Cat refuses to use litter box in basement

by Cindee
(Clinton Township, MI)

I have had two rescued brother cats for 16 years. One had thyroid problems and then kidney problems and was ill for a long time.


Their box had always been downstairs. The vet said to put a litter box closer to the sick cat, so we put one in the corner of the living room and closed it off for privacy.

He died about two months ago. When he passed, we removed the litter box from the living room but the brother cat started going everywhere and won't use the litter box in the basement.

We put the box back in the living room and he now uses it. How do I get him to use the box in the basement?

My thoughts: I'm sorry to hear your cat is having problems, and my condolences on the loss of your other cat.

I'm assuming your cat is healthy and this problem is not caused by a medical condition. In other words, the problem is behavioral in nature.

If you read enough of my posts here, you'll hear me talk about how much cats hate change. In fact, the other day I was updating a post for another reader with a cat with problems, and I mentioned the Dumb Friends League.

Their recommendation, and it has been this way for many years, is to move a litter box one inch per day. The reason for that is because you want the least amount of change possible.

If we follow the one-plus-one rule, we would have one litter box for each cat in the house, plus one more. It's also recommended to have a litter box on each level of the house.

When all is well, you can often get away with not doing these things. When things don't go well, it becomes more important to pay attention to these recommendations.

The loss of his brother could cause your cat to house soil. Taking away the living room litter box could also cause this. Having both of these things happen around the same time is extra stressful.

Given his age and what he's been through, it may be necessary to make accommodations.

His litter box problems go away when you put the box back in the living room. This is a pretty clear indication that he prefers that location over the basement. Regardless of past behavior, this is now what makes him comfortable.

In general, I'm not a fan of relegating the box to an out of the way place like the basement. I hear from too many people where this causes problems at some point, even if they've had it that way for years.

If you still want to try to move or drop the litter box in the living room completely, I'd suggest moving it very slowly day-by-day and see how it goes.

I hope that helps and please let us know how it goes.
-Kurt

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Aug 29, 2017
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Cat Litter
by: Kitty Jane

This is a great read. Some cat owners do not realize that their cat is suffering a medical condition why they refuse to use their litter most times!

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