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One of the most common reasons pet parents surrender their cats to animal shelters is house soiling.  Unfortunately, many of these kitties are deemed “unadoptable” and are euthanized as a result.  In an effort to prevent this from happening, your Tempe pet sitter wants to discuss what to do when encountering this problem in your home.

First, take your feline friend to the vet.  As much as they hate it, kitties who start going outside the box need to be checked for any medical problems such as a urinary tract infection or blockage initially. When kitties don’t feel well they tell you, and this can be one of their methods of communication.   Once your cat is given a clean bill of health, you can safely assume the problem is behavioral and continue your detective work to determine why this is occurring.

Have you had any major life changes recently?  Maybe a new human or furry addition or change to the household?  A change in schedule such as working hours?  A move to a new residence?  Any of these things can trigger stress for your furkid also which can subsequently alter his or her litterbox usage.  Be sure you are devoting enough attention to your kitty so he doesn’t feel neglected during these stressful times.  Keep a routine or schedule going so there is some structure for him as well, and he may return to good habits.  Listen to your cat.  You have to get into his head.  What might you be doing or not doing that he doesn’t appreciate?  This is like a puzzle or mystery to solve.

Your furry friend may need a very clean litterbox and may go outside of it if he doesn’t feel it’s up to his standards.  Try scooping or changing the litter more often or adding a litterbox.  This is especially important if you have brought in a new kitty to the family. Your resident cat may be expressing his disapproval, so be sure and do a SLOW introduction and add at least one more box for him.  If you have an old box, try replacing it.  Sometimes the smell gets into the plastic and kitty may just deem it no longer clean enough to use.

Your pet sitter in Tempe has had some success by moving litterboxes to new locations in the house if a particular cat has chosen a different spot to “go”.  It may not make sense to us, but sometimes it works.  Move a box to the new potty spot and hopefully kitty will continue visiting that spot but will now go in the litterbox.

Try both a covered and uncovered litterbox.  Some kitties prefer privacy with a hooded box, and some demand an open box.  This can be the key and an easy solution!  Our feline friends can have discriminating tastes, so also try different kinds of litter.  He may have stopped using the box if you recently changed litter, so go back to the old one.  There are many different choices now, and not all cats appreciate variety or approve of all substrates.  Just a few options: Clumping and non-clumping clay, walnut-based, pine pellet based, corn based, recycled newspaper pellets… the list goes on!  Try Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract litter if nothing seems to be working.

Try to observe if anything negative is happening when kitty is using the box.  Is he being attacked by another animal?  Is he in pain?  Any negative association can cause him to stop using the litterbox appropriately.  One of my personal cats had megacolon when he was a kitten, so he never defecates in the litterbox as a result.  He associates it with pain from kittenhood most likely.  A litterbox has to be a safe place for your furry friend to do his business, so be sure there are no predators bothering him.

Also make sure the box is short enough for kitty to reach.  I have a 3-legged cat who can’t easily get into a tall litterbox, so she chooses the bathroom floor instead.  An arthritic cat may have this problem also.  Similarly, be certain the box is big enough to accommodate the feline if they are large.  You may have a cat who is in the box but drips over the side if the box isn’t large enough for him.

Keep in mind that an unneutered male cat is much more likely to “mark” in the house than a neutered cat.   This is especially true if there are other cats in the house.  Have your kitten neutered before 6 months of age to prevent this problem from ever occurring.  However, it’s never too late to get him fixed.  Keep in mind this may not solve things if he gets neutered as an adult.

For more tips, check out The Hermitage Cat Shelter’s Piddle Program here: http://www.hermitagecatshelter.org/index.php/resources/piddle-program

This pet sitter in Tempe has tried lots of different things, so…above all, don’t give up!

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