If you have a cat (or perhaps even more than one) then your worst nightmare is probably the same as mine; inappropriate elimination, that is to say elimination that takes place outside of the litter tray, can really be a nightmare to deal with. Here’s a quick and comprehensive guide to coping with a cat who does this and figuring out the cause and possible fix.
If you have multiple cats and one begins using the floor as a potty, there is a very simple check you should perform before you worry about anything else. Are your cats sharing litter trays? Put down extra litter trays; the rule of thumb for multi-cat households is the number of cats plus one. So if you have three cats, you should have four trays.
Even if your cats have never had a problem sharing fewer litter trays in the past, this would be your first step as the social dynamic may have changed, causing it to become an issue when it never was one before. Ensure also that the trays are frequently cleaned. If you’re having any issues with your cats not getting along, try to address that as it can also be the cause of toileting issues.
If these fixes don’t address your issue then it’s time for the veterinarian. It’s tempting to think that a cat which acts fine otherwise will definitely be okay, but this is a fallacy; as cats are predators they are given to incredible stoicism and will exhibit few, or no signs of pain. In fact, a very common ailment causing inappropriate elimination is a urinary tract infection.
These can cause huge issues if left untreated, so getting your cat vet-checked is immensely important if they are showing this symptom – even if it is the only one you can see. The idea behind it all is that your cat comes to associate the litter tray with pain as he or she is experiencing painful urination.
Their animal logic leads them to tie this to the place where the pain occurs and the logical next step is to eliminate elsewhere. You can address this issue quite easily, so taking your cat to the vet can often be a quick fix. Don’t be fooled if your cat has chosen to defecate elsewhere as well as urinating outside of the box – just take him or her out and let the vet check they’re still completely healthy. Should you be given a clean bill of health and remain concerned, don’t hesitate to take him or her back.
Finally, if it seems your cat is doing it for none of these reasons, consider other reasons. Is your cat very young? People are often tempted to take kittens home from their mother before they should be.
Ideally your kitten should be 12 weeks old, but anything after 8 weeks is reasonable. However, a kitten that is much younger will have inappropriate socialisation and you may find that litter box habits aren’t really cemented into place yet.
Even if your kitten is old enough, you need to make sure he or she can find his or her way back to the litter tray. Try locking him or her in a single room where the litter tray is easy to find for a little while until the litter box habits become more entrenched. If this isn’t the problem either, look in your local pet shop for Cat Attract drops, which you drip into the litter tray and contain pheromones telling your cat this is the appropriate place to eliminate. These can be surprisingly effective and after a while, most cat owners can begin to phase them out.
When your cat stops using the litter tray, it can really make life difficult and cast a bit of a pall over cat ownership. With these tips and tricks you can address your cat’s inappropriate elimination and get back to a happy life together.