Litterbox problems are the number one feline behavior issue. Unfortunately, many cats are surrendered to shelters and adoption clinics or even euthanized because of these issues. Often, these problems are easily remedied by taking the following steps:
- Schedule a vet visit - a medical issue could be causing your cat's elimination problems.
- Clean the litterbox consistently - scoop litter daily and change the litter completely and wash the box with a mild detergent or enzymatic cleaner once or twice a week.
- Remove the smell - if your cat has a particular area that he or she likes to soil, use a special enzymatic cleaner to eliminate the smell of urine or feces that may be attracting your cat back to that spot.
- Create the ideal kitty litterbox - Provide a litterbox on each level of the home and make sure they are easy to find. Don't suddenly re-locate the boxes or place them in noisy areas or by food dishes. A general rule to follow is to have one more box than the number of cats in the home.
- Keep it free from heavy scents - avoid scented litters, cleaning with heavily scented products, and placing deodorizers near the box. Choose fine-grained, soft, clumping, unscented litters. Once you find a litter that your cat likes to use, stick with it! In general, cats develop a litter preference when they are kittens.
- Don't overfill the litter box. Cats prefer the litter to be 1-2 inches deep.
- Most cats prefer uncovered litterboxes because covered boxes trap odors. If you are using a covered box and having problems, try switching to an un-covered box.
- Don't use plastic litterbox liners. Cats' claws tend to get caught in the plastic when they bury their waste.
- Consider how old the litterbox is. Urine residue can build up in a plastic box causing it to smell aversive to the cat. Boxes should be replaced at least once a year.
- Contact a professional animal behaviorist - if you have tried all of the above and your litterbox problems have not resolved.