Stops using Litter Box
A cat that suddenly stops
using the litter box is making a statement: something is
wrong. If your cat won't use the litter box your first call
should be to your vet. It could be illness (a urinary tract
infection is a serious illness and requires prompt veterinary care).
Once you have ruled out a medical reason other possible causes include;
a dirty litter box, change in the type of litter you use, or perhaps
something scared her the last time she used the litter box, distress
over the introduction of a new pet or baby into the home, or moving to
a new home, .
Here are a few
steps you can make to get your cat back on track:
Destroy the Evidence
– Once a cat has marked an area with urine or feces, the cat
may naturally regard it as an appropriate area for relieving
itself. Do all that you can to eliminate any trace of odor
from the “trouble spot”. Clean it
thoroughly with a liquid, enzyme cleaner or vinegar. You can
also cover the area with a plastic carpet runner with the spike side
up, self-sticking shelf paper placed with sticky side up, or aluminum
foil. If your cat still can’t resist the area, try
placing its food there. Cats are not likely to urinate where
Freshen Up – Your
cat’s sense of smell is nearly 1000 times better than yours,
so clean the litter box thoroughly and make sure you remove feces and
urine clumps daily. If your cat does not respond to a clean
litter box you may need to replace it. Old litter boxed can
become scratched and permeated with a scent your cat finds
Make Over your Litter Box
– Hooded litter boxes were designed for owners not
cats. Try removing the hoods and rethink the location of the
boxes. They should be in a quiet, out of the way places with
convenient access for your cats. Keep the boxes away from
bright lights, loud noises, and vibrations from washing machines or
furnaces. If your home has multiple floors, have a box on
each level. Finally, do not put a litter box near the
cat’s food dishes.
The Right Litter –
Cats prefer fine-grained litter because it is softer on their sensitive
paws. Many of the low-dust scoop-able clay litters on the
market today are usually acceptable to your cat. It is also
recommended that you used unscented litter since many cats are repelled
by the odor of scented litters. For the same reason, it’s not
a good idea to place a room deodorizer or air freshener near the litter
box. A thin layer of baking soda placed on the bottom of the box will
help absorb odors without repelling your cat. Odor shouldn’t
be a problem if the litter box is kept clean. Once you find a litter
your cat likes, don't change types or brands. Constantly switching your
cat’s litter could result in your cat not using the litter
box. One exception to switching your litter is to use a
special litter formulated for problem cats. I had an
experience with a very difficult kitten who didn't want to use the
litter box. I tried all of the tips and tricks and nothing
worked. I went to a local pet store and one of the
salespeople told me about Dr.
Elsey's Cat Attract Cat Litter As
soon as I started using it my kitten (who never used the litter box
before) started using the litter box. I was amazed.
Once I found that she was sufficiently trained I started slowly mixing
a different brand in with the cat attract over several weeks since
using cat attract all the time can be a little pricey. But
for anyone with a difficult cat or training a new kitten it is worth
it. If you have any questions about my experience you can go
to the feedback page
and ask me there. Don't forget to leave your email so I can
write you back.
De-stress your Cat –
Stress is the leading cause of litter box problems.
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to help ease your
cat’s mind. Cats are territorial by nature and need
to feel secure in their environment in order to relax.
Therefore, in homes with multiple cats make sure each cat has a
separate zone with its own bowls, litter box, and bed or elevated perch
for relaxing. Play with your cat for at least 15 minutes
every day and make sure she has plenty of toys to play with when you
are away. Make sure you show your cat lots of attention and
love and praise her when she uses the litter box.
A good scratching post
should help eliminate this problem. The scratching post
should be high enough for him to stretch (at least 30 inches tall),
have a sturdy base, and should consist of the right material.
Soft carpet-like materials are not usually the best choice.
Better materials include sisal rope and pine . I have had
great success with the sisal rope post, my cats love it. You may need
to experiment to see which material your cat likes
There are certain steps
you can take to train your cat to use the scratching post.
When you see your cat start to scratch something that is off limits,
pick him up and take him to the scratching post. Play with him there
with his favorite toy, encouraging him to climb and scratch.
Stimulate his urge to stretch by petting him with firm strokes down the
neck and back. Always reward him with gentle petting and
praise when he uses the post properly. If you have a large
house, you may want to have two posts, one near his bed and one near
the couch or chair that he likes to scratch the most. You can
also rub catnip on the scratching post to make it more enticing to
If your cat prefers using
both the post and your furniture there are other methods for
discouraging him or her. You can cover the item he is
scratching with unpleasant material such as plastic, double-sided tape,
or aluminum foil.
If your can stays
indoors, keeping his claws in good condition with regular trimmings
will also help to reduce clawing furniture.
A few cats may prefer
scratching on a flat horizontal surface. Cardboard scratching
boxes available at most pet stores are a good choice for these
It is also important to
keep you cat both physically and mentally stimulated. Many of
a cat’s aggressive behaviors stems from the fact that he is
bored or frustrated. Make sure your cat has a variety of toys
of different shapes, sizes, textures, and movement to keep him/her
occupied. For more information on cat toys see Cat supplies,
Spraying or marking
territory with urine, is a natural behavior for both male and female
cats. It should not be confused with ordinary urination
outside of the litter box. Spraying usually involves just a
small amount of urine on walls, furniture, floor, or occasionally the
owner’s bed or clothes. A trail of urine on the
floor means the cat was standing to spray not squatting to
urinate. Since the frequency with which it occurs is related
to hormone levels and sexual state, the problem can be reduced or
eliminated by neutering the cat.
However, even neutered
cats spray occasionally if an established territorial pattern has been
disrupted by moving to a new home, being forbidden from a space
formerly allowed, or by adding a new cat to the family.
You can discourage cats
from spraying in a number of ways. You should clean the area
completely with an enzyme product specifically designed to remove pet
odors. This will help prevent your cat from going back to the
same area. You can also use your cat’s pheromones
to trick your cat into thinking the territory is already
marked. To do this, simply rub a soft cloth between your
cat’s eye and ear. Wipe the cloth on the soiled
area repeatedly over several weeks. This tells your cat that
this is a friendly zone and diminishes the need for them to mark the
area. Remember this is only useful for marking not for
urinating outside the litter box. You can also place a
scratching post where your cat normally marks so the cat will mark with
the scent off its pads and not with urine. You can also leave
a little of your cat's food in the areas where the cat
sprays. This helps for two reasons. First, the
smell of the food has a calming effect on the cat making him less
likely to spray. Second, cats don't usually spray where there
A taste for fresh greens
is a natural reaction for your cat. If your cat spends some
time outdoors where grass and plants are readily available she may
never touch a houseplant. Indoor cats have little choice but
to go after these plants to satisfy their salad craving.
Some houseplants are
poisonous, so you must either remove them from your home or make sure
your cat cannot reach them. You can persuade your cat from
particular plants by planting a pot or two of something safe and edible
just for her. You can also purchase pet greens and pre-sown
planters from your local pet store.
If, despite all, your cat
heads for the wrong plant again, correct her and take her to her own
foliage. Make sure her plants are easily accessible for
her. A little cayenne pepper or vinegar on the plant's leaves
will make them less tasty for your cat.
Good Plants for a Kitty Garden
Lawn grass, cat nip, petunias, oat grass,
Toxic Plants (partial list)
Cane (all types)
Cats jumping up on counters or tables in
the kitchen can be a nuisance, plus very dangerous for the cat if he
happens to jump on a hot stove versus a counter. Cats love
to jump. It is in their nature. They love being in
high places and they are also naturally curious about the
unknown. This is a common behavior problem that many cat
owners seem to face. Fortunately, there are some things you
can try to help rid your cat of this undesirable behavior.
One of the first things
you can use to deter your cat is noise. It is important
however, that you disassociate yourself from the noise so the cat
doesn't know it is coming from you. If the cat cannot
determine where the noise is coming from, it should quickly learn to
stay away from the area whether the owner is present or not. Cats do
not like loud noises and will associate the noise with the behavior and
avoid it. Throwing or shaking a metal can full of pennies or popping a
balloon are two of the most common noise deterrents used.
Another method you can
try (that doesn't require you to be there to catch your cat in the act)
is to place various items on the counter or table that your cat will
dislike. You can place double sided tape along the edges of
the counter. Cats hate the feeling of sticky tape, and will
be discouraged after one or two tries. You can also place
aluminum foil along your countertops. Not only do cats
dislike the feeling of the aluminum but they also hate the noise as
You can also try a
combination of the two methods. This is done by popping a
balloon if front of your cat a couple of times. Your cat will
soon learn that he dislikes balloons a lot. Then you can tape
some filled balloons along your countertop. The cat will
associate the balloons with the noise they heard previously and will
want to avoid them. There
may be other items your cat does not like because of the sound they
make. Placing several of these on the counter within visual range of
the cat, may also persuade your cat to stop jumping up.
It is also important to
try to redirect your cat's attention away from the areas by giving him
areas he is aloud to jump on. You may want to invest in a
climbing tree or cat tower to help satisfy your cat's urge to jump and
climb. Make the tree more desirable by placing toys on it or
rubbing catnip on the posts. Window seats may also help deter
your cat by allowing them to jump up to the window and being able to
explore what is outside. Make sure to praise your cat when he
uses the designated jumping areas.
There are also several
commercial products specifically designed for this type of behavior
problem. One type of product is motion detectors, these
products detect your cats movements and emit an alarm. There
is also a product called X-mat
which has hundreds of raised bumps, creating passive
discomfort that teaches your cat to steer clear of kitchen counters
without the use of alarms or electricity.
Nipping can become a
habit you might be encouraging without even realizing it.
When you tickle your kitten’s stomach and allow him to
wrestle with your fingers he will probably respond by nipping and
scratching at your hand. Allowing him to do this reinforces
inappropriate behavior and teaches him the hand biting is allowed.
- Never encourage your
kitten to play aggressively. If he tries to nip or scratch
your hand, teach him that this behavior is not allowed.
- Disengage your hang by
gently pushing toward him (if you try to pull away, he’ll
hand on even more tightly). Give him toys instead of your
- Leave him alone for a
few minutes. Return after he has calmed down and try playing
again using a proper toy.
- If he continues to
grab your hand, say “NO” in a stern
voice. He’ll soon get the idea
* For in-depth information on different types of
aggression and how to solve them see our article Cat Aggression
and Excessive Meowing
There are many good
reasons why your cat could be fussing. Does he have fresh
food, water and a clean litter box? Have you checked him for
injury or sign of illness? Has he been left without
companionship for a few days? Is kitty a she-cat longing for
a he-cat? Is he a former country farm boy who is now confined
to a city apartment?
Some cats are naturally
more vocal than others (Siamese have a reputation of being loudmouths),
but persistent yowling with no apparent cause can dim an otherwise
pleasant relationship. The following steps may reduce or
eliminate the problem:
- Neuter/Spay your
cat. Noise if often related to sexual cycles.
- Increase cuddle and
playtime. Like people, some individuals are affection
- Leave toys for her to
play with when you are away.
- If you have an outdoor
cat, install a pet door so she can go in and out as she pleases if you
live in an area where that is safe.
- If it’s not
safe for her to roam, build an outdoor wire-enclosed play
yard. Furnish it with interesting things to see and do such
as an old tree trunk to climb on, a grassy spot for munching, and
elevated platform for sunbathing. Include a pet door or other
access to warm, dry shelter.
- Leave the radio on for
your cat if you plan to be away for a while.
Repeated vomiting is a
sign of illness or hairballs and should be discussed with your
veterinarian. Regurgitation of recently eaten undigested
food, however, falls in to the category of embarrassing
nuisance. The best solution is to try to avoid its
Some possibilities to
- Food served too cold,
straight from the refrigerator. (Warm it to room temperature.)
- Being a piggy and
eating too much at one time. (Try frequent, smaller servings, or if
he’s not overweight, keep a bowl of dry food out for him to
snack on when he chooses.)
- Being a piggy and
eating too fast (Same remedy as above)
– separate feeding areas of several pets.
Aggression - Do you have problems with an aggressive
Learn about the different types of aggressive behavior
in cats and how to solve them!
Secrets Revealed is a great
downloadable e-book to
help with all different kinds of cat problems. This book will
help you gain a deeper understanding of your cat’s
behavior. Then armed with the very best strategies and
advice, you can deal
with stressful behavior challenges without one ounce of
harm to you cat. The best part is you get it right away and
not have to wait for snail mail.