Most cats have
impeccable toilet habits, and would never think of using any place
in the house other than the litter box. House training a kitten or
cat is usually as simple as showing the new kitty the litter box.
In most cases, if you bring the new cat to the litter box and place
it in it, the cat will use the box, thereby marking it as a place
to return for future use. At some time during their lives, many cats
will experience problems with the litter box. In the majority of cases,
these problems are related to a medical condition or to stress. The
first step for the owner is to find out if the problem is medical.
A urinary infection
can lead a cat to use an area other than the litter box. Mineral granules,
commonly called sand, can form in the bladder and cause a blockage,
making urination difficult or impossible. This condition is most often
found in male cats, and is very serious. If not treated quickly, it
can lead to serious illness or even death. Many times a cat will attempt
to urinate in an inappropriate place, right in front of you, straining
but producing only a few drops, sometimes containing blood. Most people
feel that this is the cats way of telling you that it has a problem
and needs to see the vet right away.
If the cat checks
out OK at the vet, it is time to look for stress as a factor. What
could be upsetting the cat enough to make it change its ways? Is the
box clean? Cats hate dirty litter boxes, and often refuse to use them.
The box should be scooped often, preferably twice a day. When the
box starts to smell, the litter should be disposed of, and the box
washed and filled with fresh litter. If you have changed brands of
litter recently, that may be the problem. Cats can develop a strong
preference for one type of litter, and resent change. Switch back
to the old litter and see if that helps.
Is the box in
an out of the way place? Some cats like their privacy and donít want
to be on public display when using the box. A privacy screen or even
a covered litter box may help. If there is more than one cat in the
home, one of them may not like sharing the litter box. A second box
in another room may solve the problem.
Have there been
any changes with the people in the home? Are you working longer or
different hours? Has someone new moved in or someone old moved out?
Changes in routine can upset a cat. Some extra attention, play time,
or just lap time may relax the cat and bring it back to normal. A
cat will sometimes choose a closet or a certain room to use, and it
becomes a habit. Simply closing the door will usually break the habit.
If a bathtub is the chosen area, try leaving an inch of water in the
bottom to make it less appealing.
If a cat has chosen
an area behind a piece of furniture or behind a plant, placing carpet
tape, which is sticky on both sides, on the floor in these areas.
It is unlikely that any cat will venture into an area where its feet
stick to the floor.
A cat that chooses
to use a piece of furniture as a toilet is a bigger problem. A plastic
painters drop cloth placed over the furniture will usually stop the
behavior. Most cats do not like to urinate on a non-porous surface.
It may be necessary
to confine the cat as a way of correcting the problem. A bathroom
works well for this. Leave food, water, some toys and a litter box
in the room with the cat while you are away. This will leave the cat
with few choices other than to use the litter box. By blocking the
automatic nature of habitual incorrect behavior, you can redirect
the cat to the proper way of doing things, in the litter box.