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Getting Your Cat Back to the Litterbox catipedia_behavior.png

Correcting your cat’s bad box behavior.

A cat that won’t use the litterbox is the most frequent concern cat owners discuss with veterinarians—and cats that aren’t litter-trained have a hard time finding a home. But with patience, diligence and time, this behavior can often be corrected.

Punishing a cat for failing to use the litterbox is only likely to worsen the problem, since emotional triggers and stress are likely what caused them to stop using the litterbox in the first place. But a few adjustments around the home will correct most instances of house soiling.

First, make sure an underlying health issue is not the cause of the litterbox issue. A simple examination and urinalysis can eliminate feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) as the cause. If your cat’s water consumption has increased, ask your vet to check for kidney or bladder ailments. Intestinal parasites can cause a cat to lose control of his or her bowels—these can be treated with de-worming medications. If left untreated, any of these issues can cause your cat to associate pain and discomfort with the litterbox—and will make them even less likely to use it appropriately.

Marking or spraying is not the same as failing to use the litterbox. Marking can be done by both males and females and is almost always on a vertical surface. The cat will back up to a wall or a piece of furniture with its tail twitching and straight up. The cat will spray a small amount of urine and walk away.

If your cat has been given a clean bill of health and is not marking or spraying, try taking these next steps: Change the litter daily and clean the box twice weekly—cats are fastidious groomers and may not use a litterbox that doesn’t meet their cleanliness standards. You can try multiple litterboxes, too. And keep the litterbox area separate from your cat’s eating area—most cats will not tolerate having their bathroom and dining room in a shared space.

If you’ve recently changed the type of litter you use, try switching back to what you were using before. If you haven’t changed types for a while, it might be time for change. Most cats will use plain, unscented, clumping-type litter.

Cats prefer privacy when in the litterbox, but they also want to keep a look out for surprises. If another animal in the house has access to the cat in the litterbox, the cat will find refuge elsewhere. Some cats prefer covered pans facing into the room so they can keep watch for intruders; other cats will simply not use a covered pan. Experiment with different styles to see what works for your cat. Make changes slowly over several days—not suddenly—to give your cat a chance to decide what he or she prefers. Again, try providing several litterboxes at the same time.

Anywhere your cat has soiled in the home should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to prevent your cat from associating that area with elimination. Don’t use an ammonia-based cleaner—cat urine is high in ammonia and the familiar scent will reinforce the association. You can also try covering the area with foil—cats don’t like how it feels on their paws and will avoid it.

For cats that are persistent in avoiding the litterbox, there are medications that can help—discuss the options with your veterinarian.

TOPICS: BEHAVIOR LITTER TRAINING

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FAQs

Below you'll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our company, our products and caring for your cats. If you have a question that isn't addressed here, please feel free to contact us.

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A: Our top priority is the quality of the food that nourishes not only your pets, but the pets we share our lives with, too. So from source to bowl, the quality of our food is assured by taking the following steps:

Ingredient Sourcing

  • Purina ingredient sourcing and processing meet or exceed FDA, USDA or AAFCO standards for pet food. And every supplier of ingredients for Purina products must meet our stringent standards for ingredient specifications, product safety, sanitation and manufacturing practices.
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Q: Where is your food manufactured?

A: 99% of all Purina-branded pet food products sold in the U.S. are made in Purina-owned U.S. manufacturing facilities. Purina's sophisticated tracking system ensures important measures of control: All raw ingredients are tracked from time of receipt at our plants, through their inclusion in finished products, and on to retailers.

Q: I am unable to find a particular product in my area. Can you help me locate it?

A: Yes, we can help. Although distribution of our Purina Cat Chow products is national, not all stores carry all sizes and varieties. Contact our Customer Service department via our Contact Us page or call us at 1­-888­-228­-2469.

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Q: Where can I find articles and information about my cat?

A: We believe there's always more to learn and to share and that discovery should be fun. It's one more way we're helping you and your cat share a better life together. Visit Catipedia for articles and information and... a little bit of fun.

Q: Where can I find articles and information about my cat?

A: We strongly recommend talking to your veterinarian for immediate answers to urgent situations. While CatChow.com is an excellent resource of information provided by cat care experts, your veterinarian can provide the best care for your individual cat..

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