After move, cat won't use litter box

by Robyn
(Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

Hello, We recently moved, and now my cat won't use her litter box at all. She is going everywhere else but inside it.

She is fixed. When we moved she wasn't eating and now that she is eating it is just the litter box problem.

She is almost scared to go down stairs but when she is down there she wont come back up. But I know she is going down there when we are not home because she is peeing and pooping in the down stairs living room.

The carpets were shampooed before we moved in. This is only the second home we have ever lived in and we have had her for 5 years now.

I don't no what else to do, my husband wont take much more and I'm afraid if we do not get this under control we will need to have to find her a new home.

I have a 2 year old daughter and can't have her finding poop! She has always had one litter box and been the only cat.

The previous owners did not have a cat but had dogs. But we also have a dog and I know it's not him because he can not go downstairs.

She has always had a problem where if you leave clothes in the laundry room on the floor she would use them instead of her litter box but it is now out of control and I need help!

Thank you.

My Thoughts: I'm sorry to hear that you and your cat are having these troubles, Robyn. I'm glad she's eating, though!

I'm assuming that she's been given a clean bill of health and the not eating and the litter box problem are not symptoms of a disease...

Cats are extremely territorial. When you move a cat to a new home, you effectively rip their world away from them.

I believe it's possible that left over smells from the dogs that used to live there are making things worse than they would have been. In any case, as you can see, moving to a new house can be extremely stressful for your cat.

The best way to introduce a cat to a new home is to start in one room that has been set up with a litter box, food and water, a bed, and favorite toys.

That one room will be your cat's only home for the first few days while she settles in. Let her get used to the new sights, smells and sounds from within the safety of that room.

Then, you can gradually introduce her to the rest of the house.

So, select a (preferably sunny) room, and follow the plan outlined at the ASPCA website in the article titled Moving with Your Pet.

If you find that confining her and getting her slowly acclimated to the new home isn't working as expected, you can add in anti-anxiety measures.

Additional attention and playtime, Feliway, adding Cat Attract litter to the litter, and possibly drug therapy are all options.

I hope that helps and please update us on how she gets along.

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Aug 10, 2017
Blockage? Constipation?
by: Kurt (Admin)


If your cat is not defecating at all, I would recommend consulting with your veterinarian as intestinal blockage is a serious problem. I wish you and your kitty the best.

Aug 10, 2017
Just moved my cat won't poop but is pee in in litter box
by: Anonymous

Please tell me what I can do to help my cat to go to make poopy He's eating and drinking Just not going to bathroom like normal Is he ok???

Sep 28, 2016
Litter Box Move
by: Kurt (Admin)


I'm sorry to hear that your cat is having trouble.

It sounds like an abrupt change on your cat, and he's not reacting well. The litter box is a big deal to your cat, and as I'm fond of saying, cats hate change. It doesn't surprise me that he's not adjusting well to a drastic change of something so important to him as the litter box.

If you read the material on litter box problems put out by Dumb Friends League, they recommend slowly moving a litter box 1 inch at time until it's in the new location. This gives the cat a chance to get used to the move.

I would caution against trying to toilet train a cat. While some cats have learned to use a human toilet on their own, there are many reasons why it is not advisable to do this.

I hope that helps.

Sep 28, 2016
by: Phoebe

My family and I are trying to teach my cat how to use the toilet because my dad keeps on complaining about the smell of the litter box even though I clean it every day. This week we moved the litter box out of the kitchen and into the bathroom. Which, he goes to the bathroom with me anyway. So when I go I take him with me and I show him where the litter box is. But when I'm not at home he doesn't go to the bathroom on his own. I know it will take some time for him to get used to it but it's been three days and he still won't go by himself. What should I do? What can help him?

Apr 15, 2015
by: Jigs

Well, this is a simple case of territorial change. Felines are territorial animals and they do take time to get adapted to the new territories which are new to them and are completely unknown. It’s glad that she is eating the food properly and there aren’t any health issues too.

Jun 26, 2013
The view from the top...
by: Anonymous

I recently adopted in a cat from a family member, making it three cats in our house. We followed all the steps we found online.

We blocked them off for a while, she had her own space, we then introduced them to each other and let her go into the rest of the house.

She would go downstairs to use the litter and eat and even venture upstairs to sleep with us at night, however both cats and her were still hissing at each other all the time.

She tended to stay in higher places like in some open shelving in the bathroom. Now it seems that she never comes down.

I suspected that she wasn't coming down to eat, so I probably made the mistake of giving her food and water on the shelves... and so now you can guess that she isn't coming down to use the litter box either.

I know that she is intimated by the other cats still even though I feel we were very careful and we have had her for almost three months.

She is about 10 years old and I just am feeling awful and don't know what to do now. I want her tribe a happy kitty and I know she wants our attention but she just won't come down!

Editor's note: I'm sorry to hear that your kitties are having problems. I'll note that some cats just can't get along, and need separate areas of the house to live in.

That being said, when there's too much hissing and territorial shuffling, it can mean that the introduction was too quick.

What I would do in this case is do a separation/re-introduction, and I'd get Feliway and possibly, Rescue Remedy.

Just pretend they've never met and start over. Let us know how it goes.

Feb 11, 2013
Puppy crate training option works for my kitty
by: Anonymous

One of my 3 cats is very sensitive. Unfortunately, I have had to move more than a few times in the past few years.

Every time we move, whether to another town, or down the road, the stress throws him into utter turmoil and he insists on urinating (and most recently, defecating) just outside the litter box.

To acclimate him to his new environments and reacclimate him to using the litter box appropriately, I "crate train" him as one would a new puppy. (I had to do this with him as a 4-6 wk old foster, so he has had this behavioral issue from the beginning.)

With just enough room to stretch, room for food and water dishes, a towel or blanket, and a small plastic litter container, slightly larger than a shoebox. These containers are cheap & easily found at most "dollar stores".

The crate I use is larger than a carry crate for cats (way too small). Sometimes it takes only a couple of weeks, but has taken up to 1-2 months of constant crating. (Of course, take him/her out often and give lots of cuddles and supervised playtime. Then, back in the crate.

It sounds cruel to some people, but that is how puppies are trained effectively. As they say, "Don't sh** where you eat". I keep the crate in a common area so he does not feel left out of the action.

I also recommend placing a plastic mat (like the ones for rolling office chairs) under the regular litter box, in case there is an accident when attempting to reintroduce your cat to the "big boy box". Much easier clean up, in case you have carpeted flooring.

I use scoopable litter and scoop as often as possible, if not every time. Cats are fastidious creatures and will often choose the floor over a dirty box.

Of course, please consult your veterinarian first, to rule out any crystal/ urinary blockage or other possible health problems. PS: Nature's Miracle lives up to it's name for removing pet stains and odors. Hope this helps. Be patient and good luck!

Editor's note: Thanks so much for sharing and thanks for being so dedicated to your kitty! Many people wouldn't go beyond the "easy" things and go to this extent to help their cat.

Nov 01, 2011
Kitty not using litter
by: Anonymous

I agree with the writer... put the cat in a separate room first.. the cat is picking up other dog smells and it is scaring him... the move caused tension on top of everything else... make sure there is no diarrhea or worms... or bladder infection...

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