It is always sad and shocking to hear that non-usage of the cat litter box is one of the leading reasons why pets are given up to shelters. Has your cat stopped using his cat litter box? Read on to understand why!
When a trained cat stops using his cat litter box, there is always a deeper reason. Cats are by nature clean creatures that prefer fresh scents and clean surroundings. They are not vengeful, and thus are definitely not trying to get back at you for shoving him off your favourite plush chair. If he is used to using his cat litter box and has suddenly stopped – you need to stop and look for the actual reason, and more often than not, you will find that the reason may lie in a deeper change and may even have been caused by you!
One thing to keep in mind though – there is no benefit to be had from shouting at or disciplining your pet. This will only increase the stress that your cat may be feeling already and will only make the situation worse. Let’s think back to a few things we may or may not have done:
Have You Cleaned his Cat Litter Box?
As mentioned before, cats naturally prefer being clean as a habit so if he is going outside his cat litter box, and generally being dirtier than usual, think. Did you forget to scoop out or clean out his cat litter box? Trying to go in a smelly, dirty litter box is akin to humans going to an unflushed toilet. Now you wouldn’t like to do that, would you? Neither does your cat.
Have You Added to Your Cat (or Pet) Family?
If you have introduced a new feline (or other pet) into the family, your older resident may not like sharing his cat litter box with the new one. He may also resent the fact that you have replaced the option that he is comfortable with, with some new contraption that is not right for him! He may be uncomfortable with the new addition itself – and this needs you to be patient and understanding of the situation and lead your cat with compassion through this transition.
Have You Changed Any Brands?
The cat sense of smell is far stronger than that of a human. If you have recently changed the brand of cat litter or opted for another alternative, your cat might not be approving of your efforts to save on either expenses or cleaning time! A new scent will also upset his sense of balance and he will renounce his regular throne!
Have You Put Enough Litter in the Cat Litter Box?
Often, we see cat parents skimp on the amount of litter placed in the cat litter box. If your cat is unhappy with the amount in his cat litter box, it is most likely that he will not eliminate in that box, and unfortunately find a more appealing place to do so.
Has Someone in the Family Moved In or Out?
A new human addition to the family may also upset the cat’s sense of balance, which may result in his new behavior of going outside his cat litter box. This would be a good time to ease your pet into transitioning to the new ways of living with care and patience.
Did You Change the Location of the Cat Litter Box?
If you have changed the location of the cat litter box to suit any change in the family or change in the living space, this might be upsetting your cat. Try and make the transition easier by placing two cat litter boxes and cleaning the old one less frequently, so your cat starts to prefer the new location naturally.
Are You Punishing Your Cat Because of This Behavior Change?
At the start of this behavior change, if you have started with punishment rather than understanding the underlying cause and trying to determine a way to solve it, the reward and punishment structure may make things worse as it will only add to the stress felt by your pet.
Is Your Cat Ill?
Sometimes going outside the cat litter box may point to an actual medical condition. If your cat has a urinary tract infection, he might associate pain with trying to go in the cat litter box. Types of feline diarrhea might even find him desperate to go anywhere without caring where it is. If you think this is the case, try watching his behavior when he is trying to eliminate and see if there is any associated pain. If you see anything off, make an immediate appointment with the vet a thorough investigation may clarify the real reason why your cat is behaving the way he is.
Whatever may have caused this change in behavior, correcting it will take time and patience and investigating the root cause. Once you understand this, try patiently either giving him a bigger, more comfortable cat litter box, or try and experiment with the kind of cat litter that you are using, or try and rework your cleaning schedule to suit your cat’s needs better, and sensitize any new family members to support you and your cat in this process.