VCA Animal Hospitals

Why Does My Cat... Not Use the Litterbox?

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Litterbox issues are a big concern for many cat owners. Indoor cats, after all, must go somewhere. And when a cat starts peeing or pooping outside his litterbox, it's something that must be addressed. 

Here are some of the causes:

  1. There's a medical problem. Your cat may be dealing with a urinary or gastrointestinal condition or some other illness, including kidney disease, thyroid disease or diabetes. It's best to schedule an appointment with a vet to rule out any medical issues.
  2. There's been a major, stressful change in her routine, such as a new baby in the house (human or animal!), a move, a vacation, etc.
  3. There's been a seemingly minor change that's stressed her out, including moving her litterbox or using a new type of litter. Even changing the average depth of the litter in the box can upset a cat and cause her to pee or poo somewhere else.
  4. There's a hygiene problem. Cats can be fastidious. If the litterbox isn't cleaned often enough, some cats will choose to go elsewhere.
  5. There's a crowding problem. Some cats simply don’t like to share, and if there are too many cats using the litterbox, they'll find someplace else. 
  6. There's a safety problem. Many litterboxes are covered or in a small space, and cats can become afraid of an ambush by aggressor cats in the household when they find themselves trapped in tight spots.
  7. He's simply found a place he likes better.

These are just a few of the typical issues, but there are many more possible reasons. And since health-related issues can play such a large role, ruling out medical causes is strongly recommended as a first line of defense.

For more help and information, check out other Vetstreet articles on litterbox issues.

This article was written by a Veterinarian.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.