Cat's Litter Box

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by Monica Webb, Forum Moderator -

Q. My cat refuses to use the litter box anymore. Any ideas why and how can I get her to use it again?

Here are a few suggestions to your litter box problems:

Provide a box for each cat

Change litter daily

Provide constant access to a box

Go back to previously used brand of litter and/or

Discontinue new disinfectant

Move box to where it was previously used

Eliminate new or frightening noise near litter box

Move food and water away from litter box

If cat is only going in one spot, put the litter box at the exact location and gradually move it back to where you want it at the rate of one foot per day

If there are several places, try putting dishes of cat food in those areas to discourage further elimination there

Experiment with different textures of litter (cats prefer sandy litter)

Use a covered litter box for cats that stand in box but eliminate outside of it

Another important thing to consider is that there may be a medical reason. Check with your vet. I work for a vet and know that often (though not always) there is a medical problem behind this.

Is this your only cat? Or do you have 1-2 other cats using the same litter box? Some cats stop using it because the other cats no longer cover their "stuff". If so simply get another litter box, so that they each had their own. It's also possible that your cat does not like the litter you are using, or she feels it is too dirty to use. Cat's get picky like that when they get older.

Not to plug someone's product but...our Siamese decided one day that she would not use the litter box anymore. Turned out that if I was slow in getting the waste scooped out she figured her precious feet were not going to step into it. To make a long story short, I bought a self cleaning litter box. The upfront price for this thing is ridiculous ($100.00 for baseline noisy model, $200.00 for top of the line) but in the end I was able to justify it because she had no problem what so ever after I brought it home!!

Also you can go to a janitorial supply for a uric acid eradicator. It contains an enzyme that actually eats the acid in the urine and leaves behind a pleasant smell. All you have to do is fill a spray bottle and saturate the area and keep it wet for 2 or three hours and the smell will be gone for good.

It might be the state of cleanliness of the litter box. I started using "Litter Pearls" - little absorbent clear beads. Also ridiculously expensive - $12.95 a bag, although I just ordered them online at for $7.95, and they are great. No smell ever (except the gas right after they poop). Scoop the solid stuff out, and the urine gets absorbed and there is no smell, and no sand on the floor (occasionally the little pearls get on the floor, but they are much more pleasant to step on than the sand!) They advertise that you use one bag for one month with one cat; we have two cats and use 2 bags in a big litter box, and it lasts about 2 weeks. Anyway, just thought I'd put my two cents' worth (or two cats' worth!) in!

I got the Littermaid litter box about a month ago as one of my 3 cats was going outside the litter box. Yes, we have a second litter box and I was scooping both twice a day but this just wasn't enough. I guess I have the $100 noisy version but the noise isn't that bad and with the peace of mind I've gotten made the cost worth it for me.

There are so many possible reasons your cat is doing that - could be emotional too. But when I had that problem, I went out and bought one of those large plastic sweater storage containers that you keep under the bed...I filled it with litter and he started using it. I guess he just felt the other one was too small for him to dig around in. You could try it - they are very inexpensive.