Cats and kittens may develop several issues during the course of their lives that might make them refuse to use their litter boxes. In some cases, the issue lies within the box itself. This box related issues may go ignored if not recognized or addressed in time. Box related issues may not be that hard to discover, if you have a keen eye. However, if you run an animal foster care unit or have a home with more than one pet sharing the facilities, it could be a head-scratcher, as to why one of your animals suddenly decides not to use the box.
To assist you with identifying litter box problems, we’ve drawn up a list of fairly common problems. For issues with boxes owing to the health and behavior of the cat, we encourage you to read our other articles on the subject.
Litter material and texture
It’s often seen that feral or wild cats prefer to go in potted plants or freshly hoed flower beds. If left to their own devices, our domestic wild kitties will do the same. But due to years of domestication, our indoor cats need to use litter boxes. Some cats have a preference to litter textures that resemble natural sand and soil. Those breeds of cats still retain their natural instincts when it comes to searching for places to eliminate waste.
They are the mound-builders and the pit-diggers because they love the grainy and gritty feel of the litter box sand beneath their paws. For such kitties, pellet litter, or silica litter may not be the best choice as it doesn’t give them that all-natural feel. On the other hand, very finely ground litter may also not be a wise choice. Mid to coarse litter granule sizes may be well suited for these cats. For cats that are less fastidious about their calls of nature, more varieties of litter can be used and experimented with.
Litter box location
Once a cat is used to going in an assigned place where she feels safe doing her business, she will seek out that location every time she has the urge to expel. Cats do this because they are ensured that their scent will not reach a larger animal that might challenge them for territory. If one day she finds her litter box shifted unceremoniously to a new location, she may protest by leaving you parcels on the spot where her box used to be.
This happens due to many reasons. She may still feel like the spot is meant for eliminating waste, though the litter is gone, or she may not be able to detect the scent of the litter, if the new location is far away (like the basement, for example.)First time cat-parents, would need to educate themselves on cat litter box sensibilities, along with nutrition, health, and behavior 101s, to avoid litter box placements issues as well. Several cat behavior specialists advise cat owners to make this process gradual.
Change in the Litter box itself
As an enthusiastic pet parent, you may want to try out the different kinds of best self cleaning litter boxes available in the market. While this is a great initiative, which means you take interest in the welfare and happiness of your animal, it also means that you need to learn how to make the switch. A common example is introducing your cat to a mechanized litter box from his conventional scooping litter box. If the new litter box is sensor activated, it will make humming and buzzing noises that may alarm a skittish kitty. Scaring your cat away from using the new box is the opposite of what you want to do! Taking baby steps and experimenting with boxes and placement will help kitty and you understand what to expect from each other, when it comes to litter boxes!
Knowing your cat is important in knowing what kind of litter she uses or what textures make her paws happy. Read, research, and reach out to cat experts so that you are well equipped to handle your furry friend, and do not end up stressing her or yourself out.