When it comes to outside-the-box toilet activities, some cats have a spread-the-wealth mentality; every place is fair game. But others develop an attachment to one spot and will return to it over and over. Here are some ways to convince Kitty not to use a particular place in your house as a substitute litter box.
1. First and most important: get the spot as clean as possible. Cats rely extensively on their sense of smell, and the more that particular corner of the dining room smells like a litter box, the greater the chance it will be used that way. There are lots of ways to get rid of the smell of cat pee, both commercial and homemade. Try ‘am all till you find one that works for you.
2. Make sure your existing litter box meets the general cat criteria for OK to go. The more reasons a cat has to object to the litter box, the more chance she’ll go elsewhere.
3. Put a litter box over the “favorite spot”. This may seem like a real “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” capitulation, but it’s not. If you can get Kitty to use an approved box in that spot, you can gradually move the box away from the spot and hopefully Kitty will follow.
I’ve done this with good results, but if you have a multi-cat household it can get complicated. The last time I tried it two cats who had never to my knowledge peed in that spot apparently thought I had set up an auxiliary box for their convenience and showed their appreciation by using it as often as possible. However, the cat who had been peeing in that spot in the first place just relocated operations a few inches to the left. Not exactly an unqualified success on that occasion, but worth a try.
4. Cover the spot. If you can cover the spot with something like a china closet, great. If they can’t get to the spot they can’t pee on it. If you can’t make the spot inaccessible, try covering it with something that cats dislike, such as aluminum foil or sticky tape.
5. Make the spot uninviting. If you’re thinking there’s nothing on earth that could make a spot more uninviting than the lingering aroma of cat pee, you’re thinking like a human. From a cat perspective, the smell of citronella, lemon, orange peel, vinegar, or mothballs is much worse.
6. If you can catch the cat approaching the spot, a quick shot with a water pistol or a spray bottle can be a deterrent. It’s important to realize that this is NOT a matter of punishing the cat – it’s trying to get the cat to associate the cat with something they don’t like (being wet).