Why Would Our Cat Stop Using Her Cat Box After 12 Perfect Years?!?

Updated on March 29, 2008
K.G. asks from Carnation, WA
11 answers

Weird request, I know. We have had our cat forever and she is in apparent good health. Eats, drinks...all normal for her. Her cat box has been in the same room (utility). The first time she had an "accident", I thought somebody accidentily shut the door at night. She peed under kitchen table. The second time, I thought the same thing that she had gotten shut in my son's room. Then she actually peed in the utility room within a couple feet of her box! Since, she has done #1 and #2 in several locations in the house. If my husband knew how many, we probably wouldn't have a cat any longer.

I know these are not "accidents" because she still "hides" or selects discreet locations. What the heck?!? I have a two year old so the box needs to stay off his radar. Any ideas?

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So What Happened?

Well, it is still early but I haven't had to clean up anything in over a week. I started keeping her in the utility room where her box is at night when most of the problems were occurring. The first 2 nights I had little messes to clean up but then she has been batting a thousand since. I still can't figure out what her problem was but I will be sure to take her in if she starts up again. She still seems completely healthy otherwise... Mystery cat mental illness? Older cat senility? Thanks for your thoughts!

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answers from Seattle on

My mother-in-law had a similar problem - and no obvious change like a new baby. Her vet ruled out the physical problems suggested by others, and suggested the anti-depressant drugs. I don't know about the cost, but after about 6 months on "kitty prozac" they weaned him off the medication & his accidents stopped.

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answers from Seattle on

Have you taken your cat to the vet to rule out crystals in the urine or other medical problems. We had that problem with our cat as he got older and discovered there was a medical reason for it. Also, are you spending less time playing and petting the cat? Sometimes, they will do those things to try and get attention, just like a toddler.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Take her to the Vet and have her blood tested for thyroid disorders...it is VERY common in older cats (12 is older), especially females. If that is the problem, a pill twice day is all she needs to correct. Mine were on the pills for 5 years before having other problems.

Unfortunately, the other thing I suggest they test for is kidney function (looking for renal failure). Sadly, one of my two died in October of renal failure, and the other is on her way as I type. Granted, she is going to be 17 in April, so has lived a long and happy life. If it is renal failure, and you want to try to keep her a while longer, putting her box in a more open area helps. For some reason they don't like to go in enclosed spaces with this problem. Also, she would be peeing copiously, so you need to change the litter a lot more often (they won't step in their own pee).

Note - the two disorders can have similar symptoms, so do get her checked for both.

Hope that helps, good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Have you taken your cat to see the vet yet? It could possibly be a urinary tract infection. I know cats will sometimes stop using the litter box when this happens. Hopefully it is something you can easily cure.

We had a cat that started doing the same thing when he was about 10 years old. We tried various cleaners to remove the urine stains/smell and eventually ended up ripping out the carpet. He would not stop. There was seemingly no reason for him to begin doing this. Nothing in our household had changed. I eventually took him to the vet to make sure it wasn't a urinary tract infection, but he was physically as healthy as a horse. The vet basically told me that our cat needed to be put on antidepressants which may or may not work. We loved our cat, but the cost of doing this would have been ridiculous. Unfortunately, in our situation, we decided the best solution was to put him down. Hopefully your kitty has a physical ailment that can be easily cured--not insanity like ours!



answers from Seattle on

The first thing I'd do is to take the cat to the vet for a check up. There might be a medical problem and this is the only way the cat can communicate. (I had a cat do this and it turns out he had worms. Got the worms taken care of and the cat was fine.)

Most recently our cat started doing this after we had our twins. Darn cat would pee on the dog's bed (poor dog - his attitude was like "what did I do to YOU?!") and on anything the twins came into contact with. No shock as to why the cat was doing this! We went through a whole lot of white vinegar. (It neutralizes the smell of cat urine.) But he just would NOT stop!

I placed the cat with my cousin for a few months. The twins stopped needing those every two hour feedings and we had a little more time to give the cat some attention. That seems to have done the trick. He's been home for a year and we haven't had any problems.



answers from Seattle on

I have had the same cat for 10 years. I got another cat, making two cats. Then, I got a dog. Things were still fine. I got a second dog, and the first cat quit using the box all together and hasn't used it since, well until recently. My other cat ran away and she started using the box again. She still does soil our carpets here and there, but I don't have to worry about my plants stinking like pee and poo. Yes, she did use our pot. The only thing I can say is keep the box clean, duh, and if you have changed anything, gotten another or gotten rid of a pet, your cat may be reacting. Not really any advise I can give, just an experience with a finiky cat. They have minds of their own.

I read some of the other responses, and it reminded me of meds and ut infection. My cat was put on "amatriptoline" (sp?), it didn't help. I had a cat in the past that pee'd everywhere and it turned out she had a major bladder infection.



answers from Spokane on

I'm a mom and a veterinarian.
First, you should make sure your cat doesn't have any medical problems. Cats with urinary tract infections, bladder stones, or crystals in their urine will often develop inapropriate urination habits.
Cats can also exibit these signs due to stress, and cats can become stressed for any number of reasons; a change in litter, a new pet in the family, a change in diet, a change in the activities of family members.
Obviously, if antibiotics or a diet or litter change can solve the problem then these are worth doing.
My recommendation is to see your veterinarian to evaluate your cat as soon as you can. Expect them to recommend a blood panel to check blood sugar, kidney, liver and thyroid health; a urinalysis to look for infection and crystals; and possibly radiographs (x-rays) to look for stones.

dr. marv h



answers from Seattle on

could be urinary issues. my cat does that when not on the right food and gets a kidney flair up, there old the vet says it happens. is it normall color? should be yellow or clear like yours. when they have urinary issues sometimes it can be orangish or red.



answers from Seattle on

I second a trip to the vet. It could be physical or emotional reasons why your cat is doing this. Our cat started doing this when we had our first child...that was a no brainer...she was displaced in the family hierarchy. The vet recommended that we keep her in a room alone with a litter box and food and visit her often to play and brush her so she doesn't feel punished. It did help reaquaint her to the little box.

Our other kitty did it because he had cancer, he was about 14 years old. We bought "the little green machine" from bissell to clean up messes outside the litterbox, works great on carpets.

What kind of interaction does she get from your children? IS she indoor only?



answers from Yakima on

how wierd.... my cat is doing the exact same thing! I've had her for 8 years, I love her to death, but I just don't kow what to do with her anymore. She has always been very good about using her litter box, but in the last 6 months or so she's been doing her business on the carpet just outside the door to the room where her litter box is kept in. And she knows she's not supposed to, because she only does it when no one is looking. I dont know what to do any more. I have a 4 month old, and I don't want him to start crawling in a few months, only to come across one of her little surprises. I'm seriously considering getting rid of her, but we've had her so long.... any ideas as to why she maybe acting up?



answers from Seattle on

My mother's cat did the very same thing except she was used to going outside. Her problem was she kept getting urinary tract infections. This may be something you should consult your veterinerian about. My only other suggestion is that if something has changed recently (i.e. another cat, etc) it could be a territorial thing. Good luck. These things are very frustrating. I hope you get it resolved.

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