QUESTION: My cat doesn’t always use her litter box. Why?
ANSWER: Glad you asked! We kitties want you to know that when one of us has an “accident,” there’s always, always, ALWAYS a reason. Our species is programmed to “go” in loose material so something has to be very wrong for us to go against this instinct. Sometimes it has to do with the box and litter itself. In the wild, cats always choose a fresh, clean new area for potty purposes. At the shelter we have a choice of several litter boxes in scattered locations. Then if one is “occupied” or if “Bully Billy” is blocking the way, we have an alternative. The litter boxes are BIG, clear, 58-quart plastic storage containers filled with about 2 inches of UNSCENTED litter. We don’t like using the brand that’s on sale after we’ve gotten used to our favorite litter. Our personal staff, i.e., the volunteers, keeps the boxes nice and clean by ALWAYS scooping twice a day. Sometimes they even try to scoop while we’re still in there. This annoys us!
If all is well with our boxes, the two other reasons that cause us to go against our instincts are PAIN and STRESS/FEAR. PAIN is caused by urinary crystals that form in the urine and REALLY hurt when we go. Some kitties start avoiding the box because they feel pain when they urinate in there. TAKE YOUR KITTY TO HER VET FRIEND IMMEDIATELY!
STRESS is caused by change or turmoil in the house (new person or baby,
moving, fighting, divorce, etc.). We cats are VERY sensitive creatures and, although we may not always show our feelings on the outside, sometimes we are really upset and stressed inside. FEAR is caused by aggressive pets, loud noises, rough kids, etc., that make us afraid to go to or into our box. This is why some kitties don’t like a COVERED litter box. There’s only one way in and one way out. TRAPPED WITH NO ESCAPE ROUTE!
The good news is that there IS an effective way to get us back in harmony with our natural instincts. The bad news is that you are going to have to show some TOUGH LOVE in retraining kitty to the box by confining her to a bathroom or dog cage for three weeks, minimum. This is a case of, “It’s going to be a lot harder on you than on me,” because most owners do not like the idea of confining their beloved pet to a bathroom or dog cage for THREE FULL WEEKS to get her back to good habits. Bad habits take time to form, and it takes time to get back to “the box and ONLY the box. Naturally, any problems with the litter (sometimes a kitty has a preference for a different kind of litter), number of boxes, health, or stressful/fearful situations must be addressed before we are given gradual freedom outside the bathroom or cage. Actually, being confined should NOT be viewed as a punishment for us. It is actually the most loving gesture an owner can make to a treasured pet, the opportunity to keep what is most important to a cat, her home and family.