38 answers

Cat Refuses to Use Litter Box

I have had my cat for 4 years now, we aren't really sure how old she is exactly. We took her in as a stray. She has always been a very good cat, never bothered my baby's or thier bottles doesn't scratch on the walls and has always used the litter box. Until about a month ago that is. Nothing had changed she just stopped using it. Now I have Scrubbed with soap and water, bought more expensive litter thinking it was dirty or she just didn't like the cheap stuff I have cleaned my carpets where she has used the restroom on them. nothing is working, has anyone else experienced this. How do I get her to stop pottying on the floor and use the litter box again? Any advice is appreciated thanks in advance

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My friend's cat was the same way. She took the cat to the vet who determined that the cat was sick. (Don't remember what it was). They put the cat on medication and started a vet recommended cat food. The food was more expensive but with the medication and the food the cat started to use the litter box again.

Take her to the vet asap. You should have them try to determine her age there too. I feel its important to know that. You can also buy disposable litter boxes at Target now. That's a great idea if the problem is funny smell. Cats are very particular. Did you know that smells hide in plastic? Cats hate that if they can still smell something that bothers them even though you have cleaned it.

Good Luck!

Take her to the vet! Suddenly stopping using the litter box is a BIG indicator that something is wrong - and probably treatable if caught early.

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I work in the veterinary field and am taking classes to get my vet tech degree. My first question is--is she spayed. I am assuming yes. I would go back to the old litter you were using before. Cats are so picky about everything. Like you said they won't use a dirty litter box, so clean it daily. Just use enough litter to cover the bottom of the box and dump it every day.(or scoop it 2-3 times a day and empty every other day) I am assuming you only have one cat. You should always have one more litter box than you have cats (1 cat, 2 litter boxes). Cats don't like some citris smells, so if you are cleaning with a citrus cleaner, that may set her off. She could possibly have a urinary tract infection. If this doens't clear up, she should be examined and have a urine sample checked. I would recommend, if this works out with your boys staying out of the boxes, put the litter box over where the cat is going on the floor now, gradually move the box like an inch over a couple days back to where you previously had it. Ideally she should go in the litter box in the spot she likes and then you can "retrain" her to keep uding the box in the previous spot. I hope this makes sense and works for you, if in doubt, I would get her to a vet. Some female cats have long term urinary problems if they start and aren't solved quickly. Good Luck!!!

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I would take her to the vet and have them see if there is a medical issue going on. Cats communicate with us the only way they know how. Kitty cannot use words so she does something to let you know "something's wrong".

If she is medically cleared by a vet then you could try products like "feliway". They offer and infuser and spray that have hormones and pharmones to help relax a stressed out cat. I haven't used them, but have talked to others who have and hear it works great.

Good luck. It is VERY stressfuly to have a kitty peeing in the house. I hope it is a simple UTI or something and with a round of antibiotics your troubles are gone.

I had a friend whose cat did this as well. He took it to the vet, received medicine - I assume for one of the issues mentioned before - and then for a period of time (when he was at work), he closed the cat in the room (bathroom) the litter box was in to insure the cat used the litter box, or at least if it didn't, it was on a tile floor & not the carpeted areas of his home. Good luck. Hopefully this bad habit will stop quickly.

Sorry to here that. I went through something similar a couple of months ago. When tidy cat introduced their tidy lock litter the particle size changed and the litter went from being softer sandy like material to larger clay like peices (not like the old fashioned type clay litter) and my cats hated it.

Don't use anything other than soap and water to clean out your litter box. A swish of vinager followed with a final rinse of water will deodorize the box. Cat's are extremely senative to smells and they will be turned off buy the chemical smells of harsher cleaners and may refuse to use the litter box as a result.

If nothing has changed, no new family members or new animals please take the cat to the vet. I had an older cat that started doing this and it turned out that something was seriously wrong with the cat. Usually it is a urinary or kidney infection. Hope this helps.

My friend's cat was the same way. She took the cat to the vet who determined that the cat was sick. (Don't remember what it was). They put the cat on medication and started a vet recommended cat food. The food was more expensive but with the medication and the food the cat started to use the litter box again.

Dear C.,

If the cat has been to the vet and there is nothing physically wrong, you have two stark choices. A non-housebroken pet isn't a pet but a problem. Choice one is to confine the cat to a very small space and only let her out to pet and play with. Choice two is to put her to sleep.

I had a friend who had two cats with that problem and he build them a multi-story cat cage. They lived the cage except when they were in the TV room being petted or outside when the weather was nice. He used to refer to them as the "Box Cats." He is getting ready to move and the Cat Cage is available for free (in Dayton, Ohio) if you have a place to set it up. It is too big to go in most houses unless you have a basement. I called and he said it is about 3' wide by 6' deep and 8'tall. It has shelves that they can climb and perch on. With a piece of vinyl on the floor it made it easy to clean. A cage doesn't have to be that elaborate or big to work.

God Bless,


I worked in the veterinary field for two years as a tech, and the first thing that came to mind is something medical. You really should take her to the vet. That is not normal and it is probally saying something. Such as a UTI, or maybe even diabetes(cats pee a LOT more with that). Or maybe for some reason she has started marking, and cleaning will not take care of the smell. I bet you even though you can't smell it anymore, she still can. If she is marking, it tends to be in the same couple spots. But there are special sprays out there(usually available through a vet), to use after you clean to neutralize odor. There are even pheramones(spelling) that you can use to assit. If she isn't spayed, there may be a male outside that she senses(their senses are strong) and this could also cause this behavior. Check it out and let us know.

This may sound crazy, but it may be a behavioral thing with your cat. I went through this with my cat too. He wouldn't use his litter box for a while. I contacted the vet, and she said it might be behavioral because a cat can sense when other cats are around and they too will mark their territory which in this case is around your house. Cats can sense other cats around even outside the other cat does not have to be around the house inside or out. The other cat could be a couple houses away, and if your cat senses it, she will start marking her territory. Also, there could be a health issue with her kidneys. If it continues, take her to the vet and have her examined. Good luck!


I am 31 and have been married for 12 yrs. My husband and I have 3 boys ages 11, almost 8 (Christmas day), and 4.

I would listen to what the vet tech student said. Also, even though she said not to change the litter, there is a litter called Cat Attract that is available at PetSmart and it's made specifically for cats who've stopped using their box. It actually contains particles of catnip to get them to come back. It worked for us initially with our cat, who ended up on Prozac for anxiety issues. It's guaranteed and it's worth a try. It's also 99% dust-free so it's a much cleaner litter than most! Good luck, this is a stressful situation for sure. I wish you the best.

My cat uses her litter box, but she seems to think
she can use my house plants as litter boxes also, I have to put moth balls in my plants to keep her out. One time
I had a basket of clean whites sitting on the floor in the
livingroom she got in that basket and peeped on the clean clothes. Needless to say I was not a very happy person. I had to of course wash them again. And my house does smell
like moth balls. Sometimes I think she does these things
because she is mad at me, maybe I don't pay enough attention to her, who knows. Maybe she doesn't like where
you have put the litter box. Maybe she has a kidney or bladder infection. That's what someone suggested to me
when she was doing all that stuff. I didn't take her to the
vet so I don't know if that was really the problem or not.
The moth balls do keep her out of my plants though. I'd rather smell the moth balls, than the pee. I hope you get
things worked out.


The cat may have a urinary track infection. You will probably need antibiotics from your vet. But definitely switch the cat's water (permanently) to distilled bottled water, as it has no minerals in it to irritate the urinary track. I have an older cat who had the same problem & now she is fine.

Take her to the vet asap. Sudden behavior changes are indicative of health problems. She have a uti, or she may have developed crystals in her urinary tract, making it painful and almost uncontrollable for her to go potty.
An excellent vet is Dr. Imperial at Docton Animal Clinic in Xenia. He's well worth the drive and $$. Good luck!

Besides taking her to the vet as other moms have suggested I would also add that I read on a web site about problem cats is that no matter how much you clean the box it could still have a bad smell to the cat so you may have to buy a new box--esp. if she does have an infection it could make her urine smell bad (to her at least) so it may have changed the smell in the plastic box. I had to buy new boxes for my cat and I also cleaned up the urine spots with nature's miracle as others suggested where he had been going. I have 2 boxes for my picky cat--he uses one for pee and one for poop! What we put up with for our cat babies LOL

Our cat had that problem a few years ago, and it was a urinary tract infection. The vet treated him, even kept him overnight, then he had us start using a special prescription food that we can only get from the vet. But it has worked, he has had no problems since. The food is kind of expensive, like $40, but it is for a huge bag and lasts a long time. Besides, it is worth it to have him using his litter box again! They told us UTIs are more common in males, so if you have a male, that is probably what it is. Good luck!

I would take her to the vet. If nothing has really changed that would stress her about using the litter box then there may be a physical reason for her to stop using it. One of my cats did that when he had crystals in his urine, the vet gave him some pills and we switched food and he is fine now.

Take her to the vet asap. You should have them try to determine her age there too. I feel its important to know that. You can also buy disposable litter boxes at Target now. That's a great idea if the problem is funny smell. Cats are very particular. Did you know that smells hide in plastic? Cats hate that if they can still smell something that bothers them even though you have cleaned it.

Good Luck!

Hi C.,
I feel your pain. Our 12 yo Siamese, Savannah, has marked in corners for years. I was totally at the end of my rope last summer when we had to tear out our living room floors even down to the plywood in some areas! Believe it or not-she is doing well now. I found three things that help-
1. CAT ATTRACT cat litter! You can get it at Petsmart. It is a little more expensive, but well worth it. It has something in it that makes them want to use it-and they give you a 100% guarantee.
2.Cats hate citrus. We put paper plates of lemon slices in our corners and she won't go near them. Looks a little funny, but whatever works.
3. Emro Odor Eliminator for accidents-this stuff is the best I've ever found and breaks down the source of all odors. (Unless something is soaked deep down like our previous carpet was! Then it has to go...) Here's the website-
I hope this helps-good luck!

Have you taken your cat to the vet? She may have a kidney or uninary infection. If she is physically ok, I'd put her outside as long as it is relatively safe

Perhaps the litter box needs moved to a different area of the house. Often cats do not like the litter box and their food in the same room. My kitty didn't use to go in the box if it was dirty and she would go beside it. I used to sprinkle baking soda on top of the litter each time I changed it. I also put an air purifier near the cat litter box to make the room smell better.

I would take your cat to the vet. Sometimes dramatic changes in behavior are a sign of illness. Cats are very good at hiding illness; but, will change behaviors when they are ill. My first cat ever began using the dining room rug right before he died of kidney failure 10 years ago. My five-year old cat was fastidious about his litter box until this fall, when he started carrying dried #2 upstairs and leaving it on our landing. We didn't even know it was him until later. One day he was fine and running around and the next day he had anemia and was hospitalized. He lived two more weeks and died of cancer. We should have paid more attention to the behavior than we did and we might have been able to help him. I hope your kitty is fine.

Take her to the vet! Suddenly stopping using the litter box is a BIG indicator that something is wrong - and probably treatable if caught early.

Hello C....
My SIL had the exact same problem...nothing had changed but all of a sudden the carpet was the litterbox of choice! But for her, it was only poo and no urine. Cats will often do these things if they begin to associate pain or discomfort with the litterbox...meaning there could be something wrong in her GI tract or a urinary tract problem. I'd make sure she gets an appointment at the doctor.
As for my SIL, the only thing that worked, after her vet appointment came up okay, was for her to have a completely clean litterbox to use every time. That meant investing in the Littermaid!!! Best of luck to you.


your cat may have a bladder infection. You may want to take her to a vet. and have her urine tested.

I got a cat that had never used a litter box. AARRGGHH. I finally tossed it outside. Eventually I let it back in a little at a time. The last time she crapped i put her nose in it and put her out that was more than 1 month ago, now she uses the litter box and is welcome in the house anytime.

I would take her to the vet just to make sure she's not sick...

My sisters cat did that too. Poor thing had a UTI and couldn't hold it in. I'd take it to the vet. Good luck!

Have you taken your cat to the vet and had her checked out? I recently lost my cat to illness and the first thing he did when he started getting sick was pottying on the floor instead of the litterbox. I too changed the litter brand, bought a new box, etc. before I realized he was sick. Also, you said nothing has changed in your house, but it could be a jealousy issue with your kids. Cats are funny, little things that we don't notice often bother them.

I hope this helps you to solve the problem.

Your cat sounds like she is ill, take her to the vet he will figure it out in no time.My old cat started doing this as he progressively got stiff old leg muscles, I found a shorter litter box and he used it just fine.He also had a slight UTI and that is what started it all.Antibiotics and a lot of understanding and love will help as well.But pleae have her checked.I lost two cats this year Smokey was 22 1/2 years old, and Max was only about 12 and his liver shut down on him because he was overweight and when he started loosing weight his liver couldn't handle it all. He had a tumor removed from his back 3 months before and was like a little kitten again running and playing and then boom in two days he just went down hill and was hiding, I took him straight to the vet , sadly it was too late for Max.

Since you're unsure of your kitty's age, you might want to take her to the vet to make sure she's OK. She could be in the early stages of renal disease (very common in cats, and absolutely treatable through diet), or she might have any of a number of physical issues that would explain her behavior. Once the underlying problem is solved, the behavior will be solved too.

I agree with the others who have mentioned a UTI. Please don't think that a UTI is a minor thing. In some cases, by the time you see the symptoms, the cat's life can be in danger.

Another possible problem is a chronic form of cystitis. If that is the culprit, the vet can prescribe medication to keep it under control.

I've heard great things about a litter called Cat Attract. It's scented to lure cats back to the litter box so they will begin using the box appropriately again. I'm pretty sure you can buy it at Complete Petmart and other pet supply stores. If you can't find it, just Google the product name and look for a retailer in your area.

Has anything in your cat's life changed recently? If this is an emotional issue, a little bit of Bach's Rescue Remedy (a naturopathic remedy that works for people too) can work wonders in helping her to deal with stress. Again, a Google search of "Bach's Rescue Remedy + cats" should give you a good indication of dosing for cats. Another good one is Calms Forte tablets, which can be crushed up and put in a treat, like braunschweiger (which kitties love!)

Make sure the litter box is a good distance away from her food dishes. The old saying, "Don't eat whee you...ahem...poop" is true. Cats don't want their food or water source to be near the box.

I'm obviously a cat lover, and I hope you'll be able to find a simple solution to the problem soon. There are too many homeless cats out there, and yours is so lucky to have a good, loving forever home!

Good luck!

Hi C.! I have cats as well, and have also grown up with them, and I think chances are really high that there is either a kidney or bladder infection. That was the only time my cat ever went outside the litter box. Take her to the vet and get her checked. That's the only way you will find out. They will put her on an antibiotic and she will be good to go. Get her fixed before it becomes a habit of not using the litter box. One of the things I noticed with my cat is that she she squatted to pee, only a tiny bit (maybe a teaspoon or less) would come out. That could very well be your answer! I wish you the best of luck and a fabulous Christmas!!

have you taken her to see the vet yet?

Our cat had been doing the same thing and turned out she had a major bladder/urinary tract infection and the vet thought that maybe she was associating the litter box as hurting and that's why she wouldn't use it....after a round of kitty antibiotics, she stopped.


Have you taken her to the vet yet? I have a cat and the only times she doesn't use her litter box are when I've gone too long between cleaning or if she has a UTI. Sounds like you've given her a clean litter box so I'd check into the UTI. Good Luck!

Have her checked for a UTI. Most times when cats stop using the litter box it means they just can't make it.

Also, you'll need to clean the old urine spots with an enzyme cleaner like Nature's Miracle (they sell it at Pet Supplies Plus and PetSmart). To a cat, if it smells like a potty, it is a potty.

Good luck.

Since you don't know the age of your cat it is very likely that she has reached old age and can no longer get around the same way as before. Is she moving more slowly or showing other signs of old age? She could also be having bladder issues, a bladder infection of some type.

When in doubt, take her to a vet.

Good luck.

Sounds like I have basically the same advice... our cat had a terrible UTI. The first time, we didn't treat it for a while and it got worse and worse. We didn't realize he was sick until I walked into the kitchen one morning and he was laying on the floor in a puddle of his own urine and blood. The vet didn't think he would survive and the treatment was quite expensive. The second time it started to happen we took him immediately to the vet. They cleared the infection quickly with an antibiotic but recommended changing his food. They thought his system was not properly breaking down the stuff we were giving him.
Good luck with getting the kitty better. I know how frustrating the smell can be!

There are plug-ins that you can buy from the vet that emit pheremones. This is supposed to help the cat. It has worked for everyone I know that has used them. Good Luck!

Hey C.,
After you take her to the vet and in case it turns out to NOT be a urinary tract infection or something else physically wrong with kitty, then how I've dealt with peeing outside the box (we've rescued 4 cats, all different ages, all have had their issues). First, after using a clean-up that guarantees removal of animal urine odor, put a litter box in the space that kitty keeps peeing. Eventually, if kitty begins using the newly positioned box, you can slowly migrate it to an area you prefer it stay. As you move it, you may have to put something in the area where the box was to keep her out of it. You can also put tin foil in other areas where kitty pees, most cats don't like the feeling of foil on their paws. I put it on top of the dirt in my indoor flower pots and they stay out of the dirt/flowers--outside I'll sprinkle cayenne pepper (lil bits) all over the dirt, they WON'T use it as a personal toilet ever again and with lil bits of cayenne, they won't be hurt, just really annoyed.

K, more advice than you needed.. Goodluck and get kitty to a vet, urinary tract infections are bad news but not as bad as other issues it may be having.


It sounds to me as if your cat may have an urinary trach infection. You'll have to take her to the Vet, and have her checked out. I have a cat that has done this, and that was her diagnosis. It can be cleared up with antibiotics.

B. D

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