Litter Box Tips for Cats

Litter Box Tips for Cats: An Ideal Litter Box Can Help Prevent or Eliminate Inappropriate Urination


Cats use their litter box out of instinct. If your cat urinates outside the little box,
it could be because of two reasons.

First of all, it could be because your cat does not like something about the litter box, and therefore may not use it, deciding to urinate on carpeting, furniture, or clothing instead.

Secondly, this could be caused by a medical condition. Many cats urinate inappropriately due to a medical problem, but then develop a behavioral problem the longer they urinate outside the box. They then have to be retrained to use the litter box once the medical problem is resolved. Since it is hard to determine what the cause is for cats to urinate outside the litter box without a medical test, we highly recommend that your cat should be examined and have a urinalysis as soon as you notice the problem. The sooner the problem is rectified, the more likely your cat will be retrained
successfully to use the litter box.


An ideal litter box is like your home bathroom; the nicer the litter box environment, the more your cat will use it. Here are tips to prevent and/or correct behavioral urinary problems:

  • 1 litter box for each cat +1 (i.e 2 boxes for 1 cat, 3 boxes for 2 cats); have boxes in different rooms, 1 on each level of the house
  • Leave box uncovered (covering traps smells in box, like an outhouse)
  • Clumping litters are preferred by most cats, do not change litter types frequently
  • Be mindful of fragrances added to litter: one study showed cats preferred cedar and fish odors, but avoided floral or citrus odors. 
  • Several studies have shown cats prefer activated carbon over sodium bicarbonate (these are added for odor control)
  • Scoop box daily
  • Clean box regularly (at least every 2 weeks) with only hot water and soap, not
  • Do not use box liners; automatic scooping boxes are not recommended either
  • One study looked at litter box size, and cat preference trended towards large box (22 x 16 x 6.5 inches)
  • Cats may have a preference for depth and slope of litter
  • Be aware of noises around the litter box (i.e. dryer buzzing) that may spook your cat
  • Be sure your cat always has access to the box; in multi-cat households, one cat may try to guard access to the box, so be sure that boxes are not located so one cat could sit in
    the only access hall. If your cat is urinating inappropriately, be sure to use an enzyme cleaner. Also physically block that point by closing doors or placing furniture over the spot.

If cats can smell urine in carpet, then they will think it is another toilet. Some cats need to be retrained, which involves confining a cat for a short period with food, water, and litter box in a room without absorbable surfaces (i.e. tile/linoleum floors).

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