Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Won't My Cat Use The Litter Box?

When a dear client called me to ask me how he could stop his cat, Snow, from defecating outside of his litter box. He stated that this behavior had been going on for months and if the issue wasn't rectified he would consider surrendering Snow to the animal shelter. 

Even before doing my research I was quite aware that inappropriate elimination is often the fault of the human in charge of the litter box duties.
A litter box should be compared to a human's toilet which is flushed every day and therefore must be scooped/changed regularly. If left in the wild, a cat would not choose to walk around in his own waste. Instead, he would simply choose another plot of land and that “plot of land” could be behind my client's sofa or in another area of his home.

Upon further research I found that a cat’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than our own and when his litter box does not meet his standards he will stop using the box entirely.

For years, Scout's owner had been filling the litter box with Tidy Cats Long Lasting Odor Control litter but there are three problems with this litter:  

First of all, this litter is not very good at controlling odor. Secondly, the scent of ammonia is unpleasant. Last, if the soiled litter isn't replaced often enough, the urine will collect at the bottom of the box. The bacteria in the urine will multiply and convert the uric acid into foul-smelling ammonia. 

I carefully suggested that Scout would be happier with clumping (scoopable) litter such as Fresh Step as it is the cleanest, most effective type of cat litter available. The main ingredient, sodium bentotite, acts as a clumping agent, absorbing urine and turning it into tight, solid clumps that can be easily removed from the litter box and disposed of.
Within days of following my advice Scout and his owner are happily coexisting in a home where the litter box is well utilized and relatively odor free!

I hope this information has been a help to every frustrated cat owner who has cleaned up way too many accidents outside of the litter box! Please tell me if you've experienced the same issues and what you've done to correct the problem!


  1. Hello everybodys!!!!!

    Hee Hee!!

    We's don't have kitty's here (well, 'dere is 'dat darn Hello Kitty..'dat giant head cat and she talks a lot and now 'dat you mention it... it is HER 'dat poops in 'da house!! YEAH!! 'dats it)!!

    We's laughing at 'da outhouse photo's!! It's true!! Who wants dirty pottys!! Not me..
    I want a clean kitchen floor to poop on...
    I mean Hello Kitty wants a clean kitchen floors

    WHAT!!!! Oh Momma's coming.... gotta goooooooooo...

    Josie (Butt Anakin.. I means Kitty is 'da pooper)
    {i is looking out for you bro}

  2. I find adding baking soda in the bottom helps too.

  3. Love that post!! It is so true! I scoop the litter pans every morning and clean them out. The kitties will let me know about it if I don't do it just right! All kitties deseve a clean and nice potty pan! Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

  4. We use Tidy Cats here, but we have one cat and change her litter VERY frequently. Weve used it for years, and despite the fact that having a clumping litter would be nice, we're hesitant to change anything because of her allergies.

    But I definitely agree with you. One of the people I pet sit for leaves her litterboxes in horrible, horrible conditions. And it is no wonder that there are usually feces on the floor outside of it. The cats don't want to go in it!

  5. Well, my humans did, but it wasn't so easily solved. It was with Stevie, the kitty who went to the Rainbow Bridge last year. All his life Stevie had done his stuff outside in good weather and had a back-up litter box down in the basement for if he didn't care for the weather and that was mostly fine. He did have one little quirk which was that if you left a towel on the floor next to the shower, he'd pee on it. But if you picked up the towel like you were supposed to, no pee, so it was OK. The problem really started when he started getting older and retired from going outside. A while after that he didn't want to go down to the basement sometimes. There were litter boxes on the main floor, too, but the other cats used them, too and he didn't care for that. Sooo...problems. The only "solution" anyone found was to put wee wee pads on the bathroom floor by the shower. He used them for both jobs pretty well until his death last year.

    wags, Lola

  6. Frankie's Mom here.
    I have only had one cat in my entire life. He was very very fussy about his "potty pan". Within mins. of making a BIG DEPAWSIT he would run to me screaming to have THAT THINGY gotten out of there. I think your advice to the fellow was right on the money. Glad for the cat.

  7. I don't have many problems with the kitty litter because 94% of the cats here go outside. One old cat still uses the boxes but I don't think she sees or smells very well. But that is good info.
    Have a great week end.

  8. Scoopable litter? Genius! Never heard of the stuff.

  9. What an informative post!! I don't have any kitties of my own but my mom checks in on our friend's kitties sometimes. I got a laugh out of Frankie's mom's comment. BOL!


  10. If I was a kitteh I would want a clean potty box, that's for sure. :)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  11. I haven't had a cat in years,but my best friend has two. One, the male stopped using the box and she tried changing litter, but it didn't help. She had him checked by the vet and the poor little guy had an infection. Why he chose not to use the box is a mystery, but after clearing up the infection, he happily started using his box again.

    She also had to have separate boxes for the two cats. They didn't like sharing.

  12. You hit on a sensitive issue here! We had a pair of cats a while back and it was such a problem that my husband has vowed we will never have another cat. We tried everything! We had the Fresh Step clumping litter, we had an automated litter box that would scoop things as soon as the cats got out of the box, we put in baking soda. You name the trick and we tried it, and STILL that darned cat would pee on the floor. Unless a miracle happens, another one will probably never get into our house, which I find sad, but on the other hand, it's just not worth all the stress that came along with the issue.

  13. Good post=all litter boxes should be cleaned at least once everyday; glad Snow is using her litter box and Justin can keep her!...Happy weekend sweet friends, stay cool in this terrible heat...kitty kisses...Calle, Halle, Sukki

  14. I had a cat who passed away from Cancer in the kidneys...that's why he started defecating outside the box...he was sick...In regards to the outside pooping cats, please make sure your cat does there business in the woods or in your own neighborhood "cat colony" tends to leave little "presents" on my driveway and walkway...doesn't make me too pleased...I do understand that a cats got to do what a cats got to do...but when I take my pugs on walks I don't leave presents in anyone else's property. I have one cat living and she wouldn't dare escape from the AC and loves her litter box...lucky for me. :)
    -Mama #2 from The Slimmer Pugs

  15. Wow, I did not realize what a sensitive issue cat litter and litter boxes were until now! Thanks for all of the comments and added suggestions!
    I will try to address as many comments as I can so lets start with....
    1) The Elgin Pugs...well, if you are going to blame your cat please make sure you stay away from those claws....heehee!
    2) To everyone who agreed that a clean litter box makes FUR a happy, well-adjusted cat, I couldn't agree more! Meow!
    3)To Houndstooth...I am deeply sorry that all of the litter issues did not work out for you! I am no veterinarian and I am no Cat Whisperer so I cannot figure out why your cat did not "fall for" the clumping/scoopable litter! It goes to show that all cats are not created equal and that every cat has a purrsonality all his/her own!
    4) Adding baking soda to the litter is a purrfect idea and one that I should've included in this post! From what I've read, baking soda is the only deodorizer cats approve of!

  16. miss april,
    if i were a kitty, i'd want a super clean potty, too! who would evarrr wanna have to step through poop to do their business? ewwwww.
    the booker man

    pee s -- please woof hihi to miss daisy for me!

  17. Cute..we like the porta potty...we bet kitty litter will help it to smell better. No kittys here either, only at our friends house.
    Benny & Lily

    Pee S. Momma said your page is faster without that bar on the bottom.

  18. Our Mommeh scoops morning and night. We use Feline Pine clumping litter. Since Harley has EGC, we wanted to use something that was perfume and dye free. And we like the soft, sawdust feel under our paws.

  19. Hi - Thank you for visiting our blog! It's always nice to meet new friends!

    I agree. Just like humans always flush afterward, cats want their toilet cleaned every time.

    By the way, I didn't know the breed Coonhound. They look like cousins of us Beagles, don't they?


  20. Our cat started peeing everywhere else except the litter box. We took him to the vet and found out he had a bad urinary infection. So if he starts doing it again, you'll definitely need to take him to get checked!


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