There’s a part of cat raising and training which many owners get fluffed up about!
And that is cat litter training or potty training.
It’s something that can mean the difference between a stress free everyday life with a kitten or cat, or a time filled with the frustration of your cat pooping or peeing outside the litter box.
So if you get this right, you can avoid all sorts of problems, and the best outcome is to prevent the problems altogether.
There are 5 common reasons why cats pee or poop outside the litter tray.
There are more reasons than this, and these all occur, however, make sure you know and exclude these 5 first, as they are common.
What are they?
1. A change in litter tray size, litter type or tray location.
This cause can affect adult cats as well as kittens.
When you get a new cat, or move house, or change your litter routine for any other reason, such as you want to change the litter type or tray you use, the most common trap that can occur is that the change puts the cat off.
For example, with kittens, when their litter type changes from the type they are used to in the breeder’s home, to see and smell the new type in your home, there may be confusion that this is their new litter tray. The best prevention is to ask the breeder what litter type they use, such as paper based, clay based or crystal based. Plus ask them if they use a normal tray or hooded tray.
In many cases, if you use a different type of tray and litter, the cat may be fine with this. However, to be sure, you can start with the same type, and then gradually change to the new type you want to use.
It is after 4-6 weeks of using the same tray and location and settling happily in your home with no issues, that you can switch types immediately in 1 go.
However, do not switch from open to hooded or vice versa, especially if the size of the tray becomes bigger or smaller at the same time, as this is more likely to put the cat off and they may refuse.
So change 1 factor, not 2. In other words, from paper to clay, but not paper to clay and change size or type of box at the same time.
2. The cat is not well socialised by the mother.
If your cat is not well socialised by the mother, litter tray problems can occur.
Getting a well socialised cat is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself as a cat owner, for many reasons.
Socialised means that the cat was weaned off the mother cat at an appropriate age, between 12-16 weeks.
Any younger and potentially there will be problems.
However socialised means 4 other crucial factors as well, that determine how they relate to humans, and as a result less stressed living with humans and less need to act out by peeing or pooping outside the tray.
If your cat is not well socialised, then you will need to do litter training.
This involves showing the cat the litter tray is their litter tray by putting their poop or pee in it.
This also means thoroughly cleaning the areas they have pee’d or pooped so that there is no residual smell. Peroxide is good for synthetic materials.
This also involves supervision of the cat, so that if they are about to poo or pee, you pick them up and put them in the litter tray.
3. The cat was not well house broken in a stress free way.
Yes, I have seen this happen quite a few times.
The first cause is that the cat was not well socialised by the mother together with a stressful introduction to the home.
This is often a recipe for… litter troubles!
However, there ware ways to reduce this problem.
The number one of course is to ensure your cat is well socialised by the mother and does not come from a home that was stressed and hence had to let go of the cat or kitten.
Second is where you come in as their new owner.
What to do is to avoid the mistakes that cause the cat to not feel established in their home.
There are 5 main mistakes here, and one of them is that the 2 B’s, the bond and the boundaries are not established in the new home.
The 2 B’s are often missed by owners who are not experienced with cats.
The lack of bond, which can be achieved by a few minutes total, if you know what to do.
The cat has to know that they are living in a new environment with a new owner that they connect with. Without this connection, they are essentially running riot in a strange house with no incentive to live cleanly in a home they feel they belong in.
The lack of boundaries, which can be caused by many mistakes can include things like letting the cat out of their first room too early, or out of the house too early, or too much chaos in the home in terms of being treated in an inconsistent or chaotic way.
One example includes children treating the cat in a way that induces stress.
This means the cat may have come from a stressed home to another one.
When this happens, the brain of the cat is not relaxed and will not seek to establish himself or herself cleanly, which they will if they feel that this home is their new one and one they like, and stress free so that their natural relaxed instincts kick in instead of their defensive instincts kicking in.
4. There was a new competitor in the house, such as addition of a new cat or dog.
The added cat can cause spraying, and also peeing outside the tray.
The reasons for this includes stress causing the cat to ignore its usual clean routine and causing them to create a new one where they pee elsewhere.
When a cat is either stressed or unhappy or both, this can happen.
It was probably a stressful introduction to the new cat or dog that could have caused it.
So learn to introduce a cat or dog the right way, showing them that they are still top cat, even though they may not be after the new pecking order is established.
There are ways to establish the existing cat as number one, while introducing the new one.
Here’s a tip, when introducing the new cat, spend more than 5 minutes with the existing cat, before about 2 minutes with the new one.
The cure is similar to the above in cause 2.
5. There is a medical cause such as urine infection.
Sometimes, there is a medical cause of behavior problems including peeing or pooping outside the tray.
If there are no apparent causes, including a new cat in the neighborhood that is spying on your cat while it’s on the tray, and there is a sudden change in behavior, then a medical cause could be the cause.
Get your cat checked with a vet.
This can be applied to most other behavior problems that arise out of the blue.
So hopefully the above is enough to get you started.
Solving this problem is important, as it means sanity for you, and a stress free life by the cat, as you can actually enjoy being with the cat, which in turn will let the cat enjoy its life.