How to prevent common litter box issues

In addition to spending a large majority of their lives sleeping, most of us know cats are also very clean animals, grooming themselves for hours on end. But there is a darker (call it dirtier) side to their lifestyle: litter box problems.

As a frustrated pet owner, you might initially think your cat is simply missing the box due to poor aim but in fact these types of issues are often caused by a variety of factors, including illness or stress. While we appreciate that cats are quick learners when it comes to using a litter box, thanks to their natural instinct to bury their waste, if they develop undesirable elimination problems it can be very difficult to resolve.

Common reasons for untidy litter box manners

Some of the most common causes of poor “toileting” behavior in cats include:

  • When unfixed cats mature, they are naturally inclined to run around the house and mark their territory. Neutering or spaying will make your cat far less prone to marking.
  • A dirty toilet is unattractive to us and the same goes for your cat’s litter box. If the box is full of evidence from past visits, a cat will eliminate outside of the box or worse, on the living room carpet.
  • Cats are fussy as well as curious. Yours might not like the scent of the litter or the hooded box isn’t easy to get through or the litter depth isn’t just right.

How to prevent litter box issues

If your cat has developed unsavory litter box habits, consider the following tips to get things back on track.

Location matters

Place the box in a private area away from lots of foot traffic. Never put a litter box right next to your cat’s food or water, or loud machines. Closets and other tight spaces are also poor location choices.

Choose litter wisely

All of the fancy, scented litter choices out there are gimmicks at best. Use plain, unscented clumping litter and when you find one your cat approves of, stick to that brand.

Keep it clean and accessible

Scoop out solid waste clumps every day, and empty the entire box and wash it clean at least once a month. Use small litter boxes for kittens and then graduate to a larger one as your cat grows. Kittens, as well as older cats, also appreciate boxes with low sides for easy entrance and exit.