This is something you really don’t want your cat to have. This is when your cat isn’t ill, they just don’t want to use the litter box. It can happen for many reasons but your first stop should always be your veterinarian’s office to make sure it isn’t an illness driving your cat from the box.
Having a urinary tract infection makes urination painful. Some cats start associating that pain with the litter box and try going elsewhere to ease their pain. Sometimes sinks and tubs because it’s cool but also blankets, clothes… anywhere soft or cool.
Even if it starts out medical, it can move to habit so don’t let this go long. Get to a vet if your cat’s litter box habits change. It’s much better to have a diagnoses, do a round of antibiotics and go on with life, then teach your cat not to use the litter box and have to retrain bad habits later. Cats are very smart and can learn anything… in their time, on their terms.
If you have been to the vet and received a clean bill of health start with trying to find a trigger. Have you had household changes? New people moved in? New pet guarding the litter box so your cat can’t use it? New litter? New box? Any of this can cause upset to your cat and change habits. I don’t know how many times owners have reported about male cats urinating on their new boyfriend-girlfriends clothes.
If there has been a change, go back to what you had before as best you can. If it is a new housemate, make sure your cat feels your love and that this new occupant hasn’t changed your relationship. Spend more time with your cat, playing or loving.
Was there a litter box change: New box, new litter, new location… anything to break the cycle and find out what your cat needs. If you want to add a new litter box or litter type do not change what your cat has, just add the new stuff until your cat is using it well
Self cleaning litter-boxes are great for humans, but can be very scary to a skittish cat. Did you recently
Highly preferred by me at home, clumping litter is made of clay and hardens when it gets wet to make all cat waste into easy balls to scoop out and toss so you can keep the litter cleaner longer. The litter stays drier. Smells less and just is easier to maintain all around.
This is not the preferred type in a pet hospital however. They might even hiss at you for trying. Sick cats can’t always escape their litter boxes so clumping clay sticks to their tails, butts, makes painful balls between their toes… Ugh! It is a mess on your pet! Then they try to clean themselves and eat feces soaked clay. Not good for digestion! Blockage anyone? Clumping litter is also very dusty and may set off allergies. It is heavy so lugging out the trash can be rough and its non-biodegradable. Clay is always just clay. ASPCA does not recommend any clay litter in cats younger than four months as they might eat it just for fun.
This is clay as well so it absorbs the urine nicely, but it doesn’t stick together. It used to be the hospital favorite since it’s easier to keep off fur, cheep as dirt and isn’t used long term. Cats in the hospital are cleaned very often so this litter is a great addition. The cheep factor is also great in the home and some cats just prefer the feel.
However, it is impossible to get all the urine and wetness out when you scoop the box and so it will stink more. You will have to dump the box and clean it out more often as waste will stick to the sides more so it is much more work for you. It’s also still clay and will still put up dust.
Usually made from recycled paper and made into pellets or granules. This is the favorite litter for the environment. It’s already been used once and it’s completely biodegradable. There is still a little dust but it’s a great deal less than clay could ever boast and it seems to be a heavier dust that doesn’t want to hang out in the air long. It used to be too expensive for hospital use but the price is coming down nicely and is quickly taking over as hospital favorite. It doesn’t stick to wounds or fur as much and it’s paper, so a reasonable amount of accidental ingestion isn’t going to be detrimental.
Clean up and cost is what kills it for most. It has the same drawback as non-clumping litter in keeping it clean and dry. It will cost more, and you will go through it faster. The granules will be a bit easier to maintain than the pellets, but both will need to be scooped more frequently as well as dumped and washed more frequently. Least likely to cause blockages.
**When you get used to things, you stick with them but now there are other options and now we must move into uncharted new territory. Here are the other options with the internets thoughts on them.
Silica Gel Crystals
This is made from the same stuff the packets that keep moisture out of our food does, so it is excellent at staying clean and dry for long amounts of time. Apparently, it likes moisture so much it will pull it out of the air around the box as well! Talk about powerful! Because it’s so good at clumping it is easy to scoop out and will work great in automatic litter boxes. Easy seems to be the greatest review for this litter. Dust is relatively not an issue and it’s lighter than most litters so lugging it out of the house isn’t an issue.
Ok, so it’s made from the same packets in our food! The packets that say ‘do not eat’ on them! Cats lick their paws to keep clean. I’m sure in small amounts this is no big thing but ugh! The vet tech in me is hyperventilating a bit. It’s also crunchy a little so they may not like it anyway and most of the advertisements say you can go a month without dumping the box. Please don’t do that. It doesn’t sound hygienic at all.
This comes from lumber mill leftovers that are baked to get rid of toxins and sap. This litter just turns into sawdust when it gets wet so you scoop the solid bits and shake the box so the sawdust shifts to the bottom then just dump the box when it’s mostly dust. This one is naturally scented as pine and covers urine orders quite well. The larger pellet size makes dust minimal and it is environmentally pleasing.
Don’t like the intense sent of pine? Your cat might not either. The larger pellet size might also put them off. Since it doesn’t clump or stick, it’s not going to change the smell of feces. It might be the cheapest of the natural litters, but clay is still cheaper. We also come back to blockage.
This is made from the walnut shells that are normally just tossed after shelling, so we can consider it ‘recycled’ as well. You can see why so many environmentally friendly people chose the natural litters. Walnut clumps better than the other natural brands so easier cleanup, is pretty ok at odor control and has low dust.
Did I say low dust? Well, some people disagree so I can’t say but it costs a lot and better clumping doesn’t mean good clumping, so you’ll still have to scoop and change the whole box frequently. This one seemed to get the worst hospital review as I remember hearing multiple vets recommending against it due to the blockages they have had to surgically remove. To be fair, blockage is a risk with just about anything, but this one was most frequently mentioned.
What wont they use corn for? Corn is a very versatile grain. Cheap and easily renewable it also clumps really well and even does pretty good at keeping the sides of the box cleaner than most litters.
Texture may be a problem and the smell certainly puts a lot of people off. Vets don’t recommend it for asthma cats due to the dust. You would think with how easily renewable it is, it would be cheaper, especially when it stinks so bad you are changing it all the time. It’s also known to cause blockages… In Dogs! Dogs like cat poop. Like… a lot. So if your cat shares space with a canine friend, this isn’t the best choice.
What happens to wheat that isn’t good enough quality to eat? Well, we give it to our cats to poop on of course. It seems to be the size and consistency of clay litter so most cats wont think twice about it. Starts out strong on odor control.
Get used to sweeping. There will be wheat dust there so tracking is an issue. The odor control weakens over time. Store in air tight container to keep weevils at bay.