Why Your Cat Have Stopped Using the Litter Box

Obedient Devon Rex Cat Sitting in Litter Box in Living Room

An owner’s worst nightmare is coming home to find out that their cat stopped using the litter box.

And it’s not just because of their cat’s poor sense of judgment when it comes to bathroom habits.

The reasons behind why your cat stopped using the litter box can be myriad and sometimes difficult to diagnose.

This means that you need to know how to spot some of the most common culprits before you contact your veterinarian.

Here are eight of the most common reasons why your cat may have stopped using his or her litter box, along with what you can do about it.


The box is dirty

Cats are clean animals, so if they don’t like how their litter box smells, they will look for a different place to do their business.

A simple solution is to scoop out your cat’s litter daily and keep an eye on it; you may be surprised at what you find lurking in there!

It could also mean that your cat is trying to tell you that he or she needs a bigger or new litter box.

If you have multiple cats, make sure they each have their own private spot.


Another cat has taken over their territory

Sometimes a new addition to your household will cause cats to rethink their potty habits.

If you get a new cat or if one of your current kitties decides they like your litter box better than theirs.

They may decide it’s not worth using their litter box anymore.

This can be especially true for senior cats who feel threatened by another animal entering their territory.

Try re-introducing them to each other slowly and giving them time to adjust and feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

Before getting upset about them eliminating outside of their litter box.

It’s important to remember that cats are very territorial animals and may feel uncomfortable sharing space with another cat.

Also, make sure there is enough room for both of them to use their litter boxes comfortably.

Make sure there are enough litter boxes.

Cats are very clean animals, so it’s important that they have enough space in which to do their business without feeling crowded or too stressed out while doing so.


They can’t find the box

Cats have incredible spatial memory, but they’re also creatures of habit.

If you’ve moved your litter box, it may take a while for your kitty to find it.

Try adding odor attractants like cornstarch to make it easier for them to sniff out.

Or get in touch with your vet if you think he might have lost his sense of smell.

They don’t like their litter.

Some cats just don’t like certain litter—they can be too dusty or too sandy or too perfumed.

To figure out what kind of litter is best for your cat, try using different kinds and see which one she prefers.


The location of the box isn’t convenient for them

Cats can be picky about where they go to do their business.

If it’s not in a place that feels right, they’ll search for a different spot.

A cat may become reluctant to use a litter box if it’s not on an appropriate surface or near their bed, favorite chair, or feeding station.

Consider moving your cat’s litter box if it’s inconvenient for them; your cat will feel more comfortable once they’re back in familiar territory and return to using it.

The type of litter isn’t ideal.

Different cats have different preferences when it comes to what kind of litter they like best.

Some prefer fine sand-like material while others enjoy soft clumping clay.

Most cats also prefer unscented litters as scented varieties often contain strong fragrances that can irritate sensitive feline noses.


The litter was changed

If you’ve recently switched litter brands, chances are your cat won’t like it.

They might not like having their feet on different surfaces either.

If you notice that your cat has stopped using her litter box.

Consider changing back to a different brand for a week or two to see if she resumes using it again.

If so, stick with that new brand. Otherwise, try switching to another one and observe her behavior in relation to both litters.

You may need to keep trying until you find one that works best for both of you.


The quality of litter was changed

Cats are very sensitive to change, and it’s not uncommon for a cat to stop using their litter box if something in their environment has changed.

Even something as simple as switching to a different brand of litter can cause issues.

If you recently made a switch, try reintroducing your cat to its old brand.

Sometimes it only takes one time for them to get used to it again.

You have more than one cat.

Having multiple cats is a lot like having children—they often don’t play well together, and they certainly don’t use the same things at once!

It may be worth looking into getting another litter box or two so that each of your cats has their own space.


Something about their routine has changed

The most common reason a cat stops using its litter box is that something has changed in its routine.

This can be anything from moving homes, to adding a new pet or family member to your home.

Introducing a new piece of furniture into your house, etc.

Sometimes it’s just one thing that changed—sometimes there are many changes at once.

This is why it’s important to keep an eye on your feline friend if you ever make any changes in their routine.

If they start avoiding their litter box after a change.

Try slowly reintroducing them back into it by first removing all other boxes and placing theirs back in their usual spot.

If they still don’t use it after doing so.

Take them to see your vet as soon as possible so they can get checked out and treated for any medical issues that may be causing them discomfort when trying to use their box.


Old age

As your cat ages, it’s common for them to become less active, or in some cases not as spry.

Being less active can mean that they aren’t as likely to make it outside of their litter box on time.

In addition, older cats may have trouble getting into and out of a litter box—and sometimes just getting up and down is difficult.

If you notice your cat struggling with these things, consider getting a lower-sided litter box to make access easier.

Or if you want more help monitoring your aging pet’s health, check out our list of 10 ways smart pet owners keep tabs on their pets’ health. 

Even changes in diet can affect how often your cat uses its litter box.

If you’ve recently switched what type of food you feed your cat (or changed brands).

Give it at least a week before trying any other solutions because it could take that long for all new ingredients to settle out of their system.

And let’s face it!

After decades of living together, we probably don’t need to explain why an upset stomach might stop a kitty from using its litter box.

Check out this article why are cats, great companions?

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