How to Retrain a Cat to Use the Litter Box

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Spay or neuter your cat.,
Reduce stress in your cat.,
Respond to vertical spraying.,
Replace small boxes as a kitten grows.,
Clip away matted fur in long-haired cats.,
Minimize damage when the owner is away.,
Improve behavior in multi-pet households.,
Separate animals if bad behavior continues.

This is not a requirement for litter training, but it does make urination outside the litter box much less likely. Unneutered males are especially likely to spray urine when they’re stressed, not getting along with another male, or demonstrating their availability to a female cat.The sooner this happens, the more likely the behavior will stop. If it goes on too long, the habit can persist even after surgery., Just like humans, cats may experience stress from changes in their environment or schedule. Your cat may stop using the litterbox after a person or other animal leaves the household, or when a new one moves in. Some cats even respond badly to redecoration. Here are a few ways to help:

Provide private places where the cat can be on its own, including hiding spots and high perches.
If your cat is allowed outside, let it come and go whenever it likes.Let your cat initiate contact, and be calm and consistent in your response. Some cats are stressed because they aren’t getting enough playtime, while others dislike being pet or picked up whenever the owner feels like it.
If the cat’s behavior continues, consult a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

, If your cat backs up against a vertical surface, wiggles its tail, and releases a spray of urine, your cat is spraying. If you don’t see it in action, look for roundish areas of strong-smelling urine a little higher up than the height of your cat’s rear end, with streak marks running down to the baseboard or floor. Any cat can perform this territorial behavior, but it is most common in unneutered, male cats. Here’s how to respond if your cat is spraying:

Spraying is often a response to stress or the presence of other cats.Follow the advice above to address this.
Spraying can be a response to a new neighborhood cat, especially if the spray is focused on a door, window, or air vent. Try to keep the cat out of your yard, or close the blinds so your cat can’t see it.
About 30% of cats that vets examine for spraying have a medical condition.It’s a good idea to have your cat examined, especially if you cannot find a solution.

, If you adopted your cat as a kitten, it may need a larger litter box once it grows up. The cat should be able to turn around comfortably, and still be able to find a clean spot if you miss a cleanup.Cats dislike change, and may take a while to adapt to the new box. Follow the instructions above if problems continue.

, Some long-haired cats dirty the fur around their rear when they eliminate. This can cause painful or unpleasant experiences that the cat learns to associate with the litter box. If you notice this happening, carefully clip away matted fur from the area., Some cats react poorly when their owner is away. They may try to urinate somewhere with a strong scent of the owner, usually the bed. Instruct the pet sitter to keep the bedroom door shut, and provide extra litter boxes so the cat can always reach one without walking by the pet sitter.If possible, hire a pet sitter the cat already knows, or at least introduce them before you leave.

, Urine marking is a common reaction to conflict with another cat or dog, which can happen even if the animals got along in the past. For best results, make sure each animal can access resources without approaching the other:Keep one litter box for each animal, plus one extra. Put each one in a separate location with at least two exit routes if possible.
Give each animal its own bed and food bowl. Keep these resources away from litter boxes and from each other.
Provide plenty of perches and hiding spaces for each cat.

, If your cat still won’t use the litter box, or still acts aggressive to the other animal, try a stricter method of separation. This is often necessary when bringing a new cat into the household:Separate the cats into rooms with a closed door in between, so they can smell but not see each other. Expose them to each other’s scents by feeding them on the two sides of the same door, or by switching their rooms daily.
After a few days, crack open the door. If they do not react badly, let them approach each other.
If they act aggressive, use leashes to keep them in the same room safely for short sessions. Let them play or eat during these sessions, and gradually bring them closer to each other each time.
Once the cats are calm, try rubbing a little tuna juice on their heads. This encourages relaxation through grooming, potentially even with each other.

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