Litter Box Woes

Cat’s having accidents outside of the box can be very stressful for owners. How can you tell what’s causing it, and how can you help?

If you have multiple cats, the general rule of thumb for number of litter boxes in your home is one per cat plus one. Some cats will not use a box if another cat has already used it. Adding another box, whether you have one cat or many cats, is a good first step in trying to fix the issue.

Cats can be very particular about their litter boxes. Most cats prefer unscented clumping litter. Cats may dislike liners in the box or litter mats in front of the box. Cats also usually dislike covered litter boxes. Boxes should be placed somewhere private, but easily accessible, away from the food and water bowls. It is very important to scoop the litter box once a day, and sanitize the box and change out the litter once a week. If a cat feels their box is too dirty, they may go outside of it.

Cats are very sensitive to change. Going outside of the box can result from a new family member, new furniture in the house, moving, or even the owners going on a trip and the cat being alone for a few days. If you can’t figure out what the cause of your cats stress is, bringing them in for an exam by the doctor is always a good idea. Over grooming resulting in fur loss is another common symptom of a stressed out cat.

An infection or other medical problem could also be the cause of the accidents. Bringing your cat in for an exam, and having the urine and stool checked for anything unusual is the best way to rule out any medical problem. Once a medical issue has been ruled out, your vet can help you determine what else could be causing the issue and what you can try to fix it.

If you notice you cat going in and out of the litter box more than normal, blood in the stool or urine, a change in the size of urine clumps (smaller or larger), or vocalizing while in the box, you should consult with your veterinarian right away. These are signs of a possible underlying medical condition.

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