My adult cat won't use litter box
A stray kitty came to our house. Then in a couple of weeks we found out that she is pregnant. We let her in and she had her babies in the house. She won't use the litter box-we have put her in it. She just wants to go outside. I need help to know how to teach her to use the litter box.
Thank you, Laura, for taking this kitty in! I'm sure she appreciates it!
This is a common problem when bringing in an outdoor cat. With kittens, litter box training generally occurs in one of two ways. Either kittens learn to use the litter box by immitating their mothers, or they take to it easily when placed in the box after each meal.
An adult cat, on the other hand, especially one who has never used a litter box is another matter. We don't know if your new mother cat was ever litter box trained. If she was, we may be able to get her to fall back into her old ways, but that may not happen as long as she has access to the outdoors.
Your problem is compounded a bit by the fact that she's had kittens. You didn't say how long ago she gave birth, but I'm assuming it's recent.
Cats are creatures of habit, so what you want to do is restrict access so that she has to use the box. Also, make the box as attractive as possible in terms of litter type, box type, location, and cleanliness.
Let's cover that last part first. Normally, the best litter type is a clumping clay litter and the best box is an uncovered box placed away from food and water bowls. The location should have easy escape routes, but also some quiet and privacy.
Clumping clay litter resembles the texture of sandy soil that cats naturally like,
controls odors fairly well, and you can scoop it often to keep the box clean. A covered litter box may feel confining, and may retain odors, which doesn't seem anything like the outdoor bathroom she's used to.
Do not use scented cat litter. Buy unscented litter only.
Sometimes, adding in a bit of soil from outside along with some blades of grass will give the box that "outdoor feel." She may find it more attractive. Some people have had success with using Cat Attract litter as well.
The ASPCA recommends placing a second litter box at the door
so that as she heads outside, she's confronted with a box instead. Once she begins using it consistently, you can, an inch at a time, move it to a better location.
For cats who have never been litter box trained, they also recommend confinement or isolation training, starting with a cattery cage or large dog crate and moving up to a small room after consistent box usage. In some cases, this may be the only method that gets results.
Again, having recently given birth complicates things, and mother cats often like to move their kittens to different locations as well.
To reduce her stress levels, Rescue Remedy or Feliway may help, as well as lots of praise and attention and some play time if she's up for it.
She may be too busy mothering and it may take a while for all these changes to sink in. When the kittens have started eating solid food and are ready to use the litter box (after four weeks or so usually), place them in the litter box shortly after each meal. If they take to it easily, their mother may just immitate them.
I hope that helps some and please let us know how it goes.
Anyone else have any suggestions? Disagree with anything I've suggested? Please comment away...