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Some Common Reasons Why Cats Stop Using the Litter Box

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some common reasons why cats stop using the litter box

When your cat stops using the litter box it’s frustrating and stressful for both cat and cat parent. It’s also, sadly, one of the most common reasons that a cat may get a one-way ticket to the nearest shelter. There are many reasons why a cat may avoid the litter box and it’s important to figure out the true cause in order to get everything back on track. Inappropriate elimination shouldn’t be a deal-breaker when it comes to whether kitty gets to stay in your family or not. While some reasons for litter box aversion may be more complex, there are often some simple mistakes cat parents make. If you’re a new cat parent it’s especially easy to make some simple errors that may not seem important at the time but, trust me, those mistakes can have a big effect on how your cat views his toileting set-up. Here’s a list of some common reasons for litter box avoidance.

Underlying Medical Issue for the Cat’s Behavior

When dealing with a litter box problem be sure you look at this possibility first. Don’t assume a problem is behavioral without getting your cat checked by the veterinarian in order to rule out any medical cause. It’s common for a cat experiencing discomfort upon elimination to associate the box with the pain. It may also be that your cat can’t make it to the box in time due to discomfort.



Cats who are declawed may continue to feel pain long after the healing period. Some cats’ paws remain sensitive for the rest of their lives and the texture of the litter may be too uncomfortable for them. There are so many reasons not to declaw your cat and this is just one of them. If you’re on the fence about whether to put your cat through this surgical amputation, please first read the article on this website on declawing.

A Dirty Litter Box

Would you want to use a toilet that is never flushed? Of course not. Cats are very clean animals and if the box is too dirty they will seek other arrangements. Scoop the litter box at least twice a day and completely wash out the box monthly. If you’re not using scoopable litter then wash out the box on a weekly basis.


    I ‘am having a serious litter box problem that’s not covered in your book and I have looked on several other places we
    thought we had it solved when we got a low profile litter box then they all started using the low profile and backing up
    or peeing in between them. right now I don’t know to put a puppy pad in the middle I love them all but I’m faced with
    a bigger problem there is me and my mom I’m 54 and she’s in her early 70’s with arthritis .

  2. Very nice article! I never realized how sensitive my cats nose is. I have always bought litter for my nose convenience instead of her needs. I am going to try cleaning out this new litter box I have and then filling it with unscented litter. Then I can see if that helps. Please pray that it does! I will be getting back with you either way by how it goes. Plus that I have already taken her to the vet because of this problem and an ear infection. He put her on an antibiotic, which I had a hard time giving it to her, so the infection hasn’t already all of the way healed. So unless the LOrd heals her I am half expecting for her to get that fully back.

  3. My cat Patch is not using the litter box! He has had 2 cases of urinary stones or crystals and I saved his life both times but he now poops and pees outside the litter box continuously. I think he associated the pain with the litter. Cat litter is clean! I do not know how to change his behavior. I have tried putting his feces in the box, throwing him out at night I’ve drawn the line at strangling him. ( I wouldn’t do that but it sure crosses my mind) Please give me some advice.

  4. If he has had 2 bouts with painful urination he is probably associating boxes with pain.
    If he is the only kitty, I’d have 2 litter boxes,one in a new spot- he make not make a connection.
    Some humans are put on continous low dose antibiotics for recurring utinary tract infections- maybe vets can fo the same thing.
    We just rescued a cat, he was recently neutered, now after 3 weeks in the house he has started to pee on our bedspread about once a day-he actually peed on my husband while he was in the bed sleeping. Urine looks and smells fine. So Im going to completely clean and wash all 4 litterboxes and refill with new unscented litter, hopefully that will stop problem- if not, more money for the vet- yeah