Old Cat Not Using Litter Box Anymore. This Will Work

How to Speak Cat

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

My Old Cat Not Using The Litter Box Anymore


A senior cat can be a great companion. However, time may change things with respect to health and habits. For example, what happens when a senior cat does not use a litter box and continues with this habit? You need to figure out why the cat is acting this way. You also need to find out what remedies you need to take.

First, you need to determine the exact reason why your elderly cat refuses the use the litter box. A number of reasons can lead to this type of issue, especially when a cat ages. Often, these problems present themselves in the form of urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney problems, or cancer.

When an old cat not using a litter box is of advanced age, it may be arthritic. Therefore, it may be difficult to step inside a litter box or leap out of it in a cat’s later years. Also, an older cat moves at a pace that may be too slow to reach the box in time.


Avoiding Confrontations


Some cats become more stubborn as they grow older. They simply will not use a box that has not been cleaned, emptied, or scooped. If you have other felines in your household, your older cat may suddenly refuse to share the box with them. Also, a younger cat may guard the box and prevent access for the older cat. To avoid a confrontation, your older cat may choose to go elsewhere.

Maybe a senior cat not using a litter box involves a hearing problem or vision loss. If so, if you notice that your cat avoids the litter box, this may be the reason. General cognitive decline along with a vision or hearing loss may make it difficult for your cat to locate and use the box.



Behavioral Difficulties


Behavioral problems among senior cats often develop when they feel neglected. In turn, they act out to get an owner’s attention. Your senior cat may sleep more or remain in certain spots of your living quarters too. That makes it more difficult to bond or spend time alone with your cat.

If you feel that your senior cat needs assistance with finding the box or maybe acting out, you need to make a change and stick to it. Too many changes upset cats, especially when they are older. Before you make any changes, however, contact your vet. Provide a detailed account of the cat’s actions and ask that tests be run for physical causes. Even if you rule out physical problems, you may still find unexpected messes.


Practice the Following Tips


The old cat not using the litter box anymore cannot convey its actual dilemma. Therefore, you need to follow the tips below to ensure that your cat’s litter box usage resumes and all is well with your cat.

  1. Avoid Too Many Changes

Don’t change things too much in the litter box area or you will upset your cat. Cats do not like major changes in the litter box location, the use of the box by other cats, or any interference. Whenever you make an alteration, make sure that your cat knows and sees what you are doing. This will assure the cat that everything is fine.

  1. Keep the Litter Area as Clean as Possible

Your cat, regardless of its age, will not like an area that is less than spotless. Therefore, cleaning this area should be made a priority. Look for ways to increase the frequency of scooping or select a higher-quality litter. It also may help to find an automatic self-cleaning litter box. Taking this step may be all that is needed when a senior cat not using a litter box becomes an issue.

  1. Make the Litter Area Easy to Access

If your elderly cat has become arthritic, you want to make access to its litter box easy. This may be done by choosing a low entryway or by including a ramp. Don’t upset your cat by substituting the old litter box with a brand-new one. Leave the old box in place and position the new box beside it. Add a scoop of litter from the older box initially. Remove the older litter box once your cat begins using the new box.

  1. Keep the Box on Level Ground

Climbing upstairs to get to the litter box can be difficult for an elderly feline. Instead, place an extra box on the level of the house where your cat often spends time. Make sure that the box is placed in a spot that is open yet private and quiet. You should not place the box in an area where someone can shut the door or prevent access.

  1. Make the Box Your Cat’s Litter Box

Ownership is important to a cat even if it is a litter box. If you have more than one cat, make sure that the senior cat’s box is separate from the other litter boxes. Taking this measure will prevent the other younger cats from bullying your senior feline.

  1. Accompany Your Cat to the Litter Box

Make sure that you always leave the litter box in the same spot it has always been for a cat with hearing or vision loss. Accompany your senior cat to the box after a meal to ensure that you have fewer mishaps. You may also want to leave evidence of your cat’s scent around the litter area. However, if your cat has an advanced hearing loss or has become blind, you need to take time and escort your cat to the box.

  1. Enjoy Quality Time with Your Feline

A cat wants to know that it is loved, regardless of its age. In fact, many behavioral problems can be solved by spending additional quality time with your cat. Your cat may not be able to avoid all litter box errors so don’t let this aspect affect your relationship. Set aside one-on-one time so your cat feels more confident and assured.

When a senior cat not using a litter box becomes a problem in your household, you need to really to look at the cat’s age. That can help you better understand your cat’s actions. For example, cats that are 12 years old are really 70 years old by human measurements. If they are 16 years old, their actual human equivalent age is about 84 years old. Any cat from 12 years old to 16 years old is really 70 to 84 years of age. That is something to factor into the litter box equation.

If you consider the maximum age of human beings to be 100 years old, then a cat, if considered on the same scale, would be 25 years of age. With that being said, you really have to establish a litter area according to your cat’s senior health needs.



Opting for a Self-Cleaning Box


You may want to make litter box placement and cleanliness easier on yourself as well. After all, scooping litter is not pleasant, especially if you live in a cramped living space. If you have a traditional litter box in place, you should scoop it out every day.

If you want to depart from this activity, you need to find a robotic litter box that makes it easy for your cat to access and separates the waste from the clean litter. You should make cleaning the litter box a simple task that is as easy as removing a garbage bag.

A self-cleaning litter box should not be any more than 30 inches tall, 25 inches wide, or 27 inches deep. Make sure that you can easily fit it into a small living space, bathroom, or bedroom. A self-cleaning unit should provide better odor control than a traditional litter box. You can save money on litter box usage as well as a self-cleaning unit that provides fresh litter each time that it is used.

When you use a self-cleaning unit, make sure that you can assemble it easily. All you should have to do is add the litter and plug in the device. You should receive a guide from the manufacturer that identifies all the parts and tells you just how much litter to add. It should also offer tips about how to introduce your cat to the new litter box and get the cat used to using it.


Reduce Unpleasant Smells


If you are tired of those telltale litter box odors, a self-cleaning unit may be just the solution for both you and your senior cat. Usually, premium units feature a sizable carbon filter placed in front of the waste drawer. This filter absorbs smells and moisture and therefore greatly reduces unpleasant smells.

By adding the self-cleaning litter box in your living space, you can also enjoy a cleaner apartment. Because a self-cleaning box provides a clean bed of litter after each use, you won’t have to contend with leftover litter tracked across the floor or carpet by your cat.

If you do have more than one cat, you may be able to get by with only the self-cleaning device. It just depends on the breed and temperament of your felines. In many cases, one self-cleaning device can eliminate problems even with the most territorial of cats.


Get More Cat Toys and Treats



You will save more money on litter by using a self-cleaning apparatus for your senior cat. Because a self-cleaning litter box removes clumps and preserves clean litter, you can save as much as 50% per year on litter. Your cat will love the fact that you can buy more cat toys and treats with the money you save.

If your older cat has problems with orientation, you may want to find a self-cleaning unit that features a night light. That way, your elderly cat will easily find the bathroom at night. You can also include a fitted ramp, which permits a safe and simple entry into and out of the device.

What type of litter box you use can be as important as where it is placed and how much it is cleaned. With today’s innovative litter box designs, there is no reason why you cannot buy a box that features a senior cat-friendly design. In fact, you should begin using this type of litter box when your cat is young so it can still continue to use the box when it is old.


The Five Major Reasons Why an old cat does not use the litter box anymore.

  1. Surface likes and dislikes
  2. Litter likes and dislikes
  3. Placement of the litter box
  4. Incapacity
  5. Negative Associations


When you review all the reasons why a cat may eliminate outside a litter box, you can better determine how to solve the problem. Usually, a senior cat will take a detour in the following instances:

  1. Surface Likes and Dislikes

Cats, as they age, may show more of a preference for eliminating on certain textures or surfaces such as potting soil, bedding, or carpeting.

  1. Litter Likes and Dislikes

If your cat has grown accustomed to a certain litter, it may suddenly get an aversion to a new litter. Test a new litter out before you commit to using it regularly.

  1. Placement of the Litter Box

Cats will not eliminate in places that they grow to dislike or simply do not like. Therefore, you always need to make sure that the litter box is well placed.

  1. Incapacity

Geriatric felines may have cognitive or physical limitations that make using certain boxes difficult, if not impossible. For example, they may have a tough time using a box with high sides or have difficulty with a top-entry type of box. If your cat used these types of entry systems when it was younger and now refuses to use its box, this may be the reason.

  1. Negative Associations

Something may have happened to your senior cat when it was using its box. If something upset it, it may not return to the same place. If this is the case, your cat may enter the box but exit it quickly and may not even use the box.

In some instances, your cat may have a medical condition that causes pain when it eliminates it. In turn, it may associate this event with using the box. Even if your cat no longer suffers from the condition, it may not want to use the litter box.

Keep the above information in mind if your senior cat has suddenly become resistant to using its box. Things change when a cat ages, which can lead to changes in your cat’s litter box habits as well.


[su_box title=”Affiliate Disclosure”]This website is supported by its readers. Please assume that all links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links we will make a commission from Amazon. Thank you.[/su_box]

About the author

Latest posts