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Pet tips: Litter box solutions

Cats naturally adapt to using a litter box, but from time-to-time some cats can develop elimination problems. (AP Photo/file)

Cats naturally adapt to using a litter box, but from time-to-time some cats can develop elimination problems. There are multiple reasons to explain why a cat has developed an issue with using their litter box. The following environmental triggers can help identify or reduce inappropriate urination.

Negative Association:

• The litter box is not easily usable or accessible.
• You haven’t cleaned the litter box often or thoroughly enough.
• You don’t have individual litter boxes for each cat in your household.
• The litter box is too small for your cat or too deep.
• Some cats develop preferences for eliminating on different surfaces.
• There isn’t enough litter in the box or they don’t prefer the brand of litter.
• They don’t like the location of the litter box.


• Simple changes in your home environment can sometimes cause stress, which can lead to litter box problems. Things like moving, adding a new animal or family member could be traumatic for a cat.

• Additionally, conflict between multiple cats in a household can create enough stress to cause litter box problems.

Medical Problems:

• Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): If your cat is frequently using the litter box but is only eliminating small amounts of urine, she/he could be suffering from UTI. This might cause her to go outside the litter box.

• Feline Interstitial Cystitis: This is a neurological disease that affects the cat’s bladder. Cystitis can be painful and can cause the cat to urinate frequently. This might cause them to lose their bladder control.

• Kidney Stones or Blockage can be another cause for frequent urination. This can be a painful experience for your cat and their abdomen may be tender to the touch.

Starting off on the right paw:

• If your cat(s) have inappropriately urinated in an area, a veterinary exam is needed to determine whether or not a health problem is the reason for the accidents. Be sure to clean the area thoroughly with a cleaning agent specifically formulated for pet urine. Examples include Nature’s Miracle and Anti-Icky Poo. You can use a black light to see exactly where your cat has urinated.

• You’ll need a litter box for every cat in the home plus one additional (n+1 rule). These boxes should be placed strategically, i.e. in a quiet place or in an area where your cats have had accidents and NOT next to the dryer, in an open space or near a door where they may get startled. You may find your cat(s) have a preference for a particular location or urinate in one box, defecate in another.

• Use clumping, unscented litter, scoop the litter box daily and change out the litter completely once a week. Clean the litter box with unscented soap when changing out the litter.

• Large, uncovered litter boxes that are easily accessed are ideal and preferable to most cats.

Weekly pet tips are provided by the Seattle Humane Society. Listen to KIRO Radio’s “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” every Sunday at 1 p.m. on KIRO Radio. Also available anytime ON DEMAND at

Also don’t miss this week’s pet of the week: Princess. She’s available for adoption now at the Seattle Humane Society.

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