Cat uses pee strips instead of litter box

by Brigitte Boston
(Flower Mound, Texas)

We adopted Cali when she was 4 months old from a rescue center. We brought her home to a 2-year-old and an 8-year-old. All have been spayed and are exclusively indoor cats. We had two boxes the first three years with no problems.

I have always put pee-pee strips under the cat boxes to stop litter from going all over the house. Then she decided out of the blue to go on the pee strips.

We put her in the front bathroom overnight and would not let her come out until all business was done. I made a big deal after the fact and gave her treats.

She started using the cat box in the bathroom without complaint. The other two cats shared the box, too. It lasted for about two months and we started all over again.

Now I have to explain, she's still not using the litter box. She uses the pee strip outside of the box. If there's no pee strip there, she uses the plain old floor.

I removed the cat box, as the other two were using the box. It was OK for three to four days and started all over again.

Now I put her in the bathroom overnight with food and water. She is OK for three to four days, and back we go again. The bathroom has pee strips only, and she seems to be OK with it.

A little information about Kali. The first four months after we brought her home, she was lovable to everybody. This slowly decreased as time went on.

She always is were I am, and keeps me company when I am on the bed and working on projects. I have taken her to a just cat veterinarian who examined her with no problem and suggested all kinds of different things, with short term success.

I will not give up on her, but my Husband is another story. I will put her in the bathroom tonight and all will be OK for a while.

I am open to just about any suggestion and treatment from anyone to try, except take her back to the rescue.
Her age will be totally against her. If anyone has any other ideas, please share them with me.

Sincerely, Brigitte Boston

My thoughts: I'm sorry to hear your cat is having problems. If your cat became less lovable to everyone, but now seems to always want to be with you, she may be experiencing some anxiety. Anxiety can lead to litter box problems.

I'm wondering if anything changed in her life or your household that has caused her anxiety. It may be hard to pin down, but you might want to think it through.

As always, adding another litter box is never a bad idea, and it may help.

Litter box retraining using isolation can help cats get back on track with the litter box, but usually, you want to isolate the cat for more than one or two nights. You want to see consistent litter box usage for at least several days or longer while your cat is in isolation before returning things to normal.

You mentioned moving/removing the litter box from a location, so I want to point out for anyone reading this that moving the litter box can be traumatic for any cat and may cause a cat to stop using the box. It's best to leave the old box in place and add a new box.

We've covered this ground before, but it can't be stressed enough. Moving litter boxes causes stress, and stress leads to litter box problems.

Beyond retraining using isolation, giving her plenty of attention and exercise, and all the other things you'd do to keep her happy and healthy, there are a few more things you can do.

You can consult with a cat behaviorist. This would be an expert who comes into your home to evaluate her and her situation so they can make specific recommendations.

Another option is drug therapy. As I've mentioned many times, some of our readers have had success when their vets prescribed Prozac or Xanax for their cats. Others have had success using pheromone products like Feliway, or herbal products like Jackson Galaxy Solutions or Rescue Remedy.

Please let us know how she progresses.

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