20 answers

10 Year Old Cat Suddenly Stopped Using the Litter Box

We got this 5 month old cat 10 years ago and she has never had an accident until now. At the beginning of the summer we went out of town for a week and came back to poop and pee all over the house. I thought she was stressed about us gone, but it's been months and she still does it. We had her checked by a vet and after $80 in tests, he says she doesn't have a urinary tract infection and there's nothing wrong with her medically. I asked the vet if she could be going senile because of her age and the vet said that isn't likely because she is only 10 and could live another 6-7 years. We didn't change her litter brand, the box location, the cleaning method, her food, etc. She will walk right past the litter box and pee somewhere else - even the doorway of the room the box is in. I have tried cleaning the area she peed and closing it off to her, but she just picks several new ones. I know that there are sprays out there, but we have a big house and I can't cover the entire house with spray. She can't move outdoors because she has been declawed. If I lock her in a room she howls all night and keeps us awake. We have four children who know we signed a contract with the animal shelter to keep her to the end of her life and so I can't give her away on principle. My oldest daughter has already asked if we will have her put down if she doesn't stop. I am absolutely resenting having this cat. Any recommendations?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks, Jenna, for the suggestion. I am going to try and retrain her. The irony is I just finished potty training our youngest child in May, had the carpets cleaned, and was congratulating myself on never having to deal with others' poop and pee again. Boy, was I wrong! I think this cat has had more accidents this summer than all four of my children put together.

Featured Answers

Just thought I'd add that I had some bad litter box problems with my cats, and I called the ARL to talk to a cat behaviorlist. She gave me some really good ideas. She also said that vets are often not trained to deal with behavior issues and that almost all litter box issues can be resolved with some work by the caretaker.

I was at wits end, and now we have very few accidents (after months of pee/poop outside the boxes).

Feel free to message me if you want more info., but it's definately worth a call to the ARL:)

I had a similar problem a couple of times. The first I retrained my cat to use the box and that means putting the cat in the litter box every 45 min for almost two weeks. I had help from everyone in the house so it was probably more often at times. The second time different cat. She had areas that she repeatably hit and so a temp litter box went in each area. She got a treat when she did right and slowly removed each litter box and showed her each time where the permanent one was. She was good for awhile then it started all over.Next I cut her off from most of the house. She was limited to people contact because of this and after a couple of weeks it seemed to work. I did eventually have to put her down for the same reason by she was 18 yrs by then.

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Something happened when you were gone, that's for sure. Not having that litter changed the entire time did a number on your kitty. I don't have any idea, other than don't use vinegar to clean the spots, it smells just like cat pee to them (and me). Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Just a thought here, do you clean the litter box with a cleaner? Maybe the cat doesn't like the smell of the cleaner, if used it and then went to go lick it's paws, she probably wouldn't like it and that would keep her from using it again.

I wish I could give you advice but I have had the same problem with my cat. I will keep reading the responses to your post. good luck

Sadly I have no suggestions for you but I wanted to let you know that my vet said once a cat starts peeing everywhere he or she will not stop so you either have to put up with it or put the cat down. He also said that the lifespan of cats is 12 to 15 years so it may just be that your cat is reaching old age and her brain just isn't the same. We have a male cat who pees in random places supposedly due to having "possible reoccurring urinary tract infections" (read: the vet had no idea why he pees) and there is nothing to be done to prevent it. Good luck! I hope you find a solution.

I strongly agree with Joanna, and I have done this with success in the past. She probably hated the dirty litter box and assumed a new habit during your absence. We did the small room, litter box, closed door procedure, too. We added another litter box in the old place, and moved the first one slightly farther away from the bathroom one - a little bit each day. It ended up being in the old spot when we were done and she was again potty trained. Good luck! We recently had our 20-yr-old cat put to sleep. By then she really WAS incontinent!

Our cat does the same thing. He is a big cat and I wonder if he doesn't fit in the litter box. It is very fustrating. We were able to put him outside most of the time. This at least cuts down on the mess. I will be interested in others suggestions.

I had a similar problem a couple of times. The first I retrained my cat to use the box and that means putting the cat in the litter box every 45 min for almost two weeks. I had help from everyone in the house so it was probably more often at times. The second time different cat. She had areas that she repeatably hit and so a temp litter box went in each area. She got a treat when she did right and slowly removed each litter box and showed her each time where the permanent one was. She was good for awhile then it started all over.Next I cut her off from most of the house. She was limited to people contact because of this and after a couple of weeks it seemed to work. I did eventually have to put her down for the same reason by she was 18 yrs by then.

sorry to say-you will not break her of this bad habit she has developed-if you piss off a cat-your doomed...i went thru this twice...finally had to put them both down...i tried everything...or take it back to the pound-tell them your issues...in cat yrs.shes 70 yrs old. now if i have to leave-i make sure someone comes an sits with them for a while..i have 6 rescues..2 birds-2 cats-2 dogs....yea they limit my life...but thats the price you pay...good luck...

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