3 min.

My cat doesn't go in his litter box; what should I do?

Every year, thousands of cats are abandoned because of a lack of litter hygiene. There are various factors that could explain why your cat refuses to go in the litter box, and the problem can often be solved very easily. The most likely reasons are the scent (the litter box is very dirty or has a very strong or unpleasant odour) or simply the fact that you’re using a new litter which your cat is not used to. Also, a non-neutered male might tend to secure its territory by urinating everywhere.

No matter what, this is a serious situation that needs to be fixed right away! It could just be a whim but it might also be a serious physical problem. Ask your veterinarian; he/she should be able to help you. Before calling your vet, however, just check for a few things that will help him/her with a diagnosis:

Is the litter box clean?

Many cats refuse to do their business in a litter box that is already dirty. We recommend a daily cleaning but some picky cats will require twice a day.

Does the box smell?

If the urine is starting to eat into the plastic, maybe it is time to invest in a new box… To prevent urine from touching the bottom of the box, make sure that the litter is around 7.5 cm (3 inches) deep. High-quality clumping litter will better control odors and agglomerates will remain on the surface.

Many cats… many boxes?

Experts agree: the number of litter boxes in your home should be one more than the number of cats, and they should be placed in different rooms, especially if you own multiple cats. It’s an environment sharing issue. This will not only prevent the problem of inappropriate urination and defecation, but also help to reduce the stress and tension that occurs when cats live together. In addition, the length of the litter box should be one and a half times the length of your cat, while the width should be equivalent to the cat’s length.

Is there a newcomer in the house?

The arrival of a cat, dog, or child can cause problems to the cat because it changes his routine, he has to share his environment, share litter boxes and it leads to stress. Introduce the newcomer gradually so your cat get used to his new roommate.

Did you move? Are you renovating your home?

Moving is a big source of stress for any pet, including cats. This could result in some unexpected reactions until they are fully comfortable in the new place. Renovations are also very stressful…

Were you gone for a few days?

Your absence may cause the cat stress or may break his routine. It could also be that the litter is too full. While you're away, ask a relative to spend time daily with your cat: play with him, feed him, pet him, and clean his litter box.

Does the urine look or smell different?

For any sudden change in your cat's hygiene habits, please contact your vet immediately. This could be a serious problem and require medical care. Cats are sensitive to urinary tract infections and are often experts at masking their pain.