Why Is My Cat Shunning Her Litterbox?

Has your cat seemingly given up on her litterbox, choosing instead to eliminate on your carpets or floors? It’s not uncommon—in fact, about one in every 10 cats will develop some sort of litterbox aversion at one point or another! Here, your Denville, NJ vet tells you about some of the most common reasons your cat may be doing this, and how to go about fixing the problem.


The number one reason that cats decide to avoid their litterbox is cleanliness. Cats, much like you, don’t like using a dirty bathroom! If you don’t scoop out your cat’s waste enough, she may decide to stop using her box entirely. It’s recommended that you scoop out your cat’s box on a daily basis, adding a bit of fresh litter to replace that which you’ve removed, and change the litter about once a week to keep things as clean as possible.

Box Placement

Did you know that cats can be very finicky about where their bathroom is located? There are a few rules of thumb to follow that should keep your feline friend happy, though.

First, don’t put the litterbox too close to your cat’s food and water dishes. Cats prefer to keep these areas separated—who can blame them? Secondly, make sure your cat’s box is located in a quiet, out-of-the-way space where she won’t be disturbed by humans or other pets in the house. Last but not least, make sure that your cat’s litterbox is accessible to her at all times, even when you’re not at home. If a sliding door or screen door prevents your pet’s access, she’ll be forced to use the bathroom elsewhere.

Litter Preference

There is a wide variety of litter out there to choose from, and different cats like different types. While most of our feline friends will do well with a medium-grain clumping litter, you may have to experiment a bit to find a version that your cat likes. There are fine litters, large-granule litters, different scented litters, clumping and non-clumping litters… ask your veterinarian for help choosing one that your cat might prefer.

Negative Conditioning

If a cat was frightened early on in life while using the litterbox, she may have an aversion to it now. Consult your vet or a professional animal behaviorist for help.

Does your cat need a veterinary exam? Contact your Denville, NJ pet clinic right away.

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