Cat Stopped Using the Litter Box? Here’s 7 Common Reasons & 10 Solutions

by Monika
Cat stopped using the litter box

Did your cat stop using the litter box? Is kitty turning your apartment into a giant bathroom? Or maybe they are always peeing in one dedicated place which, unfortunately, is not the Princess’ potty?

There are many reasons why this sudden change in behavior can happen. Luckily, most of them are pretty easy to solve once you know what your cat wants when it comes to a kitty toilet.

Here are 7 potential reasons why your cat is no longer using the litter box as intended and solutions for each of them. Stick around, and I’ll give you 3 additional tips for motivating your cat to use the kitty toilet.

Potential reasons why your cat stopped using the litter box plus a few solutions

Health issues

Urinating in various places can be a symptom of health problems including:

  • bladder infection
  • urinary tract infection
  • kidney issues
  • crystals in the penis
  • diabetes
Solution: Check with the vet first

If your cat has started this behavior recently, after being completely litter-trained, it is best to check with the vet to make sure your cat is healthy.

If you see any blood in your cat’s pee, rush to the vet as soon as you can because it is obviously something serious.

Territorial issues: “No one can pee where I pee!”

Cats can get pretty territorial with their toilets! Some cats don’t like to share their litter box with other cats because they want to mark their own territory where no cat has peed before.

Solution: Have more boxes than kitties

The solution for this is quite easy. Simply add another litter box so that each cat can have their own. Or even better, and this is recommended by vets, have 1 litter box more than the number of cats in the house. So, if you have 2 cats, you should have 3 litter boxes.

The litter is not cat-approved

Your cat might not approve of the litter you’re using for their kitty toilet.

  • Is the litter dusty?
  • Are the granules too large and uncomfortable under your cat’s feet?
  • Is the litter sticking to your cat’s paws?

All of these are reasons why your cat might start avoiding the litter box. If you recently changed the litter brand, your cat might not like it.

If your cat is declawed, then the type of litter you use may be hurting them. Declawed cats suffer from paw problems because of damage from this kind of surgery.

Solution: Try different litter types and brands

Try a different type of litter. Most cats like soft litter so it might be the best option for your cat. Look for non-dusty litter that doesn’t stick to your cat’s paws. Try different products, and hopefully one of those will be kitty-approved.

I know that many people have had good experience with Dr. Elsey’s Cat Litter so it might be worth a shot.

The type or the size of the litter box is not right

The litter box that you’re using might be too small so you cat is having a hard time using it. Or, perhaps, the entrance of the box may be difficult for the cat to use. This is especially true of felines that suffer from arthritis or hip issues, which makes it harder to enter and exit the litter box.

Solution: Try another box

If this is the case with your cat, there is no other solution than to try using a different litter box.

So, make sure the new box:

  • has an easy entrance
  • is big enough for your cat

And make sure to place the box away from the food bowls. Hygiene is very important to cats and they don’t want their waste near their food, just like humans.

Hygiene is not up to kitty’s high standards

How often do you scoop the litter box?

How often do you change the litter?

Your cat might not be satisfied with the level of cleanliness when it comes to their kitty toilet and they will show you that by not using it.

Which products do you use to clean the box?

If you use bleach or a cleaning agent with a citrus smell, you’ll have to wash it off really well so the smell completely disappears. Remember, your cat has a much better sense of smell than you do. Just because you don’t smell a particular odor doesn’t mean that scent doesn’t bother them.

Solution: Scoop more, clean more

You might be scooping once a day, but if your cat doesn’t feel it’s enough, you’ll have to do it more often. If you can, try scooping as soon as the cat uses the box or at least twice a day.

Regularly change the litter, though the time will vary depending on the litter you’re using.

If the box is scratched, it can start smelling bad to cats because scratches trap odors. In this case, get a new litter box.

When you’re washing the Princess’ potty, use a mild odorless cleaning agent that won’t annoy your cat.

Privacy issues: “Don’t look at me while I pee and poop!”

Where is your cat’s toilet located?

Some cats don’t like to feel exposed while they’re attempting to ‘do their business.’ Placing your cat’s bathroom zone in rooms like the living room and other areas that see a lot of people passing through can stop your cat from using the potty. Your cat might not be thrilled about the location of the kitty bathroom zone and is protesting by peeing around the house.

Solution: Put the litter box in a quiet, private place with low traffic
  • Try the guest room, or if you don’t have a large apartment, bathroom might be a good choice.
  • Another option to consider is hiding the litter box in a closet in the hallway.
  • If you have trouble finding a good place for the litter box in a small apartment, you can use a curtain or some kind of cover to make it more private.
  • The potty must always be easily accessible to your cat, so don’t put it somewhere too complicated for your cat to get to.

Kitty stress

It can be hard to detect when your cat is stressed. Even if they don’t seem different than usual, they might be under a lot of stress. Sometimes, that anxiety will manifest by peeing all over the place.

  • Have you made any bigger changes that might have affected your cat?
  • Have you moved the furniture?
  • Did you get another cat?
  • Is your cat being bullied by another cat?
  • Did someone move in with you?
  • Any other change that might be minor to you but stressful for your cat?
Solution: Extra attention, cuddles, and entertainment

If you suspect it could be stress, try giving your cat some extra attention. Additionally, make sure they have plenty of things to entertain themselves, in case they are stressed from being bored.

There are some very effective cat sprays on the market such as Feliway and Pet Remedy, that work to calm and relax your kitty.

Other possible solutions and tricks to get your kitty to use the litter box

If your cat is peeing in only one place in the house instead of a box, put the potty in that exact location. Your feline might simply like that location, for whatever reason. At least now, they’ll continue peeing there, though hopefully, they’ll do so in the kitty litter instead of the floor.

Mix vinegar with water and spray it in the places where your cat pees. Cats don’t like vinegar which makes this solution an effective way to keep your cat from peeing there.

Add some Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract mixture to the litter to motivate the cat to use the feline restroom.  Many cat owners have had a positive experience with this product.

I hope these tips will help you tackle this problem and that your cat will start using the box in no time!

Let me know how it goes in the comments section!

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Sharlene October 22, 2020 - 2:41 am

I read about the cat urinating in different places. Fortunately my cat is not urinating but pooping on the floor. She never pees only poops. I am trying to figure out why. I have never encountered this before. Looking for advice on how to fix the situation without having to get rid of her. She still eats and drinks. She does still use the litter box to pee. She poops in 2 specific spots in the kitchen. In desperate need of advice

Monika October 22, 2020 - 11:04 am

I would try introducing a second litter box, also try to change the litter brand in case that might be the problem. If that doesn’t work, maybe spray a bit of citrus scent to the places where she usually poops, to deter her from those places. Good luck!


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