The number one question cat owners ask is “Why is my cat pooping outside the litter box?”. This is a common problem with cat owners. What can be done to make this part of owning cats easier? Jackson Galaxy, a world-renowned cat behaviorist and wellness expert tells us how to figure out why your feline friends are engaging in plush (or pee) activities outside the litter box.
When your cat surprises you with an unexpected mess, it’s time to play detective. It can be hard to remove emotion from the equation when you find pee in your bed, but it is important to stand back and observe. Galaxy says, “Pretend that you’re a detective or a journalist and you’re just coming in there to get the story. What are the facts here? What are the patterns? I think folks tend to use the word ‘random’ absolutely too much. In a cat’s world, very little is random.”
Think about any recent changes in your cat’s routine or environment. This could be the addition of a new baby, an absence from family members including other pets, switching litter boxes, and more. These things can disrupt your cat’s litter box routine. Try to figure out what changed in your cat’s life around the time she started avoiding her litter box.
Galaxy says that if you notice your cat is pooping outside the litter box, then going to a vet would be an excellent idea. This is a tip to tail check-up for any health issues. “I’ve seen cats act out in that way with an abscessed tooth. I’ve seen them act out that way from an ear infection. Of course, with a UTI, or any kind of disease, there’s something physically that’s putting them off.” he said. If you’re noticing that your cat is starting to refuse food or act shy around people even though nothing has changed in your household then it’s worth taking them straight for vet care.
Senior cats with bad joints may have a tough time climbing into the litter box or griping on it. Declawed felines can become very sensitive to touch as they age. They may start preferring soft, accessible spots and avoid using tricky litter boxes because those surfaces are painful for them.
You can make sure the box is always clean by scooping out any dirt every day. This will keep your cat interested in using his litter again, and also prevent him from getting too discouraged with how dirty it gets. But you don’t need to wash the box every day, or even weekly. Cats need to know they own the territory, and one way is by scent. When you sanitize a litter box every week, it threatens the sense of security your cat has within their environment.
Cats are very sensitive to smells, and scented litter can be too much for their noses. The feline nose has about 200 million odor sensors (humans have 5 million). If you want your cat to use the litter box, it’s best not to spray any fruity or floral scents in their area. Plus hiding their scent with chemicals will reduce how much impact they can claim as a territorial marker. The best way to keep your cat happy and safe is by providing them with unscented litter. There are tons of options out there that do not include any extra smells. Why not try out a few types of litter to see what your cat prefers?
Galaxy says that if you cover your cat’s litter box, there is a chance it can cause an “ambush zone.” The space where they may feel trapped and especially so near other cats or pets in the home. Long-haired cats are at risk for static shocks from plastic covers that they may rub against. They don’t need privacy as humans do, but these felines still deserve to feel comfortable and safe in their environment. If you’re having problems with your cat kicking litter around, get a box that has tall sides and an open top.
The general rule is to have one litter box per cat, plus an extra. Galaxy also advocates for placing these in several places that are easy to find. “I’m not trying to be harsh about this at all, but you made your bed. You have a cat… and part of having cats is having litter boxes, and part of having litter boxes is having enough of them inaccessible places,” he says.
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