I have two male cats who are litter mates. They are now about a year old and since we got them when they were around 4 months, they have used the little box without any problems. Recently they have stopped using the litter box altogether and prefer open drawers, laundry baskets, and under the bed.
We had another cat, an older male who passed away last week. While he was sick I put a second litter box on the main floor of the house because he was too weak to go up and down the stairs. When he passed I went back to just having the one box in the basement.
I don't know if they're missing the other cat? Or mad that I took away the convenience of a litter box on the main floor? I'm thinking it's not health related because they're both doing it. I love them dearly, but it's making me crazy. Help!
By Stacey from Long Island, NY
If you haven't already, get these boys neutered immediately! The rest of this post assumes that they are already neutered.
The main reason a cat stops using his litterbox is stress. It was doubtless stressful to lose the companion. It is also stressful to lose a litterbox. Bring back the litterbox! (If you've changed the type of litter, or are using scented litter, go back to the old kind.) It sounds like it could be an easy solution.
Use enzymatic cleaner to remove the urine scent of anywhere else they've peed, so they don't think about repeating the act. You should have a litterbox for each cat, plus one, in your home.
The litterbox needs to be scooped daily; a dirty litterbox repels a pristine cat. Maybe something has scared them in the basement, too, that makes them fear the litterbox. Could it be next to a scary furnace, washing machine, or dryer that may have come on while using the box?
Don't scold them for messing inappropriately. That can bring on a new load of issues. You should still take them into the vet to ensure that this isn't a medical issue, while you institute the changes above.
I worked at a vet clinic for two years, and a common reason is that the cat has a urinary tract infection. The pain associated with the litter-box leads them to pee everywhere else. It may be a pain for you to clean, but imagine how painful they may find it if this is the cause. You should have them checked.
Otherwise, I am assuming they are neutered, but that would also solve a problem if they are not. They may also be trying to cover the smell of something else, reclaim their territory. Check the UTI first. Neuter, if you have not already. Then clean all areas thoroughly. (06/29/2010)
We adopted an older cat (neutered) who stopped using the litter box especially for bowel movements. I was told he needed to be "retrained". We put him in a confined area with his litter box until he used it regularly. It was not long (less than a week). (06/29/2010)
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