cat in litter box graphic

When it comes to picking the right litter box for your cat, there are a number of variables that can cause difficulties with the “process of elimination,” as it were.  If your cat seems to have trouble acclimating to the litter box you have appointed, or simply won’t use his litter box at all, here are some possible factors to consider. Below are five of the most common mistakes cat owners make when it comes to litter boxes.

1. Not using the right litter.  Oh yes, there is a right sort and a wrong sort, but each cat will have his or her own preference as to what the “right sort” of litter might be. While we humans might prefer odorized litter to help mask the urine smell, many cats find these fragrances nauseating or off-putting.  If your cat is refusing to go in the litter box, opt for an unscented version. Since litter comes in all kinds of textures (from sand, to gravel, small pebbles, to paper shavings, etc.) find out which kind of texture your cat seems to be most approving of. Though this might take a few rounds of trial and error, you will be thankful you sorted the problem out early on.

2. Choosing the wrong litter box.  If your cat is refusing to use his litter box on the regular, it might be because it is simply impractical for his body type or size. For example, if the roof is to low, making the cat bump her head on it (which sometimes happens if the litter is piled too high) or if the walls are too narrow, or poorly ventilated, then a cat might feel uncomfortable eliminating inside. Some cats dislike using litter boxes with “roofs” so try taking the top off the litter box to see if you have better success. Should your cat still have a problem, it might be a different spacing issue. Most cats prefer larger litter boxes, so if you have any questions, speak to a pet store employee about your cat’s breed and size. This will help you choose a box that will leave the cat with plenty of well-ventilated space to do his business.

3. Litter proximity problems. Some pet owners have a “cat area” where they load all the cat toys, cat food and water bowls, cat bed, and litter box all in one little corner or room. While it is much more convenient to keep all your kitty-gear in one place, this scenario does not set your cat up to succeed.  Unless you would feel comfortable eating dinner on your own bathroom floor, you really should re-think some of the spacing choices.

4. Not renewing the litter often enough. This pretty much goes without saying. Just like humans, cats detest going potty in a dirty place. If you have been lazy with your cleaning habits, and have failed to sift through the old litter, or replace it with a fresh batch, then your cat might turn up his nose at the idea of urinating there.  While animals are primal (and if they get desperate enough, the will do what they need to do), don’t be surprised if you find puddles or poopy-piles on your floor whenever the litter box needs to be refreshed.  The good news is, if you are too busy to clean it every day, there are automatic self-cleaning litter boxes on the market that you could try!

5. Cleaning the litter box when pregnant.  Are you aware of the dangers that pregnant women face if they own pets?  Poop scooping through soiled cat litter is a BIG no-no if you are carrying a child.  The bacteria in feline fecal matter (known as toxoplasmosis) can cause birth defects and even be life-threatening for a growing fetus. Protect your unborn child by handing this chore over to your husband or roommate.