The Litter Box: What Your Cat Wants You To Know

This writer’s mother recently sent her a copy of a page from Real Simple Magazine where she’d  marked an asterisk next to some cat peeing mishap Litter Boxadvice.   Because many cats are given up as a result of pottying issues, many of which can be resolved,  here’s what your cat would like you to know about the litter box:

  • DO place litter box(es) far from sources of food and in a quiet, low-trafficked place.
  • DON’T place litter box(es) near noisy or heat-radiating appliances.
  • DO place a litter box in each level of a multi-level house.
  • DO make sure the door is wedged open so kitty isn’t locked out of the potty if it’s in a closet or bathroom.
  • DO provide one litter box for each cat, plus an extra as in, “one box for each cat, plus one more.”
  • DO replace clumping litter every two to three weeks and twice a week for clay.

Cats can be picky about a great many things, including kitty litter.  There are many types of litter – scented and unscented, clumping and non-clumping… A cat can develop an aversion to the scent and/or feeling of their litter, so once you know what your cat likes, it’s best to stick with it.

Some cats don’t like covered boxes because they may feel trapped.  Covered litter boxes might trap smells, too.  A simple litter box will provide the greatest odds for pottying success, bearing in mind, as a cat ages, she might have difficulty getting in, so boxes with low entrances might be ideal for older cats.

So, what do you do when kitty has litter box mishaps?

  • Most important, take her to the vet.  This advice is applicable to any change in behavior.
  • Have a cover?  Uncover the box.
  • Haven’t thoroughly cleaned the box lately, give it a good scrubbing with non-toxic soap.
  • How often do you scoop the box?  Scooping more often is better than less.
  • Does kitty exit the potty on to a cold floor?  That’s called surface aversion. Place a mat near the potty exit that’d be comfortable for her to step on and wash it from time-to-time.

If kitty is pottying in houseplants, it’s recommended by The Humane Society of the U.S. to place medium-sized rocks on top of the soil, and/or mix potting soil in with regular kitty litter kitty litter.

You can try sand instead of kitty litter if your cat rejects commercial kitty litter altogether.

The Solving Litter Box Problems page on The Humane Society of the U.S.’s website has additional tips, but remember, if your cat is behaving differently, always consult your veterinarian.


Written by Stephanie Newman

Stephanie Newman

Stephanie is author of the blog, The Musings Of A Crazy Cat Lady, and a freelance writer whose work regularly appears on Stephanie’s work has been featured on Catster and in print in Natural Awakenings Pet – east Michigan and the Oakland Press newspaper. She’s a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, Inc. and a member of Pet Professionals for Pet Adoption.