Cat Behaviour Problems: The Most Common Problem And How To Deal With It

by Paul Bicknell - Date: 2007-04-11 - Word Count: 629 Share This!

Failure to use the litter box or house soiling is undoubtedly the most common cat behaviour problem. Cats may stop using their litter box/tray or even have trouble learning to use it in the first place. One thing to remember is that you should never punish the cat by 'rubbing it's nose in it'. This method of correction has never worked and will only serve to make the cat even more traumatised, thus adding to the problem.

The three main reasons for failing to use the litter box/tray are: -

1. Medical Problems such as:

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
Bacterial Infections
Kidney Disease
Liver Disease


Always take the cat to a reputable vet in the first instance in order to rule out the possibility of any medical problems.
If there is more than one cat in the household, all will need to be examined.

Once all medical problems have been ruled out, you can consider the following: -

2. Problems with the litter box/tray itself:

Not emptied often enough
Not clean
Too many cats using the same box
Overuse of deodorizers
Changing the type or brand of the litter
Changing the location
Too near to 'frightening' domestic appliances e.g. the washing machine


Change the litter at least once every 3 days or as often as daily for some cats
Ensure deposits are removed on a daily basis
Clean the box with an odourless disinfectant - there are many brands available designed especially for litter boxes
If there is more than one cat in the household, make sure, where possible, each has it's own litter box
Introduce any new brand/type of litter a little at a time, mixing it with the old brand/type. Do this until eventually you are using only the new brand. If this doesn't work, you may have to consider returning to the old brand/type.
If the box has been moved put it back to where it was previously. If this is not possible, put the box on the spot that the cat is choosing to use and then move it towards the desired new location at a rate of one foot per day
Move the box away from the 'frightening' noise or move the appliance that's causing the problem
Consider a covered litter box/tray. This gives the cat more privacy, which many prefer and it also helps with odour control and prevents litter being kicked out of the box.

3. Stress/Trauma:

New cats introduced to the household
Visitors, especially large gatherings e.g. a party
Workmen carrying out work in the household
Moving house
A change in routine e.g. new working hours
Problems with other cats in the neighbourhood
A new baby


Try to give each cat it's 'own space' within the household and introduce them gradually spending a little more time together each day. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that if the soiling continues to be persistent, then it may be advisable not to keep the second cat
Remove the cat to another area of the house along with it's bed, litter box, food and water when visitors are present
The above point can be used when workmen are in the house as well but if it is likely to be for more than a couple of days or very noisy then you should consider placing the cat in a cattery until the work is finished
Tranquillisers prescribed by your vet may be effective or consider products like Feliway also available from your vet as a spray or in a diffuser
A new baby sometimes means the cat can become jealous. Give your cat plenty of attention to reassure it that you still love him/her

Above all, remember that punishing the cat using pain or fear will completely destroy any relationship you may have with him/her. At the very least, discipline in this way is likely to escalate the problem and will very likely result in the cat leaving the household altogether to escape the 'abusive human behaviour'.

Related Tags: feline, litter tray, litter box, pet cat, flutd, cat behavior problems, house soiling, feliway

Paul Bicknell recommends Solutions To Cat Behaviour Problems. See more at

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