Why Your Cat Suddenly Stops Using the Litter Box. A helpful and useful guide.
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Cats are great companions for lots of people. They provide affection and love, and a great many people benefit from this. Indeed, studies have shown that having a cat or a dog can help to relieve loneliness and depression. This makes cats pretty special creatures.
Cats are also very clean creatures. One thing that many people like about cats is that they use their own litter tray. This makes it incredibly easy to house train them. By contrast, dogs need to be taken outside to relieve themselves, and it can take a bit more to train them.
While cats like to keep clean and use a litter tray indoors, there are times when this behavior becomes disrupted. If you notice your 400;”>cat not using a litter box all of a sudden, it can be pretty jarring. This is especially the case if it seems like a sudden change in behavior.
What Not to Do
Understandably, when a cat goes to the toilet indoors, it can be quite upsetting. The worst thing that you can do is shout at the cat. This will only frighten and confuse your pet. Imagine it from the cat’s perspective, namely that your cat is engaging in a behavior for a good reason and then confronted by anger and loud noise by you.
Doing this can actually make the problem worse as your cat becomes even more scared and puzzled. If you find your cat not using a litter box all of a sudden, it’s really important to remember that there’s a reason behind it. You may not understand why, but it’s important to try to find out so that you can fix it.
Why Is It Happening?
400;”>Cats are habitually clean creatures, and if your cat has stopped using the litter box all of a sudden, there’s a good reason for it. It’s your job to find out why and to put a plan in place to fix it. With that in mind, here are some common reasons that you may find your cat not using a litter box all of a sudden:
There are certainly a number of psychological reasons that your cat might have stopped using its litter box, but there are also a number of health issues that can cause it. Diabetes, urinary infections, and kidney infections can all cause a cat to stop using its litter tray. It’s also not uncommon for very old cats with dementia to stop using the litter tray.
Before you explore other reasons that this might be happening, the first thing to do is to take your cat to the local vet to be checked out. In this context, it could be a very quick fix if your cat can go onto medication that can help it. If you find your cat not using a litter box all of a sudden, consider health issues first.
Is Your Cat Declawed?
Cat claws are an integral part of their physical and psychological makeup. When they are removed, it can cause a cascade of all sorts of other behavioral problems, including defecating and peeing indoors. If you’ve just had your cat declawed, this could well be the primary reason that it is not using the litter box.
For many cats that have been declawed, they continue to have sensitive paws for the rest of their lives. Quite apart from the psychological damage that declawing will do to a cat, the litter tray may simply feel strange to the cat’s sensitive paws, and your feline friend may be avoiding using it for this reason.
The Litter Box Is Dirty
Would you want to use a bathroom that is dirty and smelly? Cats are very clean creatures and always prefer using a little box that is as clean as possible. It can become filled with cat poop and pee pretty quickly, so it’s really important to keep it clean.
Make sure that you scoop it out every day and wash it once a month. You would hate to go to the toilet if it weren’t flushed, so don’t expect your cat to do the same.
Cats can be pretty strange, and it’s important for us to remember that they are a different species. They are not like us and do have their own rules for behavior. In this sense, it’s really important to try to develop a rapport with your cat so that you get an idea of why it might be behaving the way it is.
One very common reason for cats not using the litter tray is that it’s simply in the wrong area. If it’s in a noisy area, the cat may develop an aversion to using it. It might be that your kids play loudly right next to it or that the cat hates the sound of the washing machine when it’s on. This can force your pet to seek other toilet arrangements that you might not agree with.
If you have more than one cat in your home, they really do need their own litter trays to use in different locations. Male cats, in particular, will become quite territorial, and a cat may avoid using a specific litter tray because it crosses into the territory of one of the other cats in the home. Just remember that cats aren’t like us, but their behaviors are completely rational.
A Covered Tray
Some people prefer to cover their cat’s litter trays with a plastic roof because it keeps the litter out of sight and gives the cat privacy. This is really not always a good idea. While it might be convenient for you, your cat will probably hate it.
Cats like to know what’s going on around them all the time. A covered litter tray encloses them and can make them feel vulnerable to attack. This is a common issue in homes where there is more than one cat.
A covered tray also means that the air doesn’t get to the litter as easily to dry it out. This leads to the tray itself becoming smelly and unappealing to your cat.
Litter Box Is Too Small
It’s very important that you buy a litter box that is the right size for your cat. If you have a small one when your cat is only a kitten, just bear in mind that it will grow, get bigger, and likely need a bigger litter tray.
Cats will feel confined in litter boxes that are too small for them, and this may cause a sudden change in their behavior. The lesson here is to buy a litter box that is the right size for your feline friend. Better than the box is too big than too small as far as your cat is concerned.
They Hate the Plastic Liners
Cats are fussy creatures, and we often don’t really understand why they do certain things. In fact, a lot of cats hate those plastic litter tray liners. They might be convenient for cleaning, but some cats hate the way they feel under their paws.
If you’re using these liners, it might just be time to stop. The other problem is that the cat urine will pool on the liners and just sit there. Your cat will hate this even more. Just make sure that when you’re not using plastic liners, you clean the tray out a few times a day with a scoop. Your nose will thank you, too.
Issues with the Litter
You might be thinking that cats are generally pretty fussy and habitual, and you’d be right. Of course, it only looks this way to us as humans because we place a value judgment on it. The fact is that cats just act in the way that they’re supposed to, and there are always very good reasons that they do what they do. The same can’t always be said for people.
One common issue for cats not using the litter tray is that they just don’t like the kind of litter stuff that you buy. Maybe it smells funny to them, or maybe they just don’t like the way that it feels under their paws.
In general, cats really enjoy sandy litter that has no smell. It feels like the outdoors to them, and it’s also soft on their delicate paws.
The other common problem here occurs when a cat owner just doesn’t put enough litter in the box. Too little means that it gets messy and smelly pretty quickly and your cat will likely look somewhere else to do its business. Fill it with at least three inches of sandy litter, and you should be just fine.
Is Your Cat Stressed Out?
Just like us, our cats are not immune to anxiety and stress. If you’re a cat owner who is in touch with your cat, you might already be seeing some signs that it is stressed out. This could be due to a number of reasons, including but not limited to:
- Territorial issues in a home with multiple cats
- Children playing roughly with them
- Moving home and a sudden change of circumstance
- A new person in the home
- A new baby
All of these things and more can stress a cat out, and your pet might even end up hiding away all day until it’s safe to come out. In cases where a cat is too scared to come out as normal, it will often avoid using the litter box.
Some of these issues are difficult to fix, but you should always try to provide your cat with feelings of security. As aloof as they often seem to be, cats do depend on us and feel anxious when there are sudden changes around them.
New Technology Isn’t Always Best
There are a lot of new-fangled cat litter boxes on the market. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that high technology has infiltrated the cat tray industry.
The problem with many of these high-tech solutions is that cats don’t actually like them. Some of them have motors because they’re self-cleaning, but cats hate the sound and find it irritating. Others are too small and have a tendency to malfunction.
If you have one of these high-tech cat litter boxes, and you notice your cat not using a litter box all of a sudden, it could be because your cat doesn’t like something about it. In these cases, go back to the good old litter tray without all of the high-tech.
The Cleaner Is Too Strong
Your cat has a really incredible sense of smell. In this way, cats really live in another world when compared to our fairly dull human senses. They can hear and smell things that we have no idea about. Dogs are like this too and can smell scents that have been sitting around for up to two weeks, including stains you thought you’d already cleaned up.
If your cat is avoiding the litter box, the cleaner you’re using could be the culprit. Your cat might hate the smell of it, even if you think you’ve wiped away the last vestiges of it. The best way t
o clean a litter box is to use very diluted bleach in warm water and then ensure that you wash it out thoroughly to get rid of any smell.
It’s going to be frustrating when your cat suddenly stops using its litter box. No cat owner wants to have to deal with cleaning up poops deposited around the home.
Of course, cats are unlike us in many ways, and it’s really important to understand that as cat owners we need to try our best to read their language. In this context, it’s never wise to punish your cat or shout at it if it suddenly stops using the litter box.
As annoying as it might be, shouting at your feline when it has just deposited a poop outside of the litter box will tell your cat that it get into trouble with you when it does this. Unlike dogs though, cats will simply become afraid and will likely get even more stressed out and engage in this unwanted behavior even more. They’ll just do it when you’re not around to be angry at them.
The best way to approach this problem is to try to understand things from your cat’s point of view. There are plenty of reasons that cats might not be using their litter boxes and it’s up to you to discover why. There may even be multiple reasons for this behavior. Just go through each potential reason methodically, and try to fix it.