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What to do when a cat does not want to use the litter box?

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It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

Many factors can contribute to the fact that the cat does not want to use its “toilet” – From where the litter box is placed to the type of litter! Find out how to remedy this! 

Uncleaned litter box

The most common reason for a cat to defecate outside its litter box is its level of hygiene. An irregularly cleaned litter box, unchanged litter or left-over feces discourage the animal from using the litter box and force it to look for new places to take care of its needs. The litter box should be emptied of feces regularly, and once a week the litter should be changed and the entire surface should be thoroughly washed. 

Unpleasant odor of litter 

Scented litter, air fresheners or special disinfectants can be another reason why a cat does not want to use its litter box. Some animals are very sensitive to odors, which can significantly affect their daily habits. Solutions include changing detergents and cleaning the litter box more often. However, it’s worth remembering not to do this too often, especially with young cats, as they need to become familiar with the natural smell of the litter box and remember that it is a place used for defecation. 

Type of litter box

Another problematic issue can be the type of litter box. Not all cats want to use covered litter boxes. Often they come with special flaps that lift up when the cat passes, which can be an additional stress factor for the cat. If your cat doesn’t want to use its current litter box, consider changing to one without a canopy – or vice versa. In the case of covered litter boxes, you can fill the surroundings with plants to give the animal some sense of privacy. 

Location of the litter box

The question of where the litter box is located is also not insignificant. Unfavorable locations that will stress the animal include those that are easily accessible to a small child, close to the washing machine, dishwasher, dryer and food bowl, and in the middle of an aisle. The litter box should be in a place that is easily accessible, yet away from the rest of the household, so that the cat can use it freely. Toilets, corners of rooms or the space behind the couch work great. 

Negative associations 

One common reason for cats’ aversion to the litter box is a bad experience from the past. Traumas related to the litter box most often affect cats adopted from a shelter. It is then worth talking to the previous caretaker of the facility, ask for advice and closely observe the behavior of the pet. Perhaps a change of location or type of litter box will help build trust and change the cat’s attitude. 

Proper training of the animal 

The cause of your cat’s undesirable behavior may also be the inadequate teaching of your cat to use the litter box when it was young. Kittens are more likely to get dirty in the house, and this can be influenced by giving them too much space in the house too quickly. In the initial phase of getting to know the apartment, it is advisable to spend as much as possible with the cat in one room where the litter box is located, so that it quickly learns to use it. In this way, the kitten will quickly master controlling its needs and settling them in the right place.

main photo: unsplash.com/Litter Robot

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