4 Reasons Your Cat Might Be Avoiding the Litterbox

Is your cat eliminating outside of her litterbox? There are a variety of possible reasons for this kind of behavior. Below, your Ellicott City, MD veterinarian tells you about some of the most common reasons for litterbox avoidance, and what you can do to correct the problem.


Who wants to do their business in a dirty bathroom? Your cat definitely doesn’t! Cats often shun their litterbox if it isn’t cleaned out frequently enough. Make sure to scoop out your cat’s litterbox daily, and change the litter entirely about once a week.


Where you place your cat’s bathroom is very important. Like you, your cat doesn’t want to use the bathroom in a crowded, noisy, highly trafficked area. When it’s placed in a quiet, out-of-the-way location, your cat is most likely to keep using it! In most homes, a laundry room, basement, or upstairs bathroom works well for litterbox location; any area where your cat isn’t likely to be disturbed will do just fine.

Litter Type

Did you know that different cats like different kinds of litter? You might have to do some experimenting to find out what kind of litter you cat prefers. There is a wide variety out there: clumping and non-clumping, scented litters, different granule sizes and base materials… ask your vet for a recommendation on a litter type that your cat may prefer using.

Negative Conditioning

Sometimes, a cat may avoid the litterbox as an adult if she was startled while using one during her kitten years. This is called negative conditioning; your cat associates the litterbox with being frightened or startled. A problem like this may require the help of an animal trainer or animal behaviorist to correct—contact your veterinarian if you suspect that this kind of issue might be affecting your pet.

If the above methods don’t make a difference with your cat’s litterbox aversion, a medical issue may be to blame. Everything from urinary tract infections to arthritis can cause a cat to avoid their bathroom! Make an appointment at your vet’s office to have your cat examined, because you’ll want to have any medical issues taken care of promptly so that your cat—and your home—can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Want to know more about your cat’s bathroom habits? Does your pet need an exam? Schedule an appointment at your Ellicott City, MD animal hospital.

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