Why Won’t My Cat Use The Litter Tray? 5 Tips For Cat Owners

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Given that cats are very clean by nature, if your cat suddenly won’t use their litter tray then there are generally one of two factors for this.

The first factor may be a health problem such as a kidney infection and should be ruled out by your vet if your cat is displaying any sign of illness, the second factor is behavioural and below are five tips for cat owners that may potentially alleviate the problem should the issue be a behavioural one.

Is The Tray Clean?

The simplest reason is that the tray just isn’t clean enough. Many cats faced with a dirty tray will go elsewhere and this is an often overlooked reason for not using it. Keep an eye on your cats deposits as they do have a level that they simply become uncomfortable at and may consider their tray too dirty.

Clean out the tray at least once a week with warm soapy water and rinse well with warm water, don’t forget to dry well with possibly a towel before replacing the litter.

Location Is Important

Cats do not like to eat and drink in the same spot that they go to the toilet. They also have a preference for a quiet and more private spot, as opposed to a very busy area. It has also been claimed that cats have a nervousness about being vulnerable whilst doing their business and as an in-built defence against predators prefer the tray situated where an easy escape can be made should it be necessary.

An ideal place to situate a litter tray is in a spot where a cat has a complete view of the room. If you are using a tray with an enclosed lid it may be worth taking the lid off to see if this makes a difference to your cat using their litter tray.

The Litter Itself

Cats are sensitive to change and particularly to places where they have had a bad experience. The many litters available on the market now vary wildly and it should not be ruled out that your feline friend has simply been put off using the tray temporarily due to the texture or odour of a change of litter. Cats have an amazingly keen sense of smell and a brand change of litter has the capacity to unsettle their toilet habits.

The One Tray Thing

It is well documented that a household should have one tray per cat. If you have introduced a new cat into the environment then a new tray should be added and it should be noted that the trays should be placed in different areas.

It is worth mentioning that an older cat or a cat that is generally more prolific in their toilet habits may well benefit from an extra tray placed strategically in another part of your home, perhaps in a spare bedroom. This will help the cat that needs to go more frequently and also highlight a potential aversion to their original tray.

Is The Cat Stressed?

A cat may mark its territory instead of urinating in its tray if it has been subjected to an environmental stress-inducing change. Be aware of any issues surrounding your pets reluctance to use their tray and try to eliminate the stress.

Punishing a cat for peeing outside of their tray may also induce stress as they may associate their tray as a source of potential punishment and a logical approach is likely more favourable in producing the desired outcome than an angry one.


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