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Some Common Reasons Why Cats Stop Using the Litter Box


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Strong Cleansers for Cleaning Litter Boxes

Strong-smelling household cleansers may leave enough of a strong scent on the plastic box that it drives the cat away. When you clean the box use bleach that is heavily diluted in hot water or you can even use dish soap that is very diluted. When you’re done cleaning you don’t want to have any traces of scent on the plastic. To give you an idea of how sensitive a cat’s nose is, he has 67 million scent receptors compared to the 5 million that humans have.

Litter Scatter Mats

These mats are designed to catch the litter that gets trapped on the cat’s paws as he exits the litter box. Some mats may have a texture that cats find uncomfortable.

Punishing Your Cat

I include this on the list because it’s important to know that a cat may avoid the box because he has been punished for eliminating in other locations. When you punish a cat for peeing or pooping outside of the box, the messages he receives are 1) he should be afraid of you, and 2) peeing and pooping will get him in trouble. Even though you think you’re teaching him that his location choice is what you objected to, the message he got was to avoid peeing and pooping when you’re around. Punishment also means you are assuming the cat is misbehaving and in reality, he isn’t. If a cat isn’t using his litter box it’s because he feels he can’t. Your job is to figure out why. Punishment is inhumane and counter-productive.

Need More Information?

For more specific help when it comes to setting up a litter box or dealing with litter box aversion issues, refer to any of the books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett. Her books have been called the “cat bibles” by veterinarians, behavior experts and cat parents worldwide. You can purchase Pam’s books at bookstores everywhere, through your favorite online book retail site and also here on our website.

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For more information on cat behavior and training, refer to the articles on our website and the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. If you have a question about your cat’s behavior or health, contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a medical diagnosis nor is it a replacement for your cat’s regular veterinary care. This article is for general information purposes only.