The odor and mess are unmistakable, and litter box problems can cause issues between your family and your cat – and even create a health hazard. Learning about the most common litter box problems and why cats experience them can help both you and your pet live a better and healthier life.  

kitten cat in toilet tray box with litter top view isolated on white

Common Litter Box Problems


Any new litter box issues should be investigated to ensure that your cat is not unwell or injured. A cat that is normally fastidious that suddenly begins eliminating outside of the box may be sick. In the absence of another explanation like a move, litter change or messy box, sudden changes in litter box habits should trigger a call to the vet to ensure your pet is not sick.


A very young kitten could make some mistakes, though most learn to love a box very quickly; it fulfills their natural instincts. Make sure the litter box is small enough to be accessible, even if you need to use a temporary one until your pet grows a bit. Older cats may have changing needs as well; a high sided box just may not be as accessible as it once was for your senior pet. Adapting to a low sided, easy to use box would likely help your older cat resume normal use.


Your cat could be snubbing the litter box because it does not meet her standards – and your potted plant looks more appealing. Make sure the box is clean and filled with enough litter to ensure even a finicky cat is willing to use it. If you have multiple cats, more frequent scooping is needed or multiple boxes are needed to resolve the problem.

Cat litter box with scoop on wooden floor


A change in litter from one brand to the next, a change in the type, size or location of the box or even a household move could trigger temporary litter box issues. If not resolved, though, these problems can become permanent. Easing into changes when possible by mixing the new litter with some of the old or slowly moving the box to a new location could prevent this type of behavior.

Help your pet by looking for the cause of the litterbox problem and seeing a doctor promptly if the change is sudden or you do not see a clear behavioral reason for it. Our team is here for you if you are concerned and walkins are always welcome!


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