Most cats that eliminate outside of their litter box do so because something about the box bothers them. This is often either a problem with the litter (substrate preference or aversion) or the location of the box (location preference). This list of suggestions can help you correct elimination problems in your cat.
- First and foremost, we must check to see if this is a medical problem (bladder infection or something similar). Schedule an appointment to see one of our veterinarians who will examine your cat, ask you several questions regarding your pet’s behavior, and examine a urine sample. If we determine it is a medical problem, we will develop a treatment plan to resolve this issue.
- Clean and clean again any areas outside of the litter box where your cat has eliminated. Soak the area with water, then blot with a dry towel. Repeat this until you cannot detect any odor. You might have to repeat this several times.
- Clean the areas with a good odor eliminator. Pet Odor Eliminator and similar products have enzymes, which degrade the substances in urine and make it harder for the scents to aerosolize.
- Cover all affected areas after cleaning with heavy gauge plastic or aluminum foil. Cats typically will not walk on these materials.
- Have enough litter boxes: one box for each cat plus one extra box.
- Have litter boxes in a variety of locations: cats typically prefer quiet and private areas. Try to have one litter box on every level of your house.
- Avoid covered litter boxes.
- Avoid small litter boxes: cats prefer a box which is at least 1.5 times the length of the cat.
- Wash all litter boxes with hot water at least weekly. If you use a cleaning solution such as bleach, you must rinse until all of the residue and smell is gone.
- Try different types of litter. Remember that most cats like soft, clean-smelling substances. However, they do not like strong flowery scents so avoid “scented” litters.
- Scoop the litter at least twice daily.
- Consider changing the depth of the litter. Some cats prefer deep litter but others, especially older, arthritic cats, prefer only a small amount of litter. One hint is that cats dig more in litters they like.
- Use automatically cleaning litter boxes with caution – these boxes easily scare some cats.
- Avoid punishment for accidents – this is useless and only makes the problem worse.
- Consider confining your cat to a restricted area (such as a single room) with a few litter boxes until your cat starts using the box consistently. This might take several weeks or more. Then give your cat access to the entire house gradually over the next few weeks.
- Take precautions when handling litter boxes. Good hygiene is important to maintain good health in people.
- Consider drug therapy: despite your best efforts, sometimes it is a challenge to solve this problem. One of our veterinarians can work with you to determine if your cat is a candidate for anti-anxiety medications. Used in conjunction with the modifications outlined above, many cats will respond positively to the medications.
Further Questions? Please call one of our offices:
Peachtree City – 770-487-1338
Fairburn – 770-692-6034