Preventing A Problem
What do you do if you’ve just saved up and shelled out on a new, high-tech litter box for your fur baby, and they won’t use it? This can be a baffling situation concerning proper acclimation and can cause even more distress if you start to notice an accident or two outside of the litter box.
Cats are creatures of habit and do not take well to change. Of course, change is inevitable, even in the life of a cat. When we change our kitties' old products to something new, it’s not uncommon for our felines to take a while to adjust and resist acclimation.
It’s essential to take action immediately when a cat starts eliminating outside of their litter box. Felines habitually return to the same places to do their business so breaking the habit sooner rather than later is a plus. A few times of peeing on the couch is enough to solidify a new habit so taking the proper precautions and adjustments can be crucial.
If you don’t investigate the cause and solve the problem, your cat is unlikely to start using the box on its own. However, whether it’s an automatic unit like the AutoEgg or a traditional box, there is usually a reasonable solution to most bathroom issues. Follow the steps in this guide to put an end to your cat’s litter box accidents and get them feeling more comfortable with their new bathroom space.
1) Keep The Location The Same
When changing to a new litter box, the most important thing to do is put the new box in the same place as the old one. When helping your cat adjust to something new and different, limit the amount of change. Moreover, your cat’s litter box should always be in a quiet spot so they can feel safe and secure during use.
2) Consider The Litter Type
Changing to a new litter box is not a good time to switch litter as well. Avoid overwhelming your kitty by using the same litter as before. If you haven’t changed the litter and your cat is still having accidents outside of the box, it may be worth looking at the litter you are using.
It’s always best to keep the litter as simple as possible as felines are super sensitive to smells and textures. Most cats prefer unscented litter, and many scented versions can be too strong for them and put them off using their litter box. Even if they have never had any issue with scented litter before, a change such as a new unit can trigger this dislike and make them avoidant.
Also, check if additives and chemical deodorizers are used and try to find the most natural version possible. For some automatic litter boxes, this may not be possible, as they require a specific litter. However, the AutoEgg works with any hard clumping clay litter. This is the most popular litter type on the market, so there are lots of suitable options available.
3) Add Their Own Scent
Another way to make your furry companion’s new automatic litter box feel more familiar is to put their scent inside it. The best way to do this is to add some of the used litter from the old box to the new one. This will recreate the smell of their bathroom space and help them to make the connection. Alternatively, if they have a blanket they usually sleep on, you can rub this around the sides of the box as well.
4) Clean All Accidents Thoroughly
Once a cat has developed a location preference for bathroom accidents, the lingering odor of their urine reinforces the habit for next time. Remember that a cat’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours (14 times stronger, in fact). So, you may no longer smell the pee after cleaning it up, but your furry friend might.
To effectively remove the scent, you’ll need to use an enzyme-based pet odor neutralizer, often found in most pet stores. These cleaning products will break down the chemical structure of urine and other residues so that your cat can no longer smell it.
5) Block Access To Your Cat’s Location Preference
What should you do if your kitty keeps returning to their favorite elimination spot despite neutralizing the odor? If this happens, you can try to stop them from going there altogether. Either create a physical barrier to block it off or cover the area with tin foil. Most cats hate the feeling of tin foil on their paws, so they will avoid walking on it.
You can also consider putting the litter box directly on top of your cat’s elimination spot. Then gradually move the box an inch or so every few days until it's in your desired location.
6) Reward Good Behavior
When your cat does start to use their automatic litter box, it’s beneficial to reward them with a treat each time. This part of the litter training method is vital. After a while, your cat will associate using their litter box with something positive and, therefore, will want to do it more.
You can also use treats to encourage use by placing one near or inside the litter box. The smell of the food will draw them to the litter box and hopefully prompt them to enter and use it.
7) Visit Your Vet If The Problem Persists
These steps are successful nine times out of ten. If your cat is still having accidents after attempting all of the above, it’s time to visit your vet. Sometimes, eliminating outside of the box can be down to an underlying medical condition or may even require some professional guidance from a pet behavior professional.
Alternatively, your cat’s litter box avoidance could be a sign that they feel stressed about something more significant and often unrelated. For example, suppose another big change happened around the same time as changing the litter box (such as moving or the addition of a new pet).
In that case, the anxiety caused by that change could be why your cat stopped using the box. In this case, the new litter box may not be the problem, but rather because your fur baby is struggling to adjust to something else and may require a different angle of attention to resolve their issues.
If your cat’s litter box avoidance is a symptom of a medical problem, your vet may treat it successfully. However, this doesn’t mean the accidents will stop immediately. Your kitty will likely have already developed a location preference and a habit of eliminating outside the box. Therefore, you’ll still need to follow the steps listed above to put an end to the problem completely.
To learn more about automatic litter boxes and how to better improve your cat's experience visit our homepage.