As with sudden shifts in behaviour with any of your animals, should your cat’s habits (especially around the toilet) change you should immediately go to the vet. Several serious health problems are noticeable if your cat is having trouble reliving himself, or starts missing his tray, etc.
If your vet has ruled out any physical problem as the reason for your troubles, try the following behaviour advice if your cat doesn’t want to use his litter tray:
Make sure there are enough litter boxes. If you have more than one cat, you will need more than one tray. Cats like to have a clean, fresh place to relive themselves (like us!) and will often feel crowded if more than one cat is using the same box. Have at least one box per cat, and spread them around the house so they can have some privacy.
Keep food and toilet separate. Although it might be convenient for you to have all your cats things in one place, cats don’t like to eat in the same area where they defecate. Keep food and water bowls in a different room to the litter tray.
Try changing the type of litter you are using. Cats can be very fussy about what they like to scratch to cover their mess. Try a various brands, even put two kinds next to each other in different trays to see what your cat prefers. Also, check the depth of the litter to make sure its not too deep or shallow for your cat’s preference.
Keep the tray clean by changing your cat’s litter everyday. Some cats will only use trays if the litter is changed daily. Especially for those who have spent a lot of time outdoors, simply removing the soiled litter may not be enough; outside, cats have the freedom to find a fresh spot to relive themselves and many will simply not use a messy tray. If you have a picky single cat a second tray can also help this.
Check to see if its easy for your cat to get to his tray. Getting a new dog, roommate or some other addition to the house can make a cat feel like his path to the tray is blocked or unsafe. If so, move his tray to a more accessible place. Also, as cats get older jumping onto a high shelf can be tricky (Or if a cat develops arthritis he may not be able to jump. Your vet will be able to tell you if this is the case.).
Place the tray in a quiet part of the house, not in a busy pathway, or by a window where other cats may pass by. Dogs, unfortunately, do love to snack on cat poo, and even if your cat is comfortable with your dog he may not appreciate being followed to his tray by your best friend. Look for a private place that your cat can use where he won’t be disturbed.
Lastly, if your cat likes to use your indoor plants as a loo place stones or shells in the pot which will make it unwelcoming to scratch there. Alternately, get a fine gardening mesh that you can put around the plant and cover it with a thin layer of soil.
“If you want a good dog (or cat!) you need to be a great owner.”
Karis – aka Rogz Wrangler
(c) Karis Nafte 2015