Cat Not Using Its Litter Box? Tips for Solving Litter Box Aversion

We can all imagine (or already know) how difficult and stressful it can be when a cat is avoiding using the litter box. Thankfully there are many ways cat parents can actively problem solve the issue.

The following excerpt on resolving litter box avoidance is from an article written by Jen Hamilton. Jen is a passionate and knowledgeable animal welfare advocate and who is a pet industry veteran working with Pet Food Experts. She is passionate about nutrition and loves supporting a thriving community of independent pet retailers. She lives in Doylestown, PA with her fiancé Joe and her two cats - Mister Charlie Bitters and Lorde Monkey Chunk (aka Charlie and Monkey).

Jen’s article highlights how important it is to be informed about litter care choices. These choices can be essential to providing a comfortable and safe litter care scenario for cats, as well as a stress-free home.

Litter boxes are a great indication of your cat’s health. The size and frequency of urination and the smell and color of feces can tell you a lot about the health of your pet. Keeping an eye on your litter box can clue you into your cat’s gut health, level of hydration (or level of dehydration) and even show early signs of urinary tract issues. All too often, cats stop using their litter boxes to the confusion and dismay of their human counterparts. They could be urinating in the sink or tub, defecating in the bed sheets, or going to the bathroom anywhere but the litter box.

Litter box aversion is a common problem among cats that often leads to them spending an extended amount of time in a shelter or worse being euthanized. Every year approximately 3.2 million cats enter shelters in the United States. This means about 860,000 cats will be euthanized if they are not adopted.

Over my years in the pet industry and owning cats of my own I have gained a lot of experience with animal wellness. With this being said I am not a vet. It’s important to note that pet parents should always consult their veterinarian before making changes to solve what they think is a behavioral issue. Please consult your veterinarian first to confirm whether this is a medical concern for your animal.

Note: checking with your veterinarian is always a great idea when you have any concerns about your pet. Boxiecat litter is veterinarian recommended for cats who have litter box aversion issues. Boxiecat is proud to provide an option that not only solves one of the leading behavioral issues with cats, but also leaves our furry friends as happy as can be!

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Jen has had many pets in her life and currently co-habitats with Lorde Monkey Chunk (left) is a Maine Coon mix she adopted and Mister Charlie Bitters (right) who followed her fiancée home after being abandoned.

Ask the Right Questions

The best way to solve this issue is to look for the signs. Like I said before litter box aversion is characterized by urinating or defecating outside the litter box or even in a sink or tub. However, if your cat is choosing not to use the litter box it could be a medical issue. Feline Urinary Tract Disease, Diabetes, Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), Renal Issues, Constipation, or any other number of concerns. Always talk to your vet! If it is not caused by an underlying medical issue you need to ask yourself the right questions to identify the cause and find the best solution.

"What kind of litter do you use?"

There is a tremendous difference between cheap litter and affordable high-quality litter like Boxie Cat. Better litter means an easier to maintain box, a happier cat, and less litter box aversion. Cheap high dust-content litter can cause respiratory issues for cats especially when using a hooded litter box. This will create a more stressful litter box experience for your cat.

The Boxie Cat flat top clumping technology shown above really helps improve cleanliness which makes for an overall better litter experience for both pet parents and their cats.

This is not to count out pellet litters, I simply prefer clumping litters in my household. Your cat gets a vote too! My cats prefer clumping litter to other alternatives. Perfumed litter is designed for human comfort, not the cats! These concentrated perfumes can be tough on cat noses which are highly sensitive. Boxie Cat Gently Scented is an exception to this, as it is specifically formulated to be safe and calming to cats.

Note: Boxiecat’s Gently Scented formula is a perfect median for those cat owners who don't want an overpowering scent. All our litter formulas eliminate odors, so our Gently Scented product is not needed to mask odors, rather it’s for folks who prefer a scented product. It was developed by our veterinarian to be safe for cats, while providing a light, fresh scent! 

Jen's Final Thoughts

Being a cat owner can be the best thing ever, but it can also come with its own variety of struggles. Litter box aversion is just one issue a pet parent may face. Creating an overall better litter experience for your cat can help reduce the chances of behavioral litter box aversion. Keep in mind how various environmental factors from the location of the litter box to the type of litter being used can affect a cat's litter experience.

-Jen Hamilton

Read the full article here including these topics: 

  • Where is your cat's litter box located?
  • What type of litter box do you have?
  • How often do you clean your litter box?
  • Have you recently introduced a new litter?
  • What are you feeding your cat?