The Cat Who Cried for Help

Cats are desirable pets in many homes across the world because they’re known for being an easy pet that requires less work than a dog. Cats tend to be smaller than dogs. There’s no hassle of walking them outside in bad weather. Cats generally don’t smell, they groom themselves, and conveniently potty in a contained space. They even come home knowing to use the litter box, instead of going through the trouble of house training them like a dog. All of this AND they give you love and affection the same way that a dog does. What more could you ask for?

The problem arises when they don’t fit this idyllic image. Cat guardians frequently misinterpret why their cat is soiling outside the litter box. They believe that it is out of spite or jealousy of an external factor in the home. Cats that avoid the litter box, are much more likely to be relinquished to shelters or dumped on the street. Many of these cats are abandoned as the first option because cat guardians don’t realize how simple it can be to solve these issues.

Cats don’t like soiling outside the litter box. It’s not spite, it’s stress.

Cats are clean animals. If a cat is avoiding their litter box, there’s a reason.

Some common reasons for litter box aversion are:

  • Health issues (urinary tract infections, kidney diseases)

  • Pain from declawing

  • Stressful household

  • Being bullied by another pet when they use the litter box

  • They find the litter or box type aversive

  • The box is too dirty (think poorly maintained gas station bathroom, would you want to go in there?)

  • Covered and automated litter boxes (smelly and scary)

When the going gets tough, and you are at your wits end of what to do with your cat, try to find help. Your cat isn’t avoiding the litter box because they are trying to make your life more difficult, they are having a difficult time themselves.

Litter box avoidance can be a cry for help from your cat, remember, they can’t walk up to you and tell you that they don’t feel well or that they are stressed.

Instead, you need to take a step back from the frustration, and think about why your cat might be having an issue. The first step is ruling out any health concerns by taking your cat to the veterinarian.

If they are in good health, then it’s time to think if there have been any changes in your cat’s environment that might be stressing them out. Has your work schedule changed, a new baby or pet in the home, conflicts with another pet in the home, have you had guests staying with you? Even the smallest change to their environment can cause them to become stressed. Cats can associate negative feelings toward the litter box if something happened while they were using it.

In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt trying a new type of litter box, different litter, or changing the location of the litter box. Some litter types can be too harsh on their paws or maybe the size of the litter box has become too small since they grew into adulthood. Talking to a veterinarian, cat trainer or behaviorist can get to the bottom of what is causing the problem, and how to solve it.

If your cat is experiencing litter box issues, please reach out to us!

We would be happy to work with you and your cat to overcome this issue.