is comfortable again using the litter box. You may need to try different types of litter, or have several litter boxes for the cat to choose from.

Step #5: Create Cat Litter Box Appeal

No cat likes a dirty litter box. Keep it clean and fresh at all times. It's best to clean out the litter box twice a day. Scrub out the litter box with soap and water or 1 part bleach to 30 parts water, rinse and dry thoroughly.

If you use automatic cat litter equipment, make sure to empty the tray the same two times per day. If your cat litter box problems occur after you've introduced the automatic litter box, your cat may dislike the raking noise. Revert back to the non-automatic litter box and have the automatic one as an alternate until your cat gets used to it.

Step #6: Choose The Best Cat Litter

All litter is not equal when it comes to your cat. Experiment to find the kind you're your cat prefers. This may be a natural pine litter, a clumping and non-scented type, or one containing a deodorizing element.