Litter Box Behavior Changes
Find out why your cat is having bathroom issues.
If your litterbox-trained cat suddenly changes his or her bathroom habits, you’ll need to consider possible causes—and create a plan of action for getting your cat back to the box.
Changes in the home
Household changes can upset even the most confident, best box-trained cats. If there has been a sudden change in your home—a new baby or pet, the extended absence of a household member—your cat may express stress by refusing to use the litterbox. Even a less lasting change—like using a new brand of litter or hosting a large party—can create a lingering disruption in your cat’s behavior.
A sign of something more
Not using the box may also be a sign of disease, like a urinary tract infection. Your cat may associate the pain with the litterbox and therefore avoid it. Or it could be something that makes it difficult for him or her to get to the box on time, like some kidney, liver or thyroid conditions or more commonly, diarrhea. Straining to urinate or defecate—in the box or out—is another symptom of illness. Monitor your cat for signs of disease and visit the vet if you detect any indications of sickness.
Getting back to the box
Cats prefer a clean bathroom—just like humans. If the litterbox isn’t up to your cat’s standard of clean, he or she may suddenly refuse to use it. Start by offering access to two large, shallow litterboxes filled with your cat's preferred litter. Change the litter frequently and clean the boxes at least once a week.
Give your cat a quiet place for conducting bathroom business. A too-public location may drive your cat out of the box in search of a more secluded locale. Put the litterbox in an area that is away from household traffic to provide privacy and prevent interruption.