11 Reasons Why Cats Won’t Use The Litter Box

There are many reasons why cats won't use the litter box.

Your cats won’t use the litter box, and you’re beyond furious with them. But don’t get angry, get creative. Approaching the problem from the cats’ point of view is sure to bring a faster resolution than anger will.

From such simple fixes as taking the top off a covered box to more elaborate ones, these are proven strategies that work. But first, some litter box basics.
(Skip the basics and go right to quick fixes)

The Litter Box Through A Cat’s Eyes

Cats can be even pickier about their bathroom facilities than humans are. And they don’t like dirty bathrooms any better than we do. If your cats won’t use the litter box, take a hard look at that box through their eyes.

Do you see clean places to walk when they step into the box? Does they have room to move around? Can they see an escape route from the box? Does the box smell like them, not perfume? Is there enough litter to dig in, but not so much they sink up to their ankles in sand? Is the box in a location they consider convenient and safe?

If your answer to all of these questions is yes, your cats probably have the perfect potty. If even one answer is no, you have some tweaking to do.

Why Some Cats Hate Litter Boxes

If your cats won’t use the litter box, call on your inner detective to try to understand why. You’ll be more likely to solve the problem if you understand what caused it.

Here are 11 reasons why cats won’t use the litter box. Use them as clues to help you figure out what’s causing problems at your house.

  1. Stress
  2. Not enough personal space
  3. Moving to a new home
  4. The box is in a location the cat doesn’t like.
  5. The arrival of a new puppy or kitten
  6. The arrival of a new baby
  7. Fear of the family dog or another cat
  8. Another cat visiting outside
  9. Construction and loud noises either in the house or outdoors
  10. Different litter or a new box
  11. Health issues: Urinary tract infections and bladder stones and crystals can be so painful they can cause cats to not use the litter box. Diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease can all cause cats to urinate so often and in such volume they can’t always get to a box. And older cats with arthritis often have difficulty getting in and out of a litter box.

What To Do When Cats Won’t Use The Litter Box

Stress is the main reason why cats won't use the litter box.Assuming your cats are in good health, here are some ways to encourage them to use their litter boxes.

  • Relieve stress. Stress is the most common reason for cats not using the litter box.
  • Scatter boxes around your house so the cats can always get to one without competing with everyone else.
  • Take the tops off your boxes. Cats like to see an escape route from the boxes, and that’s not possible if the boxes are covered.
  • Use unscented litter.
  • See more solutions

Kitty Stress Relievers

It’s possible that you can resolve your cats’ litter box issues simply by relieving stress. Think about giving these stress relievers a try.

  • If your cats are strictly indoors, think about getting them outside. Take them out on harnesses and leashes, provide some supervised outdoor time or consider building them an outdoor enclosure. Being outside is a great stress-reliever for cats, and it lets them mark their territory on the grass instead of the rugs.
  • Relieve  boredom by providing a stimulating and interesting indoor environment. Bored cats often become stressed cats.
  • Resolve space issues in multicat families. High places for perching and low places for hiding create the feeling of more room and relieve stress. 
  • Play with your cats with an interactive “wand” or “fishing pole” toy. Several vigorous play sessions each day will burn up energy and relieve boredom and stress.
  • Bach Flower Remedies are homeopathic remedies that restore a cat’s sense of balance and well-being. They cause no side effects and will not make your cat seem or feel like he’s drugged.
  • If all else fails, ask your vet about Prozac or another anti-anxiety drug. They do work!

Read More About Cat Litter Box Solutions

Think Inside The Box
Quick Fixes For Litter Box Problems