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Why Won’t My Cat Use the Litter Box?

After a long day at the office, a grocery store run, or a PTA meeting, there’s nothing worse than coming home to a smelly surprise from your cat. Unfortunately, even the most well-behaved felines can miss their litter box on occasion. While this infrequent defecation or elimination “oops” is one of the inevitable hazards of pet ownership, up to 10 percent of cats will develop serious elimination problems in their lifetime—especially during their senior years

Before you can fix this messy situation, it’s vital to understand the potential problems that might be deterring your pet from using his or her litter box. If your cat isn’t using their litter box or is experiencing potty-training problems out of nowhere and you aren’t sure what to do, this post is for you!

What Causes Litter Box Avoidance?

There are many helpful strategies to steer your kitty back towards correctly using their litter box. However, before we can work on improving their habits, the reason behind the issue needs to be determined. While a full spectrum of contributing problems is possible, litter box avoidance can usually be triggered by one—or more—of these categories.

Medical Reasons

Urinary tract infections, feline interstitial cystitis, and bladder stones or bladder blockage are all common causes of pain when urinating or defecating. If your cat experiences pain while trying to use their litter box, know that they don’t have the high-level capacity to identify the source of their discomfort. Instead, they only know that using the litter box makes something hurt and may try to find another place to relieve themselves as a result.

If you notice a significant change in your furry companion’s restroom habits, including frequent urination, lots of time spent in the litter box, or urinating and defecating outside the litter box, visiting the vet can help identify—or rule out—any significant medical concerns.

Anxiety or Stress

Just like with humans, if your pet is experiencing anxiety or stress, it can manifest in physical symptoms. For cats, that means behaviors like litter box avoidance or tearing up the couch. Significant lifestyle changes, such as a move, a new pet, or a new family member, can trigger poor litter box habits. Smaller changes can also induce anxiety or stress in your cat, like trying a new type of litter or moving your feline’s litter box to a new location. Even emotional tension within a household can affect your cat’s litter box habits.

Poor Litter Box Planning

Cats are creatures of comfort and habit. Their particular nature means that if aspects of their living conditions aren’t up to their mysterious standards, they’ll begin acting out in response. The location, privacy, and comfort of your feline’s litter box all play a large role in ensuring its usage. Its cleanliness matters, too. If you wouldn’t want to use a dirty, dingy, unpleasant-smelling restroom, your cat probably doesn’t either.

How to Encourage Proper Litter Box Usage

So, you’ve ruled out potential health complications and have done what you can to make sure your cat has a safe, calm, and comfortable place in which to do their business. What more can you do? Consider these tips to encourage proper litter box usage and ensure that your furry friend maintains their healthy bathroom habits.

Keep It Clean

Your cat’s litter box should be scooped at least once every day and filled with fresh litter every few days. Consider a regular deep clean with an unscented, gentle soap to remove any lingering odors. If you use a larger litter box (most cats actually prefer this!), ensure that the litter inside is no more than an inch or two deep to provide maximum comfort to your pet during urination.

Make It Private

Always alert, your cat likes to know if any people or other animals are in their vicinity, and always has multiple escape routes planned. If your feline companion has quit using their litter box, try moving it to a low-traffic, quiet, dim area of your home. This will allow any kitty to feel safe, encouraging them to do their business.

Eliminate Odor Confusion

If your cat has urinated outside their litter box before, that scent will linger in the soiled area. Make sure to thoroughly clean any accident site not only for the sake of your home, carpets, and furniture, but to eliminate any confusion for your cat regarding where it’s okay for him or her to take care of business.

Support Your Cat’s Health With Wapiti

High-quality supplements made with natural ingredients can provide a needed complement to your cat’s lifestyle, contributing to regular litter box use and helping to keep him or her in peak physical condition throughout every stage of life. However, not every supplement is created equal. At Wapiti Labs, our herbal supplements make use of traditional Eastern Holistic Formulas and ingredients like elk velvet antler.

Try our Vital supplement made with Elk Velvet Antler to support liver, kidneys and immune system, and our G.I. Tract supplement made with natural herbs to help maintain your cat’s gut health and further encourage proper litter box usage. And don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about which supplement would be the ideal addition to your furry friend’s routine.

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