Our cat has taken to peeing in our bathtub instead of in her litter box. While (admittedly) the bathtub is a very reasonable place in regards to cleaning up wayward cat pee, we want to nip this habit in the bud before she picks a new, less-easily cleaned location. Any thoughts on why she’s suddenly developed this weird habit?
Litter Box Confusion in Lazybrook
Dear Litter Box Confusion,
According to vets, cats can stop using the litter box for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, cats are dissatisfied with the placement or number of litter boxes, changes in the environment inside or outside the house, and undiagnosed medical conditions.
First Stop: A Visit To The Vet
The very first course of action to remedy this potty problem is to visit your vet. Several medical conditions may result in a cat not using the litter box, so you’ll want to rule these out before looking at other potential causes. The good news is that most medical conditions that cause lapses in litter box use can typically be easily and inexpensively remedied.
Declawed Cats Can Be Litter Box Averse
Another thing to consider is if your cat is declawed. Declawed cats very often develop an aversion to the litter box because their paws remain sensitive or painful from the surgery, so they avoid scratching in their litter and may begin eliminating around the house instead. Look for products such as aspen or pine wood shavings (commonly used for guinea pigs or mice) or soft paper litter such as Yesterday’s News. Shredded paper is another option for you to try.
Litter Box Maintenance is Key
If you’ve addressed the above issues and come up empty, maybe it’s time to turn your focus to the litter box itself. Vets recommend that you have at least one litter box per cat in the house. Cats can be particular about the placement of their loo as well. A quiet place without loud noises and distractions is ideal. Also, sometimes just a thorough cleaning of the box does the trick. Cats have a highly sensitive sense of smell and can be offended by a litter box that might seem perfectly clean to you. And one last thing: some cats prefer to urinate and defecate in separate litter boxes, so if she’s only peeing in the bathtub but still pooping in the litterbox, it could be that adding a second litter box will fix the problem.
If your cat is consistently going to the bathroom on soft surfaces (carpets, clothing or towels), use a similar item in the litter box. To further encourage use of the box, include some of your cat’s feces or urine and then remove it the next time the box is cleaned. Once use of the box is consistent, try adding a little clay litter with the fabric pieces, then slowly remove the carpet or fabric pieces as your kitty gets used to the new litter.
The good news is that cats’ natural instinct is to cover their waste and a clean, properly placed litterbox is the ideal place for an indoor cat to do what they’re meant to do. Chances are, your cat wants to resume using the litter box as much as you want her to. With a little work and possibly a trip to the vet, you and your fluffernutter should be back on track in the litterbox department soon.
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