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Cats avoid using the litter box for a number of reasons. Problems with the litter or the box, changes in the household environment, discontentment with the box placement, behavioral problem or health issues may be some of the underlying causes.
It is important to investigate several possibilities as to what may have triggered this change. Punishing or yelling at your cat is not the answer. As most cases are due to stress, punishing your cat may add to the stress, making it harder to recognize the real cause.
If your kitty has suddenly stopped using the litter-box, the first step is to always take him/her to the vet for a thorough physical examination. Most health issues may be cured easily at a low cost. Some early warning indications that your cat might need to be taken to the vet are - excessively licking of the genital area, difficulty in passing urine or blood in the urine.
Declawing in cats:
Declawing makes a cat’s paws sore and tender, which is why they may develop an aversion towards the litter and may begin eliminating elsewhere.
Behavioral and stress-related issues:
Changes in your feline’s defecating behavior may also be associated with stress. Changes in the household environment or introduction of new members in the family, may also cause stress among cats causing them to reject the litter-box. This may be temporary until your cat gets used to its environment.
Problems related to the litter-box itself:
An unclean and smelly litter-box may cause your cat to avoid using the litter-box. Cats are known to reject a litter-box if it’s not up to their standards.
Location of the box is also an important factor. Moving of the box should be done slowly, to give your cat time to adjust to the new location. Changing the location of the box suddenly may also be a problem as it creates confusion, especially among older cats.
Litter and litter-box preference: Changing the type or brand of litter or litter-box may also cause a cat to avoid using its litter-box.
Solutions and Treatments:
Prevention is better than cure. There are some steps that can be taken to prevent your cat from defecating elsewhere.
It is suggested to change your cat’s litter at least once a day. Cats like a shallow bed of litter so use as less litter as possible. Cats are animals of habit and therefore have specific preferences about litter. The most preferable type of litter to most cats is unscented clumping litter that’s the consistency of fine sand.
It is preferred to use a large litter-box with no box liners or lids. Thoroughly rinsing the box with baking soda or unscented soap at least once a week is a must. You could also try a self-cleaning litter-box. A litter-box with low sides is recommended for older, demented or arthritic cats.
Move the litter box to a quiet, low-light location where your cat is able to see anyone approaching and can escape quickly. Keep the box away from food and water. Add different litter boxes in different locations and provide one litter-box for each cat.