Tricks for the cat to use the litter box

Tricks for the cat to use the litter box

Cats are very clean animals, as we can see by observing their hygienic habits both in terms of their hygiene and in the use of sand for their bowel movements.

Therefore, finding urine or feces outside the litter box is a big question for caregivers . Why is my cat refusing to use his litter box? We hope these clues help you find out.

You may also be interested in: What is the best litter for cats?

The cat and the sandbox

When the kittens are born, their mother must stimulate the genital area to get them to defecate and urinate. After fifteen days they start to walk and shortly after they are able to use the sandbox in an instinctive way , since we will only have to introduce it to them.

From that moment, and throughout their lives, cats will use it without any problem even if we introduce small changes such as a different litter, a new litter box or a different location.

Stool out of the sandbox

If one day we find urine or excrement outside the litter box we can think that it has been an accident but if the situation repeats we must find out what the problem is because what we have to be clear about is that the cat does not do it to annoy us .

We must observe the circumstances in which this inappropriate elimination has occurred, ask ourselves if there has been any change at home, even if it seems insignificant, look for other symptoms of disease, etc. Another important factor to consider is the age of the cat and whether it is spayed or not.

With all this information we must consult with the veterinarian. Improper elimination is usually related to stress or marking problems, but before accepting any of these causes we must rule out a physical problem .

It is recommended to clean the affected areas with detergents with active oxygen. If the cat always goes to the same place, we can place the litter box there or, on the contrary, food.

We must also pay attention to the current litter tray in case it needs a change of location, size, type of litter or format, in order to make it more attractive to the cat. We must clean it frequently.

Signs of illness

A cat that urinates or defecates outside the litter box may have a problem related to elimination. For example, a cystitis or bladder infection makes the cat feel the urge to urinate many times in very small amounts. It is a disease that, in addition, is very painful, so that if the cat relates the sensation of pain to the litter box, it may be reluctant to use it and therefore seek relief outside.

It is very important that we go to the vet because bladder infections can rise and affect the kidneys , causing kidney failure . It is males, due to their anatomy, who are more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections.

Problems that affect defecation such as constipation or disorders in the anal glands such as abscesses or tumors, can make the evacuation painful and produce a negative association with the litter box. Of course, it also requires veterinary treatment.

Kidney disease, but also other metabolic diseases, can be the cause of an increase in the amount of urine that the cat eliminates. This higher frequency of elimination may explain why we find some pee outside the sandbox. As in the previous cases, the cat must be taken to the vet so that, after the pertinent tests that will include at least blood and urine tests, it reaches a diagnosis.


Once the vet has ruled out a physical problem, the explanation for improper elimination may lie in stress. Cats are very sensitive to changes, so an alteration in their routine can trigger stress responses with signs such as elimination outside the litter box, excessive self-grooming that even results in skin lesions, severe hair loss, changes in appetite , fear, etc …


But it is not only stress that causes improper elimination. If we have a cat that has begun sexual maturity, which happens between 5-8 months of age, and we do not neuter it, it is normal that it begins to urinate everywhere to mark its territory .

Although it is a very normal behavior in males, females can also present an inadequate elimination during heat. This emission of urine will be produced by spraying and the cat will make an effort to direct it to leave its scent in the place that interests it.

The sterilization of males and females before they start their sexual maturity marking avoids these problems.

How to make changes in the lives of cats?

To avoid stressing the cat and thus anticipating the appearance of elimination problems, we must follow some guidelines if we have to make a change that substantially alters the daily life of our cat. They are as follows:

  • If something works, we should not change it. For example, if the cat uses its litter without problem, it is not necessary for us to use another.
  • Any alteration must be introduced gradually, so that the novel element comes into contact with the cat gradually.
  • There are products for sale such as pheromone sprays, feed, treats, etc., which can be used with the cat and the environment for its relaxing effect.
  • Of course, it will help us to follow the indications that a veterinarian specialized in behavior or an ethologist, a professional of feline behavior, gives us about our specific case.

Environmental enrichment

Sometimes there is no change in the cat’s life, but it becomes stressed out of frustration. This is what happens in cats that lack stimuli. To offer you what is known as an enriched environment, we must follow the following guidelines:

  • A house designed for cats can increase their activity. Shelving, nooks, and furniture that allows you to climb and observe from above are a good start.
  • Scratching posts, interactive and homemade toys with pheromones or catnip are a great option.
  • Let’s not forget to dedicate our attention to it for a while every day.

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