Tips for when your cat or kitten wont use a litter box – Part 3

Although kittens are usually fairly easy to litter train, there may come a time when the kitty, grown up, suddenly decides that the litter box is no longer the place she wants to potty.

As an animal communicator, this is one of the most frequent reasons clients call me in to help. It can be a very stressful situation, and many owners are right on the verge of re-homing the cat by the time they reach out

My approach is to first try to find out why the cat is suddenly not using her box. The first priority is always to make sure there are no causative health problems. I will ask the client if the cat has been checked for urinary infections, which usually means collecting a urine sample for analysis. Collecting urine is as simple as closing kitty into a bathroom overnight, providing water to drink and a clean and empty (no cat litter) litter pan. I also ask if the cat has been checked for arthritic changes. Pain when squatting is a frequent cause of litter box problems.

After these important issues are discussed with the owner, I’ll talk to Kitty herself. Nervousness over the presence of another member of the pet-household is one problem cats commonly show me. Observe your cats and their interactions. Is one cat tormenting another: teasing, lurking around corners to jump out and yell “boo”? Further investigation will often lead to the culprit not being the “pee-er”, but another cat (or, sometimes, dog and once even a young child!) in the family. In those cases, the teasing sibling will be brought into the conversation to see if we can convince him to stop picking on his sister.

Kids. (Sigh.)

Frequently, the problems that began for very legitimate reasons have continued out of habit, even when the original reasons are eliminated. In these cases, I try to get the cat to see things from a human point of view. I explain that humans have an instinctive negative reaction to finding the urine and feces of a predator in places where we cannot easily control the cleanup. This is as nasty a surprise to a human as finding coyote pee in her living room would be to a cat. When put that way, cats often understand their owner’s perspective much more clearly.

Remember, however, that no matter how helpful talking to the cat might be, the underlying problems must be dealt with, the retraining must be consistent, and the owner must do their part to help the cat to remember the agreement. Keeping litter boxes clean is an obvious need, but consider

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