Why did my cat stop using the litter box?

By Jessica

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Changes in litter box behavior can be either medical, behavioral or both.  It can point to conditions such as kidney failure, colitis, hyperthyroid, diabetes and intestinal parasites, so it’s important to first bring your cat to the vet for tests and an examination. If all medical issues are ruled out, then it’s time to tackle the behavioral problems.

Vet help, a veterinarian on JustAnswer offers these general litter box guidelines:


-          The rule of thumb for the amount of litter boxes per household is one per cat plus one. So if you have one cat, have two litter boxes; two cats, three litter boxes and so forth.

-          Make sure to replace litter boxes with new ones once yearly, as they tend to hold onto smells that will be unpleasant to your cat.

-          Kitties tend to prefer uncovered litter boxes to covered ones. If yours is covered, consider trying one without a cover.

-          Steer clear of liners, as many cats don’t like getting their claws stuck on them.

-          Make sure the litter boxes are easily accessible and in private areas. Basements and high traffic areas are not ideal for cat litter boxes, especially if you are having behavior problems.

-          As far as the litter itself, cats definitely have preferences, so experiment with different types: clumping, non-clumping, clay, wheat, etc. Unscented litter is best. Also cats have a depth preference, so make sure the litter stays shallow, around 2 inches.


In addition to litter box care, CriticalCareVet on JustAnswer recommends several products for cleaning and adjusting behavior. Make sure to clean areas where your cat has urinated or defecated outside the box with an enzyme cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle or MisterMax, which will erase scent traces and keep them away from that particular spot.

Cat Attract is a product that can be added to litter to help draw your cat to a certain box. And Feliway, a cat pheromone product can help ease anxiety.