Cat ingested a toxin, won't use the litter box

by Dana
(Ontario, Canada)

Our cat, Molly is two and a half, she is the most lovable happy cat I have ever had (and I've had cats my whole life). The vet says she ingested a toxin - she's getting better now but won't use the litter box.

It's been about 4 weeks now since we brought her home from the vet and she is slowly getting better every day. She was so weak we fed her watered down wet food for two weeks then she began to lap it on her own. Just yesterday she's started eating her dry food on her own.

She was very weak and lethargic with minimal strength in her legs. She has started doing stairs now but is extremely awkward.

But she won't use her litter box!

She is only going in the basement (where her little box is) which is unfinished and never in our everyday living spaces.

We've bought a new litter box that has shorter sides and new litter to see if she liked that better - she did not. When she does poop we've been putting it in the box for her to see.

We are at a loss and don't want to lose our beloved kitty.

Please help.

My Thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear about Molly's problems, but I'm glad she's getting better. If she's just getting to the point where she's regaining her strength, it may be a while before she's able to navigate the house properly and use the litter box. It may take some time.

A lower litter box that is easier to access is probably a good idea, but I would use the same litter that she's used to.

One thing that you can try is using a cardboard box. Cut the cardboard box low for ease of access and place her regular litter in there. If that doesn't help, you can perhaps try cutting the box even lower and see if anything changes.

Also, I believe that if a lower litter box seems like a good idea, then she's probably not even ready to navigate stairs yet.

Are you saying that she's having to walk all the way down the stairs into the basement and then get into the litter box? If that's the case, she may be exhausted by the time she gets down there and never makes it to the box.

In general, what I would suggest when caring for a cat during or after an illness or post-surgery, is to restrict the environment to a relatively small recovery area.

It's easier to monitor behavior, food and water intake, and litter box usage that way. It's also safer for your cat.

So I would set up a room that she can recover in and get her back on track with the box in there. As she gets better you can give her access to more of the house.

If necessary, you can use a large cage to retrain her, but my concern would be with increasing her stress level right now by restricting her too much. A room is one thing, a cage is something else.

To reduce her stress level, you can try Feliway diffusers, and to increase her attraction to the box, you can try adding Cat Attract to her regular litter.

I hope that gives you some ideas. Please let us know how she does.

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