What to do when cats reject the litter box - Dr. Marty Becker

What to do when cats reject the litter box

Wednesday, Jan 6th, 2016 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Small kitten in blue plastic litter cat isolated on white

My daughter, Mikkel Becker, and I teamed up to tackle one of the most frustrating aspects of cat ownership: litter box problems.

Q: One or both of our otherwise healthy cats has been occasionally pooping on the sofas in our den and sun porch. How do we stop them?

A: Your cats may seem healthy, but if you haven’t taken them to the veterinarian to rule out underlying health problems, such as impacted anal glands or irritable bowel disease, that should be your first step.

If they get the all-clear, the next step is to make sure your litter box maintenance is up to par. Scoop at least once daily, and clean the box and change the litter every week or two.

Do you have enough litter boxes? The “rule of paw” is one litter box per cat, plus one extra. In a perfect world, each litter box is in a separate place, because to a cat, a row of litter boxes just equals one giant litter box. It may be that one cat is guarding the litter box area so the other can’t use it, so he uses the sofa instead.

Your cat may dislike the texture or smell of the litter, or the placement of the litter box. Try switching to an unscented litter or a different type. If possible, move the litter box to a quieter or more secluded area.

Note the circumstances surrounding the poop on the sofa. Does it occur when a family member is traveling or working long hours, when there are visitors in the home or during some other unusual event? Cats don’t always like change, and this may be their commentary on your work schedule or the presence of guests. Is the sofa near a door or window where outdoor cats may be marking? If you can connect the poop to a stressful event, you may be able to take steps to relieve your cat’s anxiety. — Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker

All this and more in last week’s Pet Connection!