Litterbox FAQ

Litterbox FAQ

The single biggest cause of cat owner neurosis is – The Litter Box! Here are the most frequently asked litter box questions and the answers.

Why does my cat urinate in his litter box but sometimes defecate in my bathtub?

Cats urinate more frequently than they defecate so it is likely that after your cat has urinated, the litter box is now too dirty and repulsive to use again. He goes in the tub because it’s always clean there. Every time your cat soils the tub, you most likely clean it immediately, whereas the litter box may go an entire day before you get around to changing the litter. Given the choice of using a clean tub or dirty litter box, your fastidious cat will naturally use the cleaner area. If you are unable to change the litter box more frequently, get another litter box so at least one of them will be clean enough for him to use. He may continue to soil in the tub out of habit so either place another litter box in the tub, or discourage him from using it altogether by filling the tub with about 1/2 inch of water.

My cat prefers to use a back room closet for his litter box. Why won’t he use the litter box I have for him in the kitchen?

Cats like privacy to do their business. Kitchens are usually too busy a place for cats to feel privacy. Cats also don’t like to eliminate in their dining area. Even if you don’t feed your cat in your kitchen, he probably feels uncomfortable soiling in your dining area. I would take the path of least resistance and place his litter box in the back room closet. If that is not acceptable, then I would use a covered litter box near the closet he prefers.

Why is my cat spraying urine on me?

Urine spraying and marking are social, sexual and territorial behaviors. It’s also how cats express extreme emotions such as frustration. Your cat is trying to tell you sometime. Take a good look at what is going on in your home. First, is he neutered? Have there been any social changes, like a roommate moving in or out? Is there a new cat or dog in the neighborhood that he perceives as a rival or threat? Is he being mistreated in any way? Is he healthy? Are you neglecting him? Has your schedule and therefore his routine changed drastically? Are you “seeing another cat” outside your home and bringing back its scent on your clothing? All these things can cause a cat to spray or urine mark. Many people don’t realize it, but both male and female cats can urine mark.

My 6 week old kitten sleeps in bed with me. Early in the morning she crawls to the end of the bed and wets. Why does she do this and what can I do to stop it?

I’ve tried scolding her and washing my bedding to get the smell out. First of all, stop scolding her. It’s not her fault. Very young kittens do not have complete bladder control and cannot be expected to “hold” themselves all night. Because she is wetting at the end of the bed, she is trying to get away from her sleeping area and maybe even to her litter box. Your job is to wake up before she awakens and take her to her litter box. Lavishly praise her for using the litter box and then return to bed. Every night extend the time about 15 minutes and eventually she will have enough control to wait until morning. Also, don’t let her drink too late at night before bedtime so she retires with an empty bladder.

My cat urinates just outside her litter box, not even 2 inches away. Why?

Something is wrong with the litter box. She wants to use it or she wouldn’t get so close to it. Usually this happens when the litter box is dirty. Have you recently changed brands of litter? Maybe the litter box is too small to accommodate her. After you have fixed these things, don’t forget to praise the daylights out of her when she does use it. And resolve to always keep her litter box spotless. How would you like to use a toilet that was only flushed every other day or so?

My cat urinates all over the house in very tiny puddles. What should I do?

See your vet immediately! This is usually a sign of urinary tract problems.

How can I get my cat to stop using my potted plants as a litter box?

Make sure you provide your cat with an attractive litter box. By attractive I mean, attractive to the cat. Most cats like litter that feels and smells natural to them – and there are not a lot of things more natural than the dirt in your plants. A lot of fancy litters with all sorts of additives are attractive to us humans but not to our cats. Place your clean litter box filled with a natural litter next to the plant. Cover the top of the plant pot with aluminum foil. Most cats are repelled by the foil and opt for the adjacent box. Then when kitty uses the litter box, tell her how overjoyed you are. Give her a special treat, a massage or a play session. If she wins the jackpot for using the litter box, she will prefer it to the now unattractive plant. When she is regularly using the litter box, gradually move it to a more desirable location.

My 5 year old neutered male cat just suddenly started spraying my windows! I thought neutered cats won’t spray.

Generally, neutering prevents or stops spraying behavior, but as you have discovered, it’s not 100%. When cats spray windows, doorways, fireplaces or any area where outside smells can enter your home, it’s a sure sign that something out there is provoking it. It can be a tomcat, a female cat in season, maybe even a dog. In your case, I would close the windows so he can’t see out. Maybe even just the sight of a perceived rival or threat is causing him to spray. In addition, place a few drops of your favorite perfume or aftershave by the window to mask out any scent that may be entering through the window. At the same time, your cat needs his confidence and security reinforced. Pay extra special attention to him and under no circumstance reprimand him for his behavior. You will only add stress to stress and worsen the problem. What your cat needs is reassurance and security from you, not your scorn.

I have 9 cats; nearly all of them urinate everywhere. Anything I can do?

When you have this many cats, you’re asking for trouble. However, I’m sure the pleasure far out weighs the problems or you wouldn’t have so many cats. Go back and read about your cats territorial nature and about a cat’s social structure and needs. The best advice I can give you is to make sure all the cats are spayed and neutered and have plenty of clean litter boxes in several different locations.

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