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Tips for Avoiding Litter Aversion in Cats

Cats can decide they don't like their litter.

If cats don't like the type of litter that you have chosen for their litter box, they may decide to go elsewhere, developing an inappropriate urination problem. Here are some tips for avoiding that issue.

  • Find a litter type that your cat likes, and stick with it. If you have to change litters, fill the box with the new litter, and sprinkle some of the old litter on top. It will get mixed in with the new litter, and your cat will adjust to it more easily.
  • Recognize the signs that your cat may not like his litter. If your cat gets in the box and scratches around before eliminating, he likes his litter. If he scratches around before he gets in, but not when he is actually in the box, or perches on the side of the box trying not to touch the litter, try another type of litter.
  • Many cats prefer soft, sand-like litters. Soft clumping litters or even sandbox sand are preferred by many cats.
  • Use between one and three inches of litter in the box, depending on your cat's size (a small kitten may only need half an inch) and preference.
  • Do not use clumping litters for kittens less than four months old. Ingested clumping litter in a small kitten can cause dangerous intestinal obstruction.
  • Provide a clean box. This may be the single most important thing that you can do to help prevent inappropriate urination.

    • Different cats tolerate varying levels of litter box cleanliness. For some cats, even the tiniest amount of urine or feces present in the box will have him looking for another place to relieve himself.
    • Some cats do great with a Litter-Robot. This product provides a cat with the cleanest litter box possible because it cleans automatically every time a cat uses it.
    • Read tips for good litter box cleaning here.
  • Do not put a rug in front of or under the cat litter box, especially a nice, soft, fluffy one. Sometimes, cats scratch at the rug while they are scratching around at their litter and discover that they like the feeling of the rug better. This may lead the cat to seek out other rugs or soft items like towels on which to urinate.

    • Plastic doormats or ones that are crisscrossed provide an excellent alternative to rugs for placing in front of the litter box because they are easy to clean and won't cause your cat to prefer a new surface over his litter. The Perfect Litter Mat is a great example. It has a non-skid back, is comfortable for cats' feet, and extends out in all directions when placed under a litter box.
    • If your cat does not like to walk across the plastic doormat to get to his box, try a straw mat. There are also some sisal rope mats available to place around litter boxes. These may actually help attract your cat to the box since cats love to scratch (but not urinate on) sisal materials.
  • Try a cat attracting product. Cat Attract is a product that you can sprinkle in your cat's litter that may cause him to be more attracted to using his box.

If your cat is urinating inappropriately, the first step is to have him checked out by the veterinarian for any medical cause.

For more information on inappropriate urination in cats and how to solve it, take a look at this article.

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