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My Cat Is Not Using The Litter Box – What Does That Mean?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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My Cat Is Not Using The Litter Box – What Does That Mean?

Cats not using the litter box is a common problem. The owners of these naughty cats often call their vet and ask what this unpleasant behavior is "saying" and how to stop it.

Not using the litter box is commonly referred to as inappropriate urination. Many reasons, including medical and psychological ones, can influence an otherwise clean and obedient cat to eliminate inside the house.

Behavioral reasons for inappropriate elimination can range from a litter box location that is too noisy and scary (such as near a washer or dryer), a box that is too dirty, a heavily scented or otherwise unappealing litter, traces of cleaner in the box, and dominance issues. For more information on common reasons cats won't use the litter box, please read: The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won't Use the Litter Box.

Medical explanations include bladder stones, bladder or urinary tract infections, and other urinary irritation or pain. The latter are sometimes called Painful Bladder Syndrome, Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS), and Feline Interstitial Cystitis (FIC).

Symptoms can include straining to urinate, blood in the urine or signs of urination outside the litter box. If you see any of these signs, please see your veterinarian immediately. Tests such as a urinalysis can be used to look for signs of blood, crystals or infections.

So in short:

"What does it mean when my cat is not using the litter box?"

It means there is a problem-medical or behavioral, something is wrong.

A couple articles that may also be helpful include:

The Fine Art of Litter Box Care
Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)
The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won't Use the Litter Box
Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS) in Cats

Some causes of inappropriate elimination can be stress related. These articles may help you alleviate boredom and eliminate the problem:

Cat Toys - Selecting the Right Toys for Your Cats Play Preference
Selecting the Right Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat

I hope this helps you learn a little more about why your cat may not be using the litter box.


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