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Litter box not used: Some reasons your cat is not using the litter box

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

This discussion blog is about some reasons why your feline cat is not using the litter box. We will use articles evidence and other articles from the internet to have a wide spread of replies, opinions, discussions and let you decide what is good for you.

We will reference the replies with links as below. Happy reading :)

  • "Why Do Some Cats Eliminate Outside the Litter Box?

Litter-Box Management Problems

If your cat isn’t comfortable with her litter box or can’t easily access it, she probably won’t use it. The following common litter-box problems might cause her to eliminate outside of her box:

  1. You haven’t cleaned your cat’s litter box often or thoroughly enough.

  2. You haven’t provided enough litter boxes for your household. Be sure to have a litter box for each of your cats, as well as one extra.

  3. Your cat’s litter box is too small for her.

  4. Your cat can’t easily get to her litter box at all times.

  5. Your cat’s litter box has a hood or liner that makes her uncomfortable.

  6. The litter in your cat’s box is too deep. Cats usually prefer one to two inches of litter".

  • "Cats stop using their litter boxes for a variety of reasons, including issues with the box or litter, dissatisfaction with the placement or number of boxes, changes in the environment inside or outside the house, and undiagnosed medical conditions. You may have to investigate several possibilities before you understand what your cat is trying to tell you, but most issues are easy to remedy.

Try to keep in mind that cats don't eliminate outside their litter box to purposefully annoy you. Punishment won't stop or correct the behavior. Since most cases of litter box avoidance are stress-related, punishment only increases the stress (for you and your kitty) and makes it harder to identify the real cause.

Why cats don’t use the litter box

Once you've ruled out possible medical conditions as the cause, turn your attention to the litter box itself, since this is most often the culprit. Here are some common reasons why a cat might avoid the litter box:

  1. There aren’t enough litter boxes

  2. He doesn’t like the type of litter

  3. He doesn’t like the type of litter box

  4. He doesn’t like where the box is located

  5. The litter box isn’t clean"

  • "What to Do If Your Cat Eliminates Outside the Litter Box

Basic Tips for Making Cats Feel Better About Using Their Litter Boxes

  1. Virtually all cats like clean litter boxes, so scoop and change your cat’s litter at least once a day. Rinse the litter box out completely with baking soda or unscented soap once a week.

  2. The majority of cats prefer large boxes that they can enter easily. Plastic sweater storage containers make excellent litter boxes.

  3. Most cats like a shallow bed of litter. Provide one to two inches of litter rather than three to four inches.

  4. Most cats prefer clumping, unscented litter.

  5. Your cat may prefer the type of litter she used as a kitten.

  6. Most cats don’t like box liners or lids on their boxes.

  7. Cats like their litter boxes located in a quiet but not “cornered” location. They like to be able to see people or other animals approaching, and they like to have multiple escape routes in case they want to leave their boxes quickly.

  8. Because self-cleaning boxes are generally cleaner than traditional types of litter boxes, many cats accept them readily. However, if you’re using a self-cleaning litter box and your cat starts eliminating outside the box, try switching to a traditional type of litter box".

  • "Reasons cats won’t use the litter box

These common litter box problems could be repelling your cat:

  1. An unclean litter box

  2. Too few litter boxes for the cats in the household

  3. A cramped litter box

  4. A litter box with a hood or liner

  5. A litter box with sides that are high

  6. Too much litter in the box

  7. An uncomfortable location that doesn’t allow for privacy and multiple escape routes

  8. A change in the kind of litter your use

  9. Negative associations. Your cat may have been upset while using the box. They may also connect the box with painful elimination, even if their health is back to normal

  10. Stressors like moving, adding new animals or family members to the household

  11. A conflict with another cat in the household

  12. A new preference for eliminating on certain surfaces or textures like carpet, potting soil, or bedding"

  • "8 Common reasons why the cat will not use the litter box

  1. Dirty litter box - cleanliness

  2. Placement - location is vital

  3. Litter Changes - change in litter box behaviour

  4. Litter box issues - size, shape, depth...

  5. Environmental changes - cats are habit creatures, so changes they do not like

  6. Territorial Disputes - dispute between cats

  7. Overcrowding - too many cats?

  8. Spraying - territory spray urine"?

  • "Place litter boxes in accessible locations, away from high-traffic areas and away from areas where the cat might feel trapped. If you live in a multistory residence, you may need to provide a litter box on each level. Keep boxes away from busy, loud or intimidating places, like next to your washer and dryer or next to your dog’s food and water bowls, or in areas where there’s a lot of foot traffic.

  • Put your cat’s food bowls somewhere other than right next to her litter box.

  • Remove covers and liners from all litter boxes.

  • Give your cat a choice of litter types. Cats generally prefer clumping litter with a medium to fine texture. Use unscented litter. Offer different types of litter in boxes placed side-by-side to allow your cat to show you her preference.

  • Scoop at least once a day. Once a week, clean all litter boxes with warm water and unscented soap, baking soda or no soap, and completely replace the litter. The problem with scented cleaners is that your cat could develop an aversion to the scent.

  • Clean accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize pet odors. You can find this kind of cleaner at most pet stores.

  • If your cat soils in just a few spots, place litter boxes there. If it’s not possible to put a box in a spot where your cat has eliminated, place her food bowl, water bowl, bed or toys in that area to discourage further elimination.

  • Make inappropriate elimination areas less appealing. Try putting regular or motion-activated lights in dark areas. You can also make surfaces less pleasant to stand on by placing upside-down carpet runners, tin foil or double-sided sticky tape in the area where your cat has eliminated in the past".

Disclaimer: details below


  • Every Pet is different so please seek professional independent advice. This does not substitute as specific advice, but just discussion opinion.

  • The blog serves as a point of discussion, and opinions discussed in the blog is just discussion. It is up to the individual to make there own decision with their own responsibility.

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