Litter Box Hit or Miss

What do you do when your cat’s litter box issues are hit or miss?

Today our Litterbox Mentor, Marilyn Krieger answers a question from a reader who’s at the end of her rope.

Marilyn is a certified Cat Behavior Consultant and owner of The Cat Coach, LLC® solves cat behavior problems through on-site and phone consultations.

Marilyn’s award-winning book, Naughty No More! focuses on changing unwanted cat behaviors through clicker training, environmental management and other positive reinforcement based methods.

HLB reader Nancy writes:

I wanted to ask about my cat, Hava. Can a cat ever be re-trained to use the cat box, when it has been hit or miss for a while? I’ve already changed two floors. I am at my wit’s end on what to do. I have three cats and she is the most vocal of them all. I just don’t know what she is trying to tell me. Can anyone help?

Here’s what Marilyn has to say:

Hava might be trying to tell you she doesn’t feel well, or she isn’t thrilled with the litter box set up. She first needs to be examined by her veterinarian to rule out any possible medical conditions that could be causing her periodic litter box aversion. Samples of medical problems that can cause litter box avoidance include: chronic renal failure, thyroid conditions, diabetes and urinary tract infections. Only after your veterinarian has ruled out any possible medical causes, consider the problem behavioral in nature.

Hava’s litter box aversions could be triggered by a number of factors, including inadequate litter box management, not enough litter boxes, their locations and the type of boxes that are available for the cats to use. It is important to have enough litter boxes available for all of your cats. Ideally, there should be four boxes, located throughout your house, on each level. The litter boxes should be uncovered so that Hava doesn’t feel she can be trapped or ambushed by one of the other resident cats. The boxes need to be immaculately clean. Scoop them at least once a day, regularly dump the litter, wash the boxes with hot water and then refill with fresh litter.

Additionally, thoroughly clean the targeted areas with a really good enzyme cleaner. I recommend Anti Icky Poo.

Thanks, Marilyn. Nancy, we hope this helps!