The most common cause of cat toilet problems – and fortunately, most easily fixed – is definitely the litter box itself. While there are many possible causes for cats urinating or defecating outside the box, the box should be the first place you look. Here’s a quick checklist of potential litterbox issues that could very well be the heart of the problem:
- Is it clean? This is really a major issue with most cats. Felines are fastidious and a box that’s soiled or smelly can be a real turn-off. Cats vary in their tolerance for a messy litter box, but just about every cat will eventually reach the “no way!” point where they simply refuse to even go near it. A quick daily scooping session can work wonders.
- Is it TOO clean? Scrubbing and deodorizing a litter box too often can actually create problems – cats rely largely on the sense of smell, and if your box smells too much like disinfectant the cat could actually be confused. This is particularly important with very young cats who are just mastering the art of litter training.
- Is it big enough? Many of the plastic containers sold as litter boxes are far too small for a cat to use comfortably. The litter box should be large enough for the cat to sit in and deep enough for the cat to bury the excrement.
- Have you recently changed your brand of litter? Some cats have very definite preferences about the litter they use. Generally whatever form/brand of litter they’re the most accustomed to is going to have the best success rate.
- Is the box in a private place? Cats like their privacy all the time, and never more than when toilet issues are concerned. A quiet, out-of-the-way location is best.
- Does the cat have constant access? If your cat has to get you to open the basement or garage door in order to get to the litter box, you both have a problem. Be sure the cat can get to the box all the time, whether there’s anyone home or not.
- Is the box a convenient height for the cat? Older cats, just like older humans, get arthritis. If the sides of the box are too high for the cat to climb into easily, there could be problems.
- Are multiple cats sharing the same box? This can be a real issue for some cats, while others don’t seem to mind. If you’ve just introduced a new cat to your household, try setting up a second litter box near the original one.
If your litter box stands up to this checklist, it probably isn’t the cause of the toilet problems.