Failure to Use the Litter Box


litter box issuesCats that avoid using their litter boxes are one of the most common reasons cats are surrendered to shelters. Litter box issues always have a reason.  It is your job to discover what the reason is and correct it.  There are solutions.  If the proper steps are followed, you can get your RagaMuffin cat back to using their litter box and make the life for your cat and yourself more pleasant.

Rule out Medical Issues

Ensure there is no medical cause causing litter box issues. The first thing you must do if you see a RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat urinating or defecating outside the litter box is to take your RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat to the vet.  You need to determine if there is a medical reason for the litter box issue. A RagaMuffin cat can have a urinary tract infection, crystals or stones, making urinating painful.  These conditions can also cause spasms of the bladder.  This can result in the cat just urinating wherever he or she is when the spasm occurs. Urinating outside the litter box can also be your RagaMuffin kitten’s way of telling you that there is a physical problem. If there is a medical reason for your RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat’s behavior, you can work with your vet to get your RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat healthy and resolve the problem.

Keep the Litter Box Scooped and Disinfected Frequently

Ensuring regular cleaning of the litter box. If it is determined that there is no physical cause for the litter box avoidance, you need to look at the environment. You should start with the litter box. RagaMuffin kittens and RagaMuffin cats are scrupulously clean animals and a dirty litter box may turn them off, especially given their heightened sense of smell.

With one RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat, litter boxes should be scooped at least twice per day and the litter changed out on a regular basis. The litter box should be cleaned with hot water and a disinfectant. Bleach on a 1:10 ratio is a good disinfectant, but make sure to remove all organic matter before spraying with bleach.

Bleach breaks down quickly, so make the solution for cleaning the day you intend to use it. You need to leave the bleach solution in the litter box for at least 10 minutes for it to properly disinfect the litter box.  Rinse and dry the litter box well and fill with about three inches of fresh nonscented litter.

RagaMuffin cats do not like scented litter.  You should start your kitten out with the same cat litter that your RagaMuffin breeder was using.  You can slowly change the cat litter to the type you prefer.  There are many options in cat litter available.  Some people use pine pellets cat litter as it is extremely low to no dust cat litter.  Other people use a corn-based scoopable cat litter that is flushable.  There are some people that will use a low-dust scoopable clay cat litter. There are also the non-scoopable clay cat litters available.

Ensure You Have Enough Litter Boxes and They are Placed in Good Locations

The number of litter boxes and their location can also be a contributing factor to litter box avoidance. A good rule of thumb is that you should have a number of litter boxes equal to the number of RagaMuffin kittens or RagaMuffin cats (and other cats) you have, plus one additional box. The litter boxes should be placed on different levels of your house if you have more than one level. Litter boxes should not be placed in areas where there will be a lot of activity, traffic, and noise.

In order to alleviate any fear, the RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat may have of being trapped and ambushed by another cat, place the litter boxes in an area where the RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat has a good view of the room and can escape if they feel the need to. It is not a good idea to place litter boxes in closets or behind doors.

Type of Litter Box Can Play a Role in Litter Box Issues

Another issue to consider is the type of litter box that you are using. Many cats do not like the motorized litter boxes and the noise scares them. Covered litter boxes are preferred by humans, but not by RagaMuffin kittens or RagaMuffin cats. The covered litter boxes trap odors and since RagaMuffin kittens and RagaMuffin cats, and every other breed of cat, have a heightened sense of smell, they usually prefer litter boxes with no cover.

In addition, a RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat is more likely to feel trapped in a covered litter box. You must also consider the size of the litter box. You need large, uncovered boxes. Ideally, the litter box should be one and a half times the length of your RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat. A storage container is an ideal solution for a litter box that is less expensive than the litter boxes sold in pet stores. You can purchase storage containers with higher sides, so litter scatter is reduced. Clear storage containers are ideal because your RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat can see outside the container.  This will help them feel that they cannot be trapped by another member of the feline family.

Make Sure to Clean any Soiled Areas Properly

If an area that has been previously soiled is not cleaned properly, it is likely that your RagaMuffin kittens or RagaMuffin cats will return to that area and urinate. You must clean the area with a good enzyme cleaner and let it dry naturally. It may take several applications to get the odor out and it often takes weeks to be effective.  See the page that deals in-depth with the removal of urine stains and odor for more assistance with this issue.

Determine if There are Conflicts Among Your Cats

Sometimes conflicts among cats in a household will result in stress and consequently result in litter box issues. The conflict may also result in one or more cats feeling the instinct to “mark” their territory.  Some solutions are to make sure there is enough space in your home for each of your RagaMuffin kittens and RagaMuffin cats to have their own “territory.” Cat trees and cat shelves can help in this regard.

In addition, if there is a conflict between two RagaMuffin kittens or RagaMuffin cats, take the time to reintroduce the RagaMuffin kittens or RagaMuffin cats.  The reintroduction can do wonders. Separate the cats so that one cat is in a separate room. Alternate the RagaMuffin kitten or RagaMuffin cat that is in the separate room. Initially, let them smell each other under the door, just as if you were introducing them for the first time. After about a week, put a gate in the doorway and feed the RagaMuffin kittens or RagaMuffin cats on either side of the doorway. Do this for about a week and then take the gate away and feed each cat on either side of the doorway. Also, give each of them a favorite treat on either side of the doorway. Do not let the RagaMuffin kittens or RagaMuffin cats together without supervision at this time. After feeding and giving treats with no gate for about a week or two, use a teaser and play with the RagaMuffin kittens or RagaMuffin cats together, making sure that each cat has equal playtime with the teaser. These tips can do wonders in making friends out of former enemies.

Other Tips

Check out our other cat tips on some things you can try regarding behavior modification with your kittens and cats.  There are tips on how to keep your kitty away from places (like countertops) that you do not want them to go, as well as working with your kitty regarding inappropriate scratching.