Feline Inappropriate Elimination

by DFS-Pet-Blog on March 3, 2010

Not again!
Why does my cat not use the litter box anymore?
The smell! The mess! This has to stop!


Sound familiar? Inappropriate elimination is a fairly common reason why cats and their owners visit the veterinarian. It is also one of the leading reasons why cats are surrendered to animal shelters or euthanized.

It’s a big deal! Cats are wonderful household companions that enrich our lives. Their personalities and behaviors add value and joy to us. However, when our feline friends decide to eliminate in our homes, outside the litter box, that relationship can be strained.

Something’s wrong. Why would a cat decide to not use the litter box? There are several possibilities:

    Litter Box Change

  • Medical issues that make elimination painful.
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Digestive disorders
    • Orthopedic problems (that make elimination painful)
  • Stress
    • Moving
    • New family member(s)
  • Litter and Litter box issues
    • The size or shape of the litter box
    • The location of the litter box
    • The number of litter boxes available
    • The type of litter in the litter box?
    • The depth of litter in the box


There may be a logical reason why your cat has stopped using the litter box. However, there may not be any logic to it!

Here are some tips to help with litter box issues:

  • Have your cat examined by your veterinarian
  • Reduce stressors
  • Make sure there is at least one more litter box than the number of cats in the home
  • Experiment with different types of litter
  • Experiment with the depth of litter in the box
  • Clean and deodorize the area where your cat urinated or defecated outside the litter box
  • Clean the litter boxes at least once a day

Please see this article on feline inappropriate elimination for more tips.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie Ramba March 3, 2010 at 9:39 am

I have two sister cats, Angel and Autumn. I was very concerned when Autumn started peeing in other places than her cat box. I couldn’t understand because I keep their box pristine and it is in a good location. The vet could find nothing wrong and her urine sample was also fine. I had read online how many cats do not like a covered cat box and decided to purchase an additional box that was sleigh shaped with no cover. Both cats took to the new box immediately and the other box with the cover was untouched! I removed the cover from the other box and my cats started using both boxes. That was the answer to my problem and since then – no inappropriate peeing!

babz March 4, 2010 at 1:41 am

You forgot to mention that declawing is one of the main reasons why cats stop using their litter boxes! The trauma of scratching in cat litter with sore stumps stays with a cat long after the stumps have healed over and the association of pain with using the litter box may, and has ,lead to cats abandining previously well used litter boxes in favour or softer area where scratching doesn’t hurt the remainder of their toes. Similarly if, when, either claw regrowth, left over shards of bone or arthritis due to the cat walking unnaturally affect the paws the cat often finds it painful to use a litter box and resorts to soft furnishing or carpets around the house. If you have a declawed cat that startts to reject the litter box then as well as the above examinations you should also have her paws examined by a non-declawing vet to find out if there is any new damage there causing the cat pain.

chris March 11, 2010 at 5:31 pm

if a cat has earmites in one ear , isn’t it likely to spread to the other ?

Dr. Scott A. McKay March 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Dear Chris, If you discover ear mites (otodectes cyanotis) in one ear of your cat it is very likely that the other ear will be infested as well. In addition, this mite is highly contagious between animals (cats and dogs in particular). If you discover ear mites in your cat you will need to treat all cats/pets in your home. Fortunately they don’t like us and they don’t live very long off the animal. Otitis externa (outer ear infection) can be caused by: mites, bacteria, yeast or a combination of all three. An accurate diagnosis is critical to accurate treatment. Please consult your veterinarian.
Below is a link to an informative article on ear mites:

Best of luck!

litter box furniture August 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm

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