Litter Box Problem – Detective Work

The thing about litter box issues is that is that no two situations are alike. What works for one cat probably won’t work for another so each scenario requires a new, full blown investigation.

litter box problem
Sweet Rocket!

My friend Laura Bennett, CEO and co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance, was kind enough to share the story of her cat, Rocket, and Rocket’s litter box problem – and solution – with us.

Laura describes the process of figuring out a litter box problem as “detective work,” which it really is!

Rocket had a history of peeing on the floor if the litter box wasn’t scooped as often as she preferred. Laura and her family learned pretty quickly to cater to this particular preference.

So when the family came back from vacation and found Rocket was consistency peeing on the bedspread in the main floor guest bedroom, they knew something else was up!

First, Laura took Rocket to the vet, which is always the first step whenever your cat is exhibiting new litter box issues.

Then, she started her in-home Private Eye work.

First, she says, she looked at where the litter boxes were located and how Rocket was behaving. The litter boxes were in the basement, on the main floor and upstairs. But the only litter box Rocket seemed to be avoiding was on the main floor. Instead she chose to pee in the main floor bedroom.

Next, Laura thought about the relationship of the three cats in her home – Rocket, Rosie and Lily. Rocket was definitely the lowest cat on the totem pole in the Bennett household.

Finally, Laura considered any changes she’d made to the litter box situation recently. It turns out, she had installed a covered litter box on the main floor in recent months. While Rocket didn’t seem to have a problem with the litter box itself, Laura discovered that Rosie sometimes would peek in at Rocket while she was using the box, possibly making Rocket feel trapped. It would only make sense that she’d find an alternative place to go where she didn’t feel intimidated by a “higher ranking” cat. What better place than a conveniently located soft bedspread?

It seemed almost too simple but Laura removed the lid to the box and……lo and behold, Rocket went back to using the box, the guest bedroom regained its pleasant smell and everyone lived happily ever after!

Laura knows she was lucky that the solution was relatively easy. But it’s an important lesson for all of us! Don’t overlook the obvious because it could indeed be just that simple.

Thanks for sharing, Laura!

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  1. Good detective work on Laura’s part. We had a kitty pee on the bed spread a few years ago. Took him to the vet because it wasn’t like him not too use litter box. Turns out he had stones in his bladder. Once they were disolved, and he was put on a special diet of canned food (prescription kind), he did fine and lived to be 19 years old.

  2. I have two female cats and one has stopped using her box (she was not very good at it in the first place). We live in a one-story house, I don’t cover their boxes and I have three boxes in separate locations for them to use. She will urinate and defecate near her favorite box but not in any of the litter boxes. This problem became much worse after her brother died last year.

    I am at a loss. I have tried every type of cat litter that PetSmart sells. My husband is ready to take her to the animal shelter, and I don‘t know how much more of this I can take. I don’t know what else to try.

    • I hope you took her to the vet to rule out anything medical.

      It may be as smiple as re-training her as if she were a kitten all over again. As I said in my original comment, we have an adult cat that has to be retrained about once a year or less.

      I hope you found a solution. It’s rough to get cats (or dogs for that matter) adopted right now. 🙁

  3. I love how much you paid attention to her needs, instead of getting really upset with her and getting rid of her. Glad to know that there are such caring cat people out there, including moi of course.
    thanks for the story

  4. This is a great post!

    It really is an art and a science. We have one difficult cat, who will probably need to be continuously retrained. It took months of training and retraining to get her to use an uncovered box with crystals in it. (That’s what we settled on for her, in other words.) BUT, she will stop using it if it gets too dirty for her liking, so I have to stay on top of keeping at least that box scooped well. Every few months, we have to go through training all over again.

    We have 8 cats, 8 boxes, and limited space, so we can only do so much rearranging to suit Ms. FancyPants (not her name, just her attitude!)

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