Cat suddenly won't use litter box

by Sue
(cincinnati)

have 2 males and 1 female, males are 6 and 4 years old

female will be 2 in May, (got her when she was 6 wks. old) female has stopped using the litter box about 3
mos. ago..... she has never ever had a problem with her sharing the box with the males,
she used the litter box from the get go the day we
got her! no change in the household, box is kept clean daily, haven't switched litters and there is no medical problem....is there a way we can retrain her FAST???....getting very desperate to find a solution....we are in the process of some remodeling and want to correct the problem before the new carpet and hardwood are installed.... she is a very sweet little cat BUT we can't keep going on like this and do not want to find a mess on the soon to be new carpet or wood, the urine
does a number on both! Need a quick fix to the problem or may have no choice but to give her up!

My Thoughts:

Unfortunately, cats can change preference for location and/or texture at any time and these problems are difficult. Retraining can take time. Also, if you're having remodeling done, that can be an added stress factor which may make it hard to retrain as well.

The longer these problems go on, the harder they are to deal with, and 3 months is a long time to not use the box.

The fastest litter box retraining method is probably to confine the cat to one room.

That's really the only way you can control the environment. I hate to recommend that people confine their cats, but in extreme cases, this may be the only way.

Nancy Wigal has extensive experience with her cat having urination related litter box problems and she recommends confinement.

Here's an article on litter box problems in multi-cat homes.

Some more general thoughts:

If your cat is not using the box, then there is something wrong... if it's not medical, then there's a good chance that your cat doesn't like something about the situation with the box. Also, there are stresses that your cat may encounter that you don't know about, and that may be the cause.

The same concepts and rules apply as in my response here to cats urinating all over the house so you might want to give that a read.

If you don't want to go with confinement then:

1. Use aluminum foil or double sided tape, barriers, and citrus smells to keep her away from her favorite places to go.

2. Thoroughly clean the areas she goes in so she won't be attracted back there.

3. Add another box.

If you have 3 cats, then that means that you should have 4 litter boxes. If you have fewer than 4 and things are going smoothly, that's one thing. But, if one or more of the cats stops using the box, then part of the resolution process should be to add at least on more litter box. This box should be placed in another part of the house.

If she seems to have a favorite spot to go in, then thoroughly clean that area and get rid of all traces of the smell with an enzymatic cleaner or AtmosKlear. This is so she won't be tempted by the smell to go on the floor. Place the new box right there in that spot and see what happens.

The general idea is to make the litter box more attractive and the other areas less attractive. If that doesn't work, then confinement may be the way to go. You may need to bring in professional help in the form of a pet psychologist. Get one who specializes in cats.

I hope that helps and I wish you much luck!

-Kurt

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