Problem Behavior With a Cat & Litter Box

Stressed out cats often experience litter box problems.
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For cat owners, not many things can be more stressful than sudden litter box issues. If your previously well-behaved feline out of nowhere develops an aversion to using the litter box, take the time to consider what may be the root of her brand new "problem behavior."

Litter Box Preferences

Your cat's bathroom problem may be as simple as her not liking the litter or the box. Maybe she doesn't think that the box is clean enough. Cats prefer their litter boxes immaculate, so make sure to clean them thoroughly at least once a day. Perhaps the fragrance of the litter is too strong for her liking. She may have a problem with the lack of privacy in the litter box location -- cats are notoriously private when it comes to their bathroom routines. The box might be too small and uncomfortable. She may even be relieving herself on the carpet to protest sharing the box with another household cat. Cats tend to prefer having their own individual boxes, so take note. Some simple changes and adjustments may be all that you need to get your pet's litter box routine back on track.


In some cases, cats stop using the litter box because they simply, and frustratingly, like another surface better. If your cat went number two all over your beloved vintage plush rug, it may be a sign that she just likes softer textures better. In this case, solve the icky and embarrassing dilemma by investing in a fine-textured litter. Look for one with pine shavings as a main ingredient, for example.

Outdoor Cats

In some cases, formerly outdoor cats have difficulties in adapting to litter box use. The box may as well be a UFO to your confused kitty! Take control of the situation by trying to emulate the outdoors as much as possible with the litter box. Instead of using litter, try actual soil. To make the experience even more authentic for your cat, throw a few small twigs and leaves in there. Convert your cat gradually into using real litter by slowly and surely mixing it into the dirt.


Despite the "cool cat" reputation they have, felines actually are highly emotional and intuitive beings. Some cats start eliminating outside of the box as a reaction to a very stressful atmosphere. The anxiety and stress could be due to moving to a new house, a new pet in the household, a newborn baby or even the loss of a companion. It could be a result of tension and fighting in the home. When things change for cats, it sometimes leads to trauma. Handle this situation by giving your nervous pet more attention and love than ever. Play with your stressed out kitty more. Cuddle her more. If she's particularly on edge, give her a sanctuary she can call her own, far away from any new pets, fighting and chaos, and make sure it's full of food, water and fun toys.

Health Problems

Litter box problems also can point to health issues in your pet. If your cat is experiencing sudden litter difficulties, waste no time in getting her to the veterinarian. She may be in pain and suffering from an uncomfortable health condition, such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease or intestinal parasites. The sooner you figure out what's going on, the sooner you will get your precious pal back on track to health and wellness, and the sooner you'll stop having to clean up persistent bathroom stains on your floors and carpeting -- phew.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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