Why Do Cats Quit Using Litter Box? (5 Reasons and Easy Solutions)

By Phil / January 12, 2018
Why Do Cats Quit Using Litter Box

One of the most frustrating issues to deal with as a cat owner is struggling to get your cat to use their litter box.

It’s even more frustrating when your cat used to use the litter box just fine, but now has decided not to and start messing around the house.

If you have found yourself in this situation I can help. I had a cat quit using its box once, and after a little trial and error I got to the root of the problem and solved it.

So, why do cats quit using their litter box and what can you do about it?

I will break down the most common reasons and give you some solutions:

Why Do Cats Quit Using Litter Box?

The Litter Box Isn’t Clean Enough

Cats are fussy and hygienic animals, if the litter box isn’t changed often enough or has developed a smell over time that isn’t going away it can put them off.

The first thing you should do is give the box a really good scrub with some powerful cleaning products. Then rinse it enough times that there is absolutely no sense of cleaning product on it.

Remember, cats have a much more powerful sense of smell than we do, so when you think it’s as clean as new – clean it one more time.

Your Cat Has a Medical Issue

Cats are not able to tell us when there is something medically wrong (although some cats will be vocal and meow). On top of that, they are pretty good at hiding it.

It is however a common reason for cats to stop using their litter box. Issues like a urinary tract infection or pain and discomfort making it difficult to access their box are common causes.

Your cat will associate the pain with using their box if it’s happening when they use it. If you suspect any health issue at all take them to the vets asap.

Another Cat Has Invaded Their Territory

Do you have another cat in the home that may have used the same tray? Or, have you introduced a new cat or pet to the home recently?

It may even be that a cat from outside has come into the home and been near the box. Some cats will be put off just by spotting another cat watching them use their tray.

If any of the above is applicable to you this may be the reason your cat has gone off their litter box.

Cats value their own space and privacy. If it’s been invaded by another cat they can just leave the area alone.

They No Longer Like the Litter

For reasons that we may never really know the answer to, a cat can decide they no longer like the litter you’re using.

There are various types of litter. Some are larger than others, some clump more, they all smell different, it’s not as simple as picking the first one you see.

If you’ve tried some of the other things and still not having success try a different litter and see if this makes a difference.

While I’ve not had a cat change their preference before, I’ve had cats refuse to use certain letters and be perfectly happy with a different brand so I know it happens.

Something Has Changed near their Box?

Being creatures of habit if, something has changed near their box it can make them turn their noses up and stop using it, or worse traumatize them.

Have you moved any furniture around? Is there now a breeze or more noise than there used to be?

Any changes at all, no matter how small, revert them back and encourage your cat to use the box again. See if this makes any difference.

How to Retrain Your Cat to Use Their Litter Box

While you’re troubleshooting the methods above to find out the reason behind your cats change in behavior there are a few things you can do to encourage them to use their box again:

  • Make sure their box is accessible and easily visible if you’ve moved it
  • Play with some toys near their box so they are well aware of where it is
  • Give them privacy if it looks like they are going to use it or just check it out
  • Keep their box even cleaner in future
  • Give them treats after they use their box

To be honest, once you’ve solved the underlying issue that was causing the problem it shouldn’t be difficult to get your kitty back using their box.

I’ve worked with a few people and once we sorted the issue their cats just went back to using their boxes.

Cat’s are clean animals and take pride in using their toilet. That’s what gives us cat lovers a one-up on the dog lovers, right?

Good luck and feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below if you have any.