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4 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Not Using Their Litter Box

If you notice your cat not using their litter box, you are not alone. And before you start thinking your pet is trying to ruin your life, consider why they are behaving this way. Litter box issues are common and could range from your cat disliking the texture of their litter to something more serious.

To give you more insight, we’re sharing common litter box behaviors most pet parents experience. They fall under problems with the box size, location, cleanliness, and multiple cats sharing one box. After learning these behaviors you’ll have the information you need to know where to put a litter box, how to clean it, and how to get your cat to use it.

1. Problems with Litter Box Size

If your cat feels cramped and cannot maneuver with ease, they’ll associate negative feelings with their litter box. To avoid this and find a proper size, select a box that is much larger than your cat. They should have enough room to step inside, turn around, scratch, and squat without touching the sides of the box.

If you have a kitten or senior cat, you will need to consider the height of the walls as well. You can check out our guide for more tips to help you choose an appropriate litter box size for your pet.

2. Bad Litter Box Location

Your cat prefers privacy when they use their litter box, so avoid placing it in noisy or high-traffic areas of your home. Once you find a quiet place, think about the surrounding area. Cats don’t like to eat where they “go,” so never place food and water bowls next to or anywhere near your feline’s litter box.

As your cat ages, you may need to reconsider where you put the litter box. It might seem like they stop using their box for no reason but the pain from arthritis and joint issues could be what’s keeping them from getting to it. To help, don’t place their box in the upper or lower levels of the home like a basement. Instead, choose a location that provides a clear and easy path. Finding a good place is also a benefit for you since it makes cleaning less burdensome.

3. Litter Box Isn't Cleaned Often

Because cats are clean by way of habit, they expect you to keep their litter boxes in pristine condition. If they feel their sacred place is dirty or has lingering odors, they will find a new place to relieve themselves. To help prevent unwanted smells, select a cleaning brand with ingredients such as carbon or plant extracts that get rid of odors from urine and fecal matter.

When it comes to how to clean a litter box, you should plan to scoop your cat’s box once a day or use an automatic litter box for more frequent scooping. Disinfect the box twice a month and replenish with fresh litter that isn’t more than three to four inches high. Over time, you will need to replace your cat’s litter box. Be sure to make the switch before your cat’s strong olfactory senses kick in and they notice the odors absorbed by the plastic material.

4. They Don't Like Sharing

Figuring out the litter box situation for multiple cats is tricky. With felines being territorial and sticklers for privacy, they may stop using their litter box if they feel it is never available. The general rule is one litter box per cat, plus an extra box, placed in different locations throughout the house. You can also consider open litter pans so your cat can see when another cat is approaching and plan their escape.

Your cat’s litter box plays a big role in their life. It can also be a useful tool that helps you recognize sudden changes in their health or well-being. If you still notice your cat not using their litter box after making changes to the size, location, cleaning routine, or sharing methods, you may need to seek professional help.

Outside of behavioral issues, there could be a medical condition affecting your cat. It’s best to consult a veterinarian to identify any serious issues before they get out of hand.