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My Cat Has Shunned Her Litterbox — Help!

January 15, 2019

Has your cat been eliminating outside of her litterbox? It’s not uncommon among our feline friends. In fact, about one in every 10 cats will experience a litterbox aversion at one point in their lives. Below, your Newburgh, NY veterinarian tells you why your cat might be exhibiting this behavior, and what to do about it.


Much like us, our cats don’t like doing their business in a dirty bathroom. If you don’t clean out your cat’s box often enough, she may decide to stop using it entirely. Scoop out your cat’s bathroom on a daily basis, and change the litter entirely about once a week or so. This ensures that your cat’s box is fresh every day, making her much more likely to continue using it.


Cats can prove very particular about where their bathroom is located. As a general rule, place your cat’s litterbox in a quiet, out-of-the-way spot in the house where she won’t be disturbed when using it. Don’t put it too close to food and water dishes, as cats don’t like doing their business close to where they eat. Finally, make sure that your cat’s box is accessible to her at all times; don’t let a swinging door, screen door, or some other obstacle block Fluffy’s path!

Territorial Behavior

Do you have more than one cat in the house? It’s possible that territorial behavior is what’s preventing your cat from using her litterbox regularly. Some cats won’t use their bathroom if another cat is also eliminating in it! Although some cats can learn to share a litterbox, it’s recommended that you have one litterbox per cat in the household to avoid any territorial behavior.

Litter Type

It’s possible that your cat doesn’t like the type of litter that you’re using in her bathroom. Most cats are fine with clumping litter, but some like non-clumping versions. Scented litters throw some cats off, while some don’t mind it. Experiment with different litters to see what your cat prefers, and ask your vet for a recommendation.

Medical Issues

It’s also possible that a medical concern is what’s causing your cat’s finicky bathroom behavior. Have your pet examined at the vet’s office, because a variety of medical problems could be causing your cat to avoid her litterbox.

To learn more about your cat’s behavior and healthcare needs, contact your Newburgh, NY veterinary clinic. We’re here to help!