What to do when your cat won't use the litter box
These suggestions will correct most inappropriate elimination problems in cats. If your
cat is still not using the litter box 100% of the time after trying these solutions, please do
not give up! Call us for an appointment so we can work with you and your cat to figure
why he/she is not using the box, and how we can fix the problem.
The following solutions are meant for cats that have a behavioral problem, and NOT a
medical problem causing them to urinate and/ or defecate outside the litter box. It also
assumes your cats is spayed/ neutered.
The litter box needs to be BIG. By big, I mean bigger than most, if not all, litter boxes
available at stores. The best litter boxes are clear, plastic rubber maid type boxes
measuring 30-36 inches long and 18-24 inches wide. Cut a hole on the side to make an
entrance, or cut a section to lower the rim so the cat can easily get in and out.
The depth of litter needs to be at least 3 inches.
The litter box needs to uncovered. Cats do not like covered boxes.
The litter box needs to be in a quiet location, where any dogs cannot get to, and that allows easy access for the cat. You can use baby gates mounted a little off the ground to let the cat get under but not the dog, or a hook and eye at the top of the door so the cat can squeeze through but the dog cannot. A cat needs to feel safe when it has to use the litter box, and this cannot happen if the dog has access to the same room.
The litter box needs to be scooped at least twice daily, every day. Cats are very clean animals, and just like you and I do not want to use a dirty bathroom. Think of going into a public restroom and the person who used it before you did not flush. You would leave quickly and find another, clean toilet. Cats react in the same way to a dirty litter box.
If you have multiple cats, you need multiple litter boxes. The rule is you need a box for every cat, plus one. So, if you have 3 cats, you need 4 boxes. There comes a point where this is not practical, depending on the size of your home and how many cats you have, but in general try to stick to this rule.
The litter boxes should not be right next to one another, as one cat can very effectively block another cat from using both boxes if they are beside each other.
The litter boxes should not be beside food and water resources.