Cat not using the litter box all the time

by Dominique
(Morrisonville, NY)

I have a 5-year-old cat. He was a rescue that is still skittish from time to time. For the last couple of years, my cat has peed outside of his litter box.


It doesn't happen all the time and we thought we had it under control, but lately we have been finding more and more spots. We are thinking maybe the times we thought we had it under control, it was actually just hidden or we didn't notice.

We moved last year, so he keeps his messes in the basement where his litter box is. He will pee on the most random things, such as a plastic bag that was left on the floor, tools, a pile of saw dust from our renovations, and most recently a pile of stacked sheet rock that we had down there. (We are renovating our basement which is why there is sawdust and sheet rock around.)

I have read up on a few articles, saying to make sure there is nothing medically wrong first before thinking it's behavioral. We are going to take him to the vet, but since this has been going on for years, I do not think it's medical.

I spoke with a colleague, and she suggested changing our litter from clumping to non clumping because sometimes cats do not like when they touch/feel the large clumps of pee, and that it will deter them from using the litter box.

We also contemplated getting one of those electric litter boxes that scoop away once they leave, because I also read an article that some cats might not think their litter is clean
enough even if you stay on top of scooping.

Has anyone come across this problem and had any success?

My thoughts: I'm sorry to hear your cat is having troubles, but I'm glad to hear you're taking him to the vet. I think it's possible that an intermittent urinary tract problem could cause him to pee outside the box.

I also think your ideas about changing the litter or getting an automatic litter box might be revealing.

If you do either one of those things, however, I would suggest adding a new litter box rather than replacing the current one. There are two reasons for this.

First, as I'm fond of saying, cats hate change, and sometimes replacing the litter or the litter box can cause a cat to stop using the box completely. Also, some cats are afraid of automatic litter boxes or refuse to use them for whatever reason.

It's best to change things slowly, and let your cat make the choice, and certainly don't want to have only one litter box that your cat doesn't use.

Second, as I'm also fond of saying, some cats develop a preference for peeing in one box and pooping in another. In fact, if he were my cat, instead of trying non-clumping litter as a first option, I'd probably add a second litter box with the same clumping litter in it. I'd scoop both boxes twice a day, and see what happens.

I would also consider the possibility that his skittishness is at work here, and try Feliway to calm him.

Please let us know what works for you and your kitty.
-Kurt

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