Despite your best efforts, your cat won’t use the tray or has suddenly developed an aversion to it. We take a look at some common reasons behind this problem.

Cats are very clean animals and most are completely fine with using the litter tray but some will develop issues either during their lives or at kitten stage when they are learning. It’s best to be as proactive as possible to address an issue early, rather than letting it develop into a more chronic problem.

We take a look at a few common reasons behind an aversion to using a litter box – and offer some tips for fixing the problem. It’s important to remember your pet isn’t being naughty – there is a problem and them not using the tray is their way of explaining that to you. It’s now up to you to figure out what the issue is.

1. The location of the tray

Cats don’t like their litter tray to be too close to where they eat and drink. They also crave privacy and like a quiet, dark place for their tray. Consider also if the box is too far away from where your cat spends most of their time.

2. The size of the tray

Most cats prefer a larger tray so make sure that your cat has enough room to turn and scratch in the tray.

3. They don’t like the choice of litter

Cats have sensitive paws and can have a preference to types and styles of litter. There are many choices out there so be sure you have the right match for your cat. You can find out more about litter types here.

4. They can smell their waste elsewhere

If your cat has had an accident outside of their tray, they can actually form an association with the place they made a mistake and start using that as the place to urinate or defecate. Make sure you clean the spot thoroughly (with an ammonia-free cleaning product, as ammonia can be found in urine) and if needed, even restrict access to that area for your pet until they successfully use the tray once again.

5.  They have a negative association with the tray

If the cat has had a bad experience with their litter box – like it being dirty or not cleaned often enough, or a medical problem when they were going to the bathroom – it may cause them to become wary of the tray. Ensure all other elements are addressed and make sure the tray is in a calm, quiet, dark place (a laundry is ideal) to help the process be as non-stressful as possible.

6. There’s conflict between your cats

Even if the issue isn’t occurring at the actual tray itself, any tension between household cats can cause territorial or stress-related issues. In this case, multiple boxes in different locations can help, as well as ensuring the cats are kept separated while one is using the tray, so they don’t fear being pounced upon.

7. You’re not cleaning enough

Cats are very clean animals and don’t like using a dirty litter tray. Ensure you’re cleaning the tray regularly, which means removing faeces, changing litter and giving the whole tray a hot, soapy wash often too.

8. There’s a medical issue

Sometimes, the issue isn’t environmental or behavioural and could be a medical issue. If you are concerned in any way, you should see your local Greencross Vets.

Feel free to talk to your local Petbarn team member for any advice on caring for your cat.