If you have a cat that does not its litter, you may be in for some house soiling problems.  The following is a list of reasons why a cat may develop a dislike to the litter box:

  • The litter is not clean enough
  • The cat has learned to associate the litter with something unpleasant.  This could be pain due to a urinary or intestinal problem, or even from being caught and given medication there, another cat may have cornered he or she or there may be offensive odors coming from deodorizers or cleansers
  • An aversion to the feel of the litter material
  • A plastic litter box liner is being used and the cat catches its claws on it when trying to dig
  • Too much or too little litter in the box
  • A few cats dislike the litter box if it is too clean

The following is a list of signs of cat litter aversion:

  • Cat avoids the litter box altogether
  • Cat uses the litter box, but scratches at the sides of the box, on the floor, or other objects nearby “instead of in the litter.”
  • Cat uses litter, but shakes paws a lot during and after use
  • Cat does not dig in the litter before eliminating
  • Cat straddles the litter box (cat puts feet up on the edge of the box to avoid touching the litter)
  • Cat uses the box, but jumps out of box quickly
  • Cat meows at the litter box
  • Cat starts to urinate in the box, then stands and deposits the urine outside the box


  • Be sure the litter is being kept clean and it is not a deodorized one.  Some cats do not like litter with a scent.
  • A cleansing product might be the culprit.  Try using just very hot water to clean the box
  • Don’t use plastic liners
  • Try different types of litter.  Use the different litter for 7 to 10 days to find the right one.  You can also put different kinds of litter in several boxes and see which one the cat uses.
  • Always make changes slowly.  I recently put litter in an empty box.  I didn’t move the box, just added litter and moved the broom I was storing behind the box.  All three cats seemed to be on edge about what was happening.  They went to the regular box, then to this new box.  Diamond, my youngest cat, made some sounds as if she was crying a bit.  It took a good hour for them all to settle back down.  The next day, none of the cats had used the extra box, and there were no feces anywhere but in the original box.  They all three had been using the same box, but the day I added the second box, I found some feces in different areas.  I just recently added Diamond, so I assumed someone decided there were too many using one box.  I have noticed they all scratch around on the sides, but none jump out extremely quickly, and all have been using it up to this point.   I am a firm believer our animals understand “some” of our language, so I told them all this was very “bad.”  Taz looked at me with a worried look, and I honestly think Diamond thought she was in real big trouble.  Fairy was the coolest cat of all, but was alarmed by the extra box addition and the moving of the broom.  Diamond went repeatedly to the broom and sniffed at it.  The day I added the box, their original box was extra full of feces.  I usually scoop several times a day, but had not that day, so I am hoping it was just an extra dirty box and whoever did it elsewhere maybe figured the box was too full for them to do their business. 
  • Some cats do prefer to have two boxes, one for urine and one for feces

 Disclaimer:  The information in this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any kind of health problem in your cat.  You should always consult with a trusted veterinarian for all health problems.

Source:  The Winn Feline Foundation Online


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