Has your cat recently suffered from a UTI and now you’re having to deal with them urinating absolutely everywhere they can? UTIs in cats are actually much more common than many pet owners believe, and they can often go untreated for an extended period of time since cats are so good at hiding when they’re in pain. However, there are certain signs that you can look out for.
One key way that you’ll be able to note that something isn’t right with your pet is when they stop showing much interest in eating. Cats generally have a pretty good appetite, so when their desire for a good meal goes out the window, it usually means that something is wrong.
Being constantly in and out of the litter box is another sign that your cat may have a UTI. If you notice your cat running in and out of that space, it may be time to take them to the vet. Of course, the worst sign that many pet owners quickly note is when their cat starts urinating in other locations, such as your shoes or behind the sofa.
Retrain Your Cat to Use a Litter Box After a UTI
Just like with humans, when cats suffer from a UTI it can be quite painful. Unfortunately, this will mean that your cat associates their litter box with that pain and will try to look for alternative areas to relieve themselves. Even worse, this habit can stay locked even after the UTI is taken care of.
Of course, getting your cat to use the litter box once again is a serious priority, but the idea of retraining can often leave pet owners confused and unsure of where to turn. Here are a few tips you can keep in mind to help with retraining your cat to use a litter box after a UTI.
Move the Litter Box
Often enough, simply changing the location of the litter box can be enough to remove any negative associations your cat has. It may very well be that your cat thinks of that room as being where it was in pain, rather than the box itself. This is a great place to start simply because just moving your box from one room in the home to another is one of the easiest solutions out there.
When it comes to finding a new litter box location, it will be important to keep your cat’s preferences in mind. Many cats hate having to go in noisy or public areas, which means that they’ll continue searching for spaces they feel comfortable in.
Try moving your box to a more secluded space in the home, such as a mudroom or a closet in the spare room. The more isolated and removed the box is, the better. This way your cat can feel secure and safe as it tries to reacclimate to the idea. This will help you to Retrain Your Cat to Use a Litter Box After a UTI.
Make the Litter Box Something Fun
Another great option to help retrain your cat to associate better things with the litter box is to play there. Try bringing in their favorite toys and playing with them together near the box itself. This will help them spend more time in that space with more positive associations, rather than just thinking about when they were in pain.
However, make sure you remember not to throw toys into the box itself. Cats are notoriously picky about cleanliness and having toys be thrown around where they are meant to go to the bathroom can push you three steps backward in the process.
Also, since cats care so much about cleanliness, make sure you don’t use any of their toys with treats inside. Cats will absolutely hate the idea of mixing where they eat with where they relieve themselves and this could end up causing you even bigger problems in the future as far as what toys they’ll use, what kind of treats they’ll eat, and more. Better to be safe than sorry and stick with plastic balls or other catnip and threat-free options.
Don’t Force Things
While you may be able to force a dog into going to the bathroom where you want them to, cats are a completely different subject. Cats need to be allowed to choose to use the litter box on their own, or you may as well kiss your carpeting and shoe collection goodbye.
Cats are extremely independent and private creatures naturally, and so the idea of having someone force them into relieving themselves anywhere can be a serious blow to their pride.
While it may be incredibly frustrating to deal with initially, making sure you stay patient during the retraining process will be key. Make sure your cat feels that this decision is of their own making rather than something you’re encouraging them to do.
Cats naturally want to bury these things in the dirt, you just need to remind them that this is what they want to do on their own. Retraining your cat to use a litter box after a UTI may take time, but it will certainly be worth it in the end.
Keep the Litter Box as Clean as Possible
Again, cats are extremely clean animals. They hate the idea of getting themselves dirty and having to climb through piles of urine or poop can be extremely off-putting and will often result in your cat looking for somewhere else to relieve themselves. This is true even for cats who haven’t suffered from a UTI. As such, making sure that you clean up the litter box and remove any litter clumps at least once, if not twice, a day will be essential.
Additionally, you’ll want to completely clean out your litter box with soap and water at least once a week so that any lingering smells aren’t making your cat look for another space to do their business. If you’re really worried about the smell, you can even pour a little bit of baking soda into the box after it’s been cleaned out. Just remember not to use any scented cleaning products.
Cats have a much more sensitive sense of smell than we do and an artificial scent can really throw them into a fit.
Try Switching the Litters
Since cats have such sensitive noses, it may very well be that the negative association isn’t only with the space where your litter box is kept, but also the smell of the litter itself. Changing the litter you use can be a great and easy way to quickly address this problem.
However, keep in mind that cats generally adjust better to this kind of change when you bring in an unscented litter that’s similar in size and texture to the litter they were using previously.
While you certainly want them to feel that this is something new and untarnished by the memories of their UTI, you also want them to have that familiarization that this is the place where they want to take care of business and be done with it.
Try Adjusting the Litter Depth
While you might think that the more litter you have in the pan, the better, this may actually not be the case. Many cats, especially breed with longer fur, will actually prefer to have a thin layer of litter that they can dig to the bottom of.
While the reasoning for this is still unknown, the thought is that cats like knowing that they’ve reached as far down as they can go to bury what they’ve done, helping to ensure that unclean smell stays safely tucked away and out of harm’s way. Believe it or not, this simple change can be the key to retraining your cat to use a litter box after a UTI
Clean up Accidents Quickly and with an Enzymatic Cleaner
Cats often get into the habit of relieving themselves in the same place over and over again, and smell has a lot to do with this. While you might think that you’ve cleaned up the mess completely, your cats may still be able to pick up on a scent that you’d never be able to notice on your own.
It’s incredibly important that when your cat goes to the bathroom outside of the litter box that you use a high-quality enzymatic cleaner that’s designed specifically to tackle animal urine and feces smells.
It’s important to spray most of the surrounding area as well since even the smallest droplet can be enough to encourage your pet to relieve themselves in the space again. Thorough cleaning with this product can help ensure that your pet wants nothing to do with space whatsoever, moving them back to using the litter box little by little.
Buy a New Litter Box
While you might have done everything you could to get those smells out of your old box and bought every new litter you could think of, it’s very possible that your cat simply can’t bring themselves to use that box ever again.
Cats have incredible association skills, and it’s very possible that they remember all too well how they felt when they used that box in the past, and they’ll have no interest in continuing to use it now that they’re feeling better. Buying a brand new litter box can be just the ticket to giving your cat the confidence it needs to try using the litter once again, rather than your shoes.
Make These Other Areas Less Appealing
Another important step you’ll need to take when retraining your cat to use a litter box after a UTI will be to make all the other spaces in your home significantly less appealing. Of course, this may seem a bit inconvenient to you at the moment, but it’s important to remember that it will be worth it in the long run.
For example, if your cat has a fondness for urinating where your living room curtains meet the floor, then try lifting up your curtains so that there’s too much of a space between the two.
Your cat may have decided that urinating under your bed is a great space. This space is often pretty popular because it’s dark and secluded. To remove this sense of comfort, try adding a motion-activated light to your bedroom for a bit, which can help deter your cat from relieving themselves where they know they’re being watched.
If your cat has taken a fancy to urinate on your brand new fabric sofa, then the best thing you can do is to add a plastic cover. Not only will this help protect your furniture, but cats hate the feel and smell of plastic. Placing this over any space where they’ve decided to make their new area can be the best way to discourage this aggravating habit.
Play to Your Cat’s Preferences
Are you just having an absolutely horrible time trying to get your cat to pee anywhere other than this one specific spot? Then try moving the litter box there. It may very well be that this is the space where your cat feels most comfortable at the moment, and instead of inconveniencing yourself, turn this habit into your own advantage.
Moving the litter box into this space can be a great way to give your cat the reassociation it needs to choose the box, rather than just that spot. After a few days, you can try moving the box once again to its old location and see if the habit has stuck. If not, move the litter box into that area once again, wait a few more days, and give it another try.
Retraining your cat to use a litter box after a UTI can be a serious challenge. Cats really do hate pain and will do anything they can to avoid that feeling even after they’ve been cured. However, by being patient and sticking with a plan, you can quickly get your cat back in the habit of using their litter box whenever they feel the need. Keep these tips in mind and start your retraining regimen today.
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