Litter Box Problems

Litter box problems are a common problem with house cats. Let's talk about some of the more common causes of bad litter box behavior.

  1. Dirty litter: Cats don't like dirty litter. If the litter isn't fresh enough, they'll simply do their business elsewhere. Remember, their definition of dirty might not necessarily agree with yours.
  2. Stress: Cats subjected to sudden stress often react by letting go in inappropriate places. Some cats are more susceptible than others. New cats, dogs, or kids in the home or neighborhood can easily bring on an episode. Different surroundings in general can be stressful. Either of these factors can easily overwhelm your feline.
  3. Illness: Any of a range of minor and serious illnesses, especially urinary tract problems, can cause litter box problems, so be sure to check with your vet if your cat starts exhibiting unusual elimination behaviors. So, if you've ruled out the other 2 causes, be sure to check with your veterinarian.

Establishing Good Habits Following some simple guidelines is a good way to establish appropriate litter box habits or to correct inappropriate ones.

  1. House training: Don't give your kitty free run of your home until your cat is house broken. Remember, prevention and praise are always more effective than scolding and punishment. Punishing your cat after she makes a mistake will just make her afraid of you.
  2. When you're not there: When you are training your kitten appropriate litter box behavior you may want to consider confining your cat to one room one with a tile or concrete floor is best. Leave plenty of water and a warm sleeping place on one side of the room, and a fresh litter box on the other side.
  3. Feeding: If your cat has a problem using the litter box, make sure your cat is on a regular feeding schedule until the problem is resolved. This helps establish a regular elimination schedule.

Litter Box Basics

Clean Litter Box: Keep the litter box clean and with fresh litter at all times. Clean it every day. If the box smells like urine, your cat will avoid it. 
Here�s a useful trick: rinsing out the litter box with water and a bit of vinegar or lemon juice (but not ammonia!) will neutralize most of the odor.
Placement: Location is important. Be sure the litter box is not too close to the cat�s eating and sleeping areas. At the same time, it needs to be accessible. If you have a big house or more than one cat, place additional litter boxes in different areas of the house.

Rewarding Success

Positive feedback is very effective in reinforcing appropriate litter box behavior. Encourage your cat to come to the litter box, and give your cat plenty of praise when they do. Teaching your cat that using a clean litter box is a good thing and is essential for changing the behavior of a cat that avoids the litter box because the box is dirty. When your cat eliminates in their box, give them gentle praise. When your cat is done, let them know how pleased you are by petting them and giving them a treat.

It's important to reinforce good behavior right after it occurs, so pay attention to the elimination schedule. Regular feeding is helpful, as is playing with your cat for a few minutes before and after feeding. Cats often eliminate after exercise. Another popular time, especially for kittens, is after waking up from a nap

To recap, keep a clean litter box, rule out physical ailments, establish a regular schedule and give your pet plenty of positive reinforcement. These are the best ways to cure your cat�s litter box problems.