Litterbox issues are a real problem. Your sweet, beautiful cat is wonderful, but pee or poop anywhere outside of the litter box can quickly move from a nuisance to a nightmare. While there can be several reasons why they don’t use or suddenly stop using the litter box, solving this problem quickly is very important.
One of the keys to successful and continuous litter box use is to visualize a cat-friendly setup from the perspective of the individual cat. First, think like your cat. Litter boxes work because they provide a place that matches where cats naturally want to eliminate. If they don’t use the litter box, it is time to consider why that might be. Have you provided at least two litter boxes, or one per cat plus an extra, in different areas? Cats are picky about where they eliminate and will be happiest if their litter box location caters to their preferences. Try a few types of litter and different styles of litter boxes – covered or uncovered, easy to enter or taller sides – to see which your cat uses the most. Some cats are nervous or feel trapped if the placement of the box or the box itself doesn’t feel safe and will avoid using the box. Make sure you are scooping the litter boxes daily so that lack of cleanliness is not a reason for your cat to opt-out of the litter box. A little detective work may help solve the problem.
While several litter box-related factors can be vitally important, sometimes an established cat will stop reliably using its litter box for other reasons. When this happens, the first thing should be to pay very close attention to what is going on. Eliminating outside the litterbox can generally be attributed either to a medical or a behavioral issue. You should contact your veterinarian right away. The veterinarian can diagnose or rule out a medical cause for the problem, suggesting treatment and/or a litter box set up that accommodates your cat’s medical needs. For example, a cat may have some beginning arthritis that makes getting into and out of their litter box is painful. Your cat may have a urinary tract infection or crystals in their urine that causes pain when they urinate. Any type of illness that causes pain is enough for some cats to associate the litter box with the pain—and for them to avoid using the litter box. Your veterinarian can help diagnose a medical issue and prescribe appropriate treatment.
Behavioral problems may be more complex. Once you have ruled out a medical reason, you need to investigate what is going on in a multi-faceted approach. Consider your cat. Is he or she sometimes using the litterbox, or not at all? Is he or she urinating on soft clothing or the hard tile? Or is it a particular place? You can start by adjusting the litterbox, how it is situated, or perhaps limit their access to the preferred spot. Another important consideration should be to think about any environmental or household changes that have occurred. Any change can cause stress. Have you changed your schedule, new food or litter, added a family member, brought home a new pet, or had to say goodbye to a pet? If there are changes at home that may be causing your cat stress, there are multiple ways you and your veterinarian can work to reduce stress for your cat. This often includes modifying the environment, the use of synthetic pheromones to reduce stress, and sometimes medication.
Sometimes inappropriate urination is marking. Male cats that have not been neutered are more likely to mark their territory, but any cat can mark. Marking is a cat’s way of establishing their territory. Your cat may start marking if you have added a new cat to your family. If there were previous cats in the house that marked, your cat may mark to establish new ownership. Marking can also be triggered by other cats outside and around your home that are not part of your household. If your cat is not already spayed or neutered, that is often the first recommendation to help curb marking behavior.
At Blue Lake Animal Hospital our veterinarians are experienced in diagnosing potential reasons for inappropriate elimination—either medical, behavioral or a combination of both. Please feel free to call and schedule an appointment to discuss your individual cat’s symptoms. It is always best to solve the problem quickly, before any new habits get established.
Prevention is key to supporting your pet’s ongoing health. We devise an individualized strategy to keep your pet healthy and happy.
We perform standard and specialized surgeries to address your pet’s health concerns, including spays, tumor removal, orthopedic surgeries, and more.
Vaccinations are an important part of preventing communicative diseases. Keep your pet up-to-date on their vaccinations right at our office.
Dental health is essential to your pet’s overall wellness. Our dental services cover all of your pet’s oral health needs, from tooth extraction to cleaning.
Year-round heartworm prevention is key to keeping your pet healthy. We provide FDA-approved treatments to prevent infection.
Fleas and ticks aren’t just a nuisance: they pose a serious threat to your pet’s health. Protect your pet with preventative medicine.
Pocket pets have unique health needs. Our team addresses your pet’s health issues and develops a strategy, so they feel like their energetic self.
We provide comprehensive reproductive care for pets, including artificial insemination, neonatal care, fertility exams, and more.
Rely on us when your pet needs urgent care. We know emergencies are stressful, so we treat urgent health concerns with the utmost care.
Managing your pet’s medical needs is easy when you use our online pharmacy. Renew your pet’s prescription and purchase FDA-approved medication right from the comfort of your home. If you have any questions, contact us to speak with a trusted veterinarian.
Everyone is always helpful and nice. Glad we switched veterinarians.
Dr. Heather always takes the best care of our animals. Thank you!
Very friendly team and thoroughly enjoyed our first welcome appointment with our new puppy!
My pet got attacked and needed help right away - Blue Lake fit us in, performed surgery and Dr. Will kept me apprised the whole time. When there were complications, they again fit us in right away and helped. Great vet office.
We live in Lansing and travel to the clinic for all of our dogs. Dr. Heather is so knowledgeable and actually gave us a more precise date on when our dog should have a c-section. If we would have gone off the previous advice from a different vet…
I can't say enough good about Blue Lake. My dog Buster is 15 years old and has some expected health issues, but they are always helpful with my pet and his needs.
This is a very caring place to bring your pet.
We have a reptile that needed some immediate care. The staff was able to get us an appointment within a couple of days. We received very good care for our reptile friend and will definitely use them again for any of our exotic pets.
Very courteous staff.