For the most part, cats usually take to the litter box quite instinctively. Unlike dogs, they don’t have to ask to go for walks to do their business. Cat parents take advantage of this and provide them with a litter box with the hopes they will use it and everyone will be happy. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.
There are many reasons why a cat may forgo the litter box and opt for the floor or a potted plant. Unfortunately it happens and when it does it’s up to the pet parent to figure out why. Before you schedule an appointment with a cat behaviorist, I strongly suggest you try to diagnose and treat the problem yourself first.
Here are some things to be mindful about:
- Make sure your cat’s litter box is large enough. The box should be at least 30 inches. This allows room for maneuvering and there is a much greater chance of a clean spot to use.
- Quiet spots: Cats are natural predators but are small enough to be natural prey as well. Instinct tells them they are vulnerable during elimination, and that there are always larger predators lurking about. Big dogs and small children running down a hallway may not mean your cats any harm, but they will still feel uneasy in an open spot like this. They prefer a quiet corner where they only need to be vigilant of a smaller area.
- Each box should be cleaned at least daily. If you can only do it every two days, add more boxes.
- Clumping litter: Like sand, a fine material, is more comfortable and easier for burying than the older-style coarse clay litter. Plus, we have an easier time cleaning up if the material clumps for quick scooping.
- Naturally scented litter: Some cats do not like ‘fresh scents.’ Those perfumes in litters, plug-ins and cleaners may mask their odors but are not pleasing to them and sometimes irritate their sensitive nasal passages.