Cat won’t use the litter box. I have tried everything.
This is the main question among cat owners, a vice that has led to people surrendering cats to shelters. Nobody wants a cat that won’t use the litter box. This is because if your cat is not using the litter box, then he is doing it somewhere else in the house. Even worse, if your cat won’t use the litter box and you try everything, it leaves everything in the house targeted. Your cat will pee on anything ranging from your carpet to your couch. Thus, this is a frustrating behavior that will need immediate attention in order to control.
My cat won’t use the litter box. I tried everything but can’t stop him. What could be the cause?
If you are looking this up, it means you have had trouble making your cat use the litter box. It is exhausting as well as frustrating to cat parents. And because of human nature, we may actually react negatively and even surrender the cat. However, there are several reasons why your cat refuses to use the litter box. These could be environmental, behavioral as well as a medical issues leading to this behavior.
So before you give up on your cat who cannot stop spraying, you should understand why he is doing so. Keeping in mind that cats are emotionally sensitive animals, it could be as a result of mild changes and so on. Here are some of the reasons why your cat won’t use the litter box:
Well, since we have lived with cats for centuries, it means that there has to be some form of communication that helps us coexist. For instance, your cat will refuse to use the litter box in an effort to communicate with you. It is your task, however, to determine what he is trying to tell you through engaging in this behavior.
In most cases, it may mean that your cat is stressing or dealing with some form of anxiety. You will be able to determine this by keenly observing him and closely monitoring his behavior. Once you identify the reason why your cat is experiencing anxiety, you will be able to help him overcome it and thus curbing the behavior.
Dirty Litter Box
Cat parents know how sensitive cats are to smells and also their surroundings. They are generally very clean creatures which is why we love them in the first place. This is why he will not use a dirty litter box. In fact, the foul smell of a dirty litter box is enough to make him turn away and look for somewhere else to do his business.
It is, therefore, a requirement to make sure that the litter boxes are always clean and free of odor to encourage your cat to use it. It can also be helpful to change the litter often to maintain an odor-free litter box.
If your cat won’t use the litter box no matter what, you may want to look into where he is relieving himself. This way, you will be able to observe his behavior properly. If your cat has a medical concern, not using the litter box will be accompanied by other symptoms.
Some of these symptoms may include frequent peeing, pain while urination, and sometimes blockage. You should visit your vet as soon as you observe these symptoms. It is easier to treat feline urinary tract infections earlier than later when the infection has already advanced.
Your vet will be able to examine your cat and give a conclusive diagnosis. Thereafter, your vet will also provide treatment options best fit for your cat. Providing enough water for your cat is also essential in eliminating a urinary tract infection in your cat.
Your cat cannot find the litter box
This is also a major reason why your cat may not use the litter box; because he cannot find it on time. This is why it is important to provide several litter boxes in the house for his convenience. However, you should be cautious about where you place the litter boxes.
Basically, litter boxes should be placed in a low-traffic area with less activity. This will provide your cat with the privacy he needs while using the litter box. You should, however, make sure that your cat’s litter boxes are in areas he can see and easily access.
Your cat craves your presence
Your cat is definitely going to grow fond of you. However, it is understandable that you cannot always manage to be with your cat every single minute. For this reason, your cat may develop the habit of spraying to mix his scent with yours. This way he is going to feel more secure as well as develop a sense of bond with his owner.
Spending enough time with your cat will help alleviate this behavior. You should look for games and activities that you can engage in together. This will help create the bond your cat is looking for when mixing scents.
How to make your cat use the litter box
Having a cat who cannot use a litter box is annoying and frustrating. No matter how much you will want to keep the cat, you may find yourself angry at him. This is because no one wants to live in a house smelling of cat waste. However, you can be able to make your cat use the litter box by using the following measures:
Restriction from targeted places
When you have a spraying cat that won’t use the litter box, it means that your house is targeted. Your cat is going to be very unpredictable which means he may soil anything including your clothe and furniture. However, you will be able to notice that your cat is specific to the areas he soils. He will have a tendency of repeating the behavior for some reason.
For instance, if your cat avoids the litter box only to soil your bed, you may want to deny him access to the bedroom. You can simply leave the door closed and make sure he has no other entrance into the room. However, you should provide as many litter boxes as needed in order to make your cat use them.
In addition, you may also prefer to use safe deterrents to keep your cat out of unwanted places. You should, however, provide enough room to stretch and play in.
Clean the litter box
As mentioned above, cats are quite sensitive to smell and dirty. They prefer clean surfaces as well as clean litter boxes. You should make sure you empty and clean the litter boxes as often as possible. This is because the odor will make your cat turn away and look for somewhere else to finish his business.
You should also change the cat litter as often as needed to avoid smelly litter boxes. This will encourage your cat to use the litter box. You should be careful about the type of litter you use, which should depend on your cat’s preference. For this reason, you may consider using odor-free litter at all times.
Wash the soiled Surfaces
Cats may be attracted to pee in places they have soiled before. This is why it is recommended that you wash the soiled places using enzyme cleaners. This will help clean and get rid of the smell that may attract your cat to doing so.
The goal of this is to make sure that your cat does not remember this habit. If your cat recently peed n your carpet, chances are that he will repeat. The pungent urine is going to constantly remind your cat of the peeing and tempt him to do so all over again.
To completely make him forget, you may consider engaging him in exercises and games. You should also focus on encouraging your cat to use the litter box more often.
Strategically place the litter boxes
The location of the litter box is an important consideration to make when you are encouraging your kitty to use it. You should definitely have more than one litter boxes even if you have one cat. This way, your cat will have more than one option when he is in need of the litter box.
However, where do you exactly place the litter boxes in the house? Your cat will prefer a quiet and private place in order to be able to use the litter box. For instance, you may want to place the litter box in a place with the least activity and traffic in the house.
You should also make sure that your cat is able to easily access the litter box.
Choose the correct type of litter to use
Different cats will prefer different types of litter, particularly based on texture and smell. Most cats, however, prefer litter that has no scent. In fact, litter that is able to absorb pee instead of having it all wet and messy.
In most cases, your cat will prefer a soft type of litter as opposed to rough material. This is because it is easy on your cat’s paws and also because they are easy to scoop. Avoid scented types of litter to make your cat want to use it.
Ensure your cat fits in the litter box
The size of the litter box cannot be ignored especially when we have cats experiencing litter box problems. You should get the right size of the litter box based on the size of your cat. It may be that your cat refuses to use the box because it is smaller.
People who have raised their cats since they were born may often forget to adjust to a bigger size of a litter box. If the litter box is smaller than your cat, he is going to be uncomfortable using it. Instead, he may look for a place elsewhere and eliminate his waste.
Block window view
If your cat appears to pee on the door or window, there is a possibility he is reacting to another cat from a neighborhood. Therefore, closing the curtains will help keep your cat inside the house without distractions from the outside.
It could be that a cat is trying to engage with the other cat or he feels threatened by the other cat. You should also make some efforts to keep other cats away from your house. For instance, you can use safe deterrents on your lawn and yard to keep neighborhood cats away from your property.
Also, provide options for your cat to engage in once he is not looking out the window. You can leave your TV on or even get him toys to play with when you are busy elsewhere. You will also have to spend some time with your cat to teach him to relax even when left alone.
Absence of death of family members
Like in the wild, cats prefer to live with their families. Due to domestication, we become their family and of course, we take care of them as our own. This builds a bond with every family member in the household which comes with some expectations.
Your cat expects to see you at a certain time of the day, based on your routine. Failure to see you may lead to extreme anxiety. The absence or even death of a family member leaves your cat with a void no one else can fit.
In such a case, the remaining guardian will have to make some playtime for your cat. It is very important to understand that your cat will need to engage with you and feel secure again. Loneliness is a possible cause of stress in cats. Stress may lead to peeing outside the box.
Treat underlying illnesses
As mentioned earlier in this article, a cat that will not use the litter box may be ill. Usually, these illnesses mainly affect your cat’s urinary tract, making it hard for them to pee. In fact, this should be the first step you take if your cat won’t use the litter box after trying everything.
Your cat’s urinary tract is quite sensitive, making it easy to contact an infection. One of the most common infections of the urinary tract is a UTI. Just like in humans, it is more common in female cats than in male cats. This does not mean that your male cat cannot contract an infection.
Actually, it is riskier for a male cat to have a UTI. This is because his urethra is thinner than that of a female cat. For this reason, your cat may not be able to pass urine if crystals have been formed due to an infection.
Cat urinary tract infection is characterized by painful and frequent urination. Your cat will definitely avoid using the litter box or may not reach it before peeing. Upon observing these signs and symptoms, it is important to see your vet with immediate effect.
Your vet will be able to make a conclusive diagnosis in order to start treatment. In the case where your cat has crystal formation, your vet is going to provide appropriate medication to dissolve the crystals. UTIs could recur in the future and so it is important to watch out for these signs if your cat has ever had a urinary tract infection.
Crystalluria, is a life-threatening illness of you’re cat’s urinary tract. This is due to the formation of crystals in your cat’s urinary tract, making it difficult for your cat to pee. If your cat has crystalluria, he may have difficulties in urinating. This is because crystalluria makes it painful for your cat to pee.
In an effort to itch, your cat will lick his/her genitals. Peeing outside the litter box is also a common occurrence in cats with crystalluria. Frequent urination which is accompanied by cries of pain is also evident as well as blood in the urine.
Even though there are no known causes of this illness, lack of enough water intake is a possible cause. Inflammation of the bladder due to complications could also lead to this illness. You should seek medical attention as soon as you observe the above symptoms.
Do I need to see the vet?
Your vet will be able to provide treatment options to dissolve the crystals and clear the urethra. You should seek medical attention as it can be life-threatening if left untreated.
All in all, you should seek treatment when your cat will not use the litter box. Early treatment will reduce the chances of an advanced stage of the illness. In some cases, your vet may suggest surgery to remove the larger crystals that may lead to blockage of your cat’s urethra.
There are other illnesses that may make your cat avoid using the litter box. This is why you should rule out medical reasons for this behavior before addressing the behavioral factors. Once you have identified the exact reason your cat refuses to use the litter box, you will be able to address the issue.
Keeping the litter box clean is a great step to encouraging your cat to use the litter box. You should be careful with the type of litter to use based on your cat’s preferences. It is also important to address any underlying stress in your cat in order to make him use the litter box.
It is never recommendable to leave soiled surfaces like that. Instead, you should make sure to wash the surface thoroughly by the use of enzyme cleaners. This way, you will be able to make him forget about doing it all over again. The tips above will help you deal with a cat that won’t use the litter box. The goal is to encourage the cat to make use of the litter box and avoid soiling the house.