How to Resolve Cat Litter Tray Issues

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Change the location of the litterbox.,
Make the litter tray easier for your cat to climb into and out of.,
Increase the number of litter trays.,
Change your cat’s litter.,
Clean your cat’s litter tray regularly.,
Reduce your cat’s stress.,
Treat your cat’s underlying medical problem.,
Clean the area where your cat is eliminating.,
Make the surface unpleasant for your cat to stand on.,
Put other objects in that area.,
Refrain from physically abusing your cat.,
Do not confine your cat with her litter tray.,
Do not use treats to entice your cat to use the litter tray.

For every litter tray issue, there is a solution. You may think your cat’s litter tray is in the perfect location, but your cat may think otherwise. If you placed it somewhere far away or unpleasant, like behind a noisy appliance or way down in the basement where she your cat can’t easily access it, she will avoid it. She’ll also stay away if the litter tray is in a high-traffic area where she won’t have adequate privacy.

Move the litter tray to where she is currently eliminating, since that location is clearly her preference. After about a month, move the box—literally inch by inch—to an area that’s more appropriate.Your cat may not be using the litter tray because it’s close to her food and water—she does not want to eliminate where she eats and drinks. Move the litter tray as far away from the food and water bowls as possible.Ideally, the location for her litter tray should be in a private, low-traffic area that is easily accessible to her (but not children or other pets). If she hears someone coming, she should be able to exit the area quickly.If your cat has mobility issues, or is incontinent, move the litter tray closer to an area where she frequents.;
, This is especially important if you have an old, arthritic, or injured cat who has mobility issues. Find a litter tray that has low sides.If purchasing a new litter tray is not practical for you, you could try cutting the sides of the litter tray you have to make the entrance lower for your cat.

Covered litter trays, while adding privacy, can be challenging for a cat with limited mobility to use.
If you have a small cat, you may need to purchase a smaller litter tray. Similarly, a larger cat will need a roomier litter tray.

, If you have a multi-cat household, an insufficient number of litter trays could cause one cat to get bullied away from the available trays. Now you have two problems: inappropriate elimination and stress. To address these problems, have one tray per cat, plus one extra.Each litter tray should be placed in a different location, ideally in a different room.
To help the bullied cat feel less stressed, place her tray in the area where she spends most of her time.Consider putting litter trays on each level of your home, if applicable.

, Although humans might like deodorized litter with the sweet smell of lavender, your cat’s sensitive sense of smell might have her thinking the complete opposite. Any litter with a strong scent has the potential to put off a cat from using it. If you are currently putting scented litter in her litter tray, switch to an unscented litter.The type of substrate is also important. Some cats prefer grass or dirt, similar to what they would use outdoors. Other cats may prefer smooth or soft surfaces, like bedding or carpeting.Some cats prefer non-clumping litter, since clumping litter can get caught between their paws and claws.
Consider leaving out multiple litter trays, each with a different litter type, so your cat can choose which one she prefers.If you switch litters, due so slowly. Any change can cause your cat to feel stress, which itself can cause litter tray issues.Whichever litter type you choose, put only 1 to 2 inches of litter into the tray.Any more than that, and your cat could have trouble maneuvering within the litter to eliminate.

, Your cat may be avoiding her litter tray because the litter is too dirty. In fact, she may be eliminating somewhere else because that location is cleaner than her litter tray.If this is the case, establish a more frequent cleaning schedule for her litter tray.

Scoop out and change the litter on a daily basis, and give the entire tray a thorough cleaning with baking soda and unscented soap once a week.Daily litter scoops and changes are especially important if you are using clumping litter.
Self-cleaning litter trays are also available.Litter tray liners help keep litter trays clean, but not all cats like them.You may want to wear a mask so you don’t breathe in the dust from the litter.Keep in mind that the paws that walk in the litter tray are going to be on your lap soon.

, Since stress can lead to litter tray issues, try to identify and remove potential stressors in your cat’s environment. For example, keep her routine as steady as possible. Other ways to reduce her stress include keeping her food and water bowls full and in the same place and closing blinds and windows to block her sight of outside cats.If your cat is stressed because of conflicts with your other cats, give each cat her own resting area and make sure each cat has her own supply of toys and scratching posts., If your veterinarian has identified a disease that’s causing the litter tray issues, then treating that disease will resolve (or at least reduce) the issues. For example, if your cat has a urinary tract problem, your veterinary may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat the condition.For mobility issues like arthritis, your cat may need medications to relieve pain and inflammation.

Some diseases, like a urinary tract infection, are easily treatable. However, other conditions like kidney failure or diabetes require long-term management.
Even after treating the underlying medical condition, your cat may not immediately go back to using the tray.This may be because she has a negative association with the litter tray—she may associate the pain of her medical condition with the litter tray.

, As you can see, resolving your cat’s litter tray issues takes a lot of work. After all of that effort, you would not want your cat slipping back into old habits by revisiting the area of inappropriate elimination. To make this area undesirable, clean it thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner that is specific for removing pet odors.Enzymatic cleaners are available at your local pet store.Do not use an ammonia-containing cleaner. The ammonia could actually attract your cat back to the area.It may take multiple cleanings to remove your cat’s odor from the area.

, To discourage your cat from going back to her old elimination spot, make it difficult or uncomfortable for her to find her footing on that area’s surface. Place double-sided tape on the floor. You can also put tinfoil or upside-down carpet runners in the area.If your cat can’t get comfortable, then she won’t go back to that spot to eliminate.

, Your cat will probably want to eliminate in an area that does not have any of her other creature comforts nearby. To make the area of inappropriate elimination more undesirable to your cat, place a food bowl or water bowl in that spot. You could also place her bed or toys in the area to discourage her from eliminating there., You may be frustrated with your cat when she eliminates outside of her litter tray, but you should never physically punish her. Physical punishment includes rubbing her nose in her urine or feces and dragging her to her litter tray.This type of negative reinforcement will not correct her behavior, and will make her more fearful of you and stressed.

Remember your cat’s perspective: it is stressful for her that she can’t use the litter tray, especially if a medical problem is keeping her from doing so.Do not make her stress and suffering worse by punishing her.
Do not scold or yell at your cat.

, You may think that keeping your cat in a small, enclosed room with a litter tray will encourage her to use it. Without addressing the underlying problem of why she is not using the tray, confining her in a room with it will not solve the problem.Do your due diligence to identify and address the underlying problem.

, If your cat has developed some type of aversion to her litter tray, treats will not make it look more appealing to her. She will not want to be disturbed, much less eat, when she is trying to eliminate.Making the litter tray more appealing in general (e.g., adequate privacy, comfortable litter, low entrance) will be more effective than enticing her with treats.

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