"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Litter Box Problems After a Move

– Posted in: Columns, Feline, House training

King of the Litter BoxDear John: After being a long time reader, thought I’d ask a litter box question.

I have a 13 year old long haired male cat. He is an indoor cat and from kitten hood lived his life in a single family home. We recently moved to an apartment and while he pees in his litter box, he poos on the floor – right beside it. I keep the litter box and the area beside very clean.

I also have a female 10 1/2 year old Pug. I take her outside to do her business but I also have a pee pad for her which she uses. I recently caught her peeing in the litter box. What is going on?

Thanks,

M.H.

Hi M.H.,

In order to fully understand why your cat may be doing this you have to understand a little bit about cat psychology. In a recent survey 72.3% of cats indicated they were certain that they were the only sentient life form on the planet and 27.7% were undecided. The undecided lived with women that called them “fur-babies” and were themselves referred to by their own species as “cat-ladies.” The cats suspected sentience because their “cat-ladies” usually only left the house to buy cat food, cat toys and for some unknown reason pints of Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

With that in mind, consider your recent move. You decided to move, you planned the move and then you made the move. Whereas his excellency was just moved. No consulting, no application for approval, no appeal process. A lot of cats respond to sudden change of any sort by deciding what used to be referred to as the litter box will be henceforth considered to be a “suggestion-box”. I don’t imagine it helped much when his excellency discovered that a lowly dog was now using the royal commode. He probably had a “catniption” on the spot and fired off a “suggestion” immediately.

If not the move, it may be a cleanliness issue. You may have scrubbed in and around the litter box as thoroughly as you would an operating room but when a cat gets in its head that something isn’t “cat-clean” there’s no changing their minds. It would take a forensic team wielding black lights and electron microscopes to bring it up to spec(k). Replacing the litter box with a new one almost always sets things straight so when in doubt – throw it out before it turns into a bad habit which in cat lingo usually means- wonderfully convenient.

The last thing you want is a cat thinking, “Walking all the way over to that nasty litter box was cutting way too deeply into my sleeping time anyway.” I’ve had good luck getting cats like these back on track by adding new litter boxes to the new “rest stop” areas. For the most part they seem to think, “Well, it’s here and I’m here, so for old times sake why don’t we get reacquainted?” Every few days you just move the new litter box a little bit in the direction of the old location and once you’ve got it there, retire it.

Less likely to be at the heart of the problem, but worth considering anyway is that your cat’s health may be the culprit. Cats are very good at hiding ailments and often the first sign that something is up is a change in litter box use. Your cat is older so a trip to the vets for some blood work, urinalysis etc. wouldn’t be a bad idea.< ?php display_embedarticle_widget() ?>

Regards,

John Wade

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