Cats are naturally attracted to a litter box for elimination. Problems tend to arise when the litter box is covered, too small, or not cleaned regularly.
First and foremost, potential medical issues causing inappropriate elimination need to be addressed by your veterinarian before looking further into possible behavioral causes. If your cat has loose stools or is urinating frequently, please seek medical advice from a veterinarian.
Make sure the litter boxes are easily accessible
- Have plenty of litter boxes! The rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat, plus one.
- Place litter boxes throughout the home, including all levels of a multilevel home.
- Avoid noisy, dark or cramped locations, such as closets, laundry areas, behind toilets, etc.
- Hiding or covering the box will make it unattractive to your cat, and make you less likely to notice when the box needs to be scooped.
Select your litter carefully
- We recommend plain, unscented, clumping, soft sand-like textured litter such as World’s Best Cat Litter©. Crystal and pellet litters are foreign to most cats.
- Fill box with about 2” of litter – enough to cover, but not too deep that their paws sink in too much.
- We do not recommend using litter robots or litter “systems” with pellets, sifters, and/or pads.
Make sure that the litter boxes are BIG enough to comfortably accommodate your cat
- Choose shallow pans for kittens and senior cats for ease of accessibility.
- Most commercially made boxes are too small for cats over 8 lbs.
- Box should be big enough for your cat to stretch out fully while scratching to cover, and to turn around without hunching or stepping outside the box.
- Think outside the pet store litter box! Plastic Sterilite storage containers make great litter box alternatives for cats over 8 lbs. Simply cut openings on two sides that are large enough for your cat to enter and exit.
Keep the boxes clean!
- Cats prefer a clean box every time they use it. Scoop litter boxes daily! Multiple cats mean multiple cleanings. The best way to keep your home odor free is by scooping often.
- The entire box should be emptied of all litter, washed with warm water and mild unscented detergent once every two to four weeks. Refrain from washing the box with strong-smelling cleaners.
We are always here to help! You can find additional behavior and training resources at pasadenahumane.org/behavior.