It is very common for cats to go outside their litterboxes, and, as our collaborator has said, Daniel Filion from Cat Educator, represent a problem for which he is consulted the most in terms of cat behaviour. “75% of the people who contact us do it for this problem. Fortunately, 85% of them will solve their problem within two weeks of consulting our advice. So it’s a problem that is relatively easy to solve. Do not give up, and do not euthanize your cat if he has a problem with going outside the box.”
The medical cause
Seventy percent (70%) of litter-related problems have a medical origin. You must consult your veterinarian beforehand. Many health problems, such as problems with the urinary system, create pain when the cat goes to the washroom. In this situation, it is not uncommon for a cat to identify the litterbox as a place that hurts him and avoids it at all costs, which can cause the problem of inappropriate elimination.
Do not punish
The last thing to do is punish a cat who goes outside the box. Very often, this problem originates from a problem related to the anxiety or stress caused by something in his environment or by an individual (human or animal). So if you add the stress of punishment to your cat, the anxiety will only increase what, in turn, will only aggravate the problem of inappropriate elimination.
In previous articles, we explained in detail what to do/avoid doing. Here is a summary:
- Size of the box: large enough (one cat-and-a-half long x one cat wide)
- 360° vision: Avoid covers on the litterbox
- Number of boxes: One more than the number of cats (e.g. 2 cats = 3 litterboxes)
- Box location: Boxes put in different rooms and on different floors
- Box location: Not in the back of closets, hallways, in small rooms near noisy household appliances
- Box location: Boxes put in places where the cat can see dangers and get away should a danger occur
- Cleaning: Daily cleaning of waste
- 8 cm (3 inches) of litter in the litterbox
It is also necessary to clean places where the cat could go to the washroom outside his box, since the cat leaves pheromones, which push him to return to this place. It is essential to use enzyme-based products or those that eliminate this pheromone. A simple cleaning product that we use in our home is not enough, because it only covers the smell (according to our human sense of smell). Forget homemade recipes made with vinegar.
Prevent and consult
Cat Educator Daniel Filion says that 50% of people who apply the basic tips discussed here will solve their problems of inappropriate elimination. If this advice is not enough, do not be discouraged. Instead, consult a cat behaviour specialist. Do not wait before consulting, because the longer you wait, the longer it will take to fix the problem.
“But, beyond all that, we must not wait for problems to rectify the situation. I encourage people to apply these tips even if they do not have a problem, because very often it is not a single factor that causes the problem. Each cat has its tolerance level. For example, if you do not have the right size, the right number of litterboxes, if they are poorly positioned, and if your cat goes to the washroom out of his box when you are on vacation, it is probably the fact that you left on vacation that is the problem. Your departure is simply the problem that broke the camel’s back.”
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