Litter box location – Pet tip 149
The number one complaint that new cat owners have revolves around the litter box. They complain that their cat sometimes (or never) uses the litter box. Obviously no cat owner wants their cat to eliminate in the house. The fact of the matter is however, is that when cats don’t use their litter boxes it becomes a problem for the entire household. As responsible pet owners we need to figure out what is causing the problem. The first rule of thumb is to see a vet because there are several medical reasons why cats may not want to use the litter box.
Once medical reasons are ruled out then it’s time to look for environmental reasons. A dirty or smelly litter box is next on the list. Solid matter must be removed daily and the entire litter must be changed each week. Each cat in a multi-cat household also needs their own litter box. This is crucial since cats will certainly look for other places to eliminate if their litter boxes are dirty. It’s the same with humans. When we are in a shopping mall for example and we need to use the bathroom we will never choose the dirty stall when given a choice. It’s the same with cats as they also want a clean place to do their business and if their usual place is not clean they will often search for a less appropriate (but clean) place like in a potted plant.
Once we are sure that it is not a dirty litter box that is causing the cat to do its business outside the box and medical causes have been ruled out, then we can move on to location. Where you place your litter box is very important to your cat. Before cats were domesticated they used to eliminate outdoors. When a cat is eliminating it is in a vulnerable state and is susceptible to attack by predators. Even though pet cats have been domesticated they are still hardwired like wild cats in most ways. They may continue to feel vulnerable when eliminating in public or in places in the home where they do not feel safe. If the cat’s litter box is in a place where there is a lot of human traffic, it may feel vulnerable. Choose a quiet place in your home where cats won’t be disturbed when they need to use the litter box. Basements, bathrooms or laundry rooms are all good choices. Definitely choose a place where kids are unlikely to disturb the cat as this can easily make a cat choose another place.
If it is not the location that is causing the problem then it may well be time to ask your vet for an opinion. Vets hear about these problems all the time and they are likely able to provide more accurate causes for this behaviour for your particular cat.