- Old age – An older cat may not want to venture out. Providing a litter tray may solve the problem.
- Fear – Cats normally dig a hole, squat to urinate or defaecate and cover it up afterwards. Because a cat feels very vulnerable during this exercise it may prefer to stay inside if there is something threatening outside. If you think that the problem is caused by another cat frightening yours outdoors, then let your cat out yourself. In this way you can provide some security and help frighten off any cats waiting in the garden. It may be that your cat has to run the risk of going into other people’s gardens to dig a hole because the soil in your own garden is not soft enough. Dig up an area for your cat to use, choose a quiet corner with some shelter. A pile of sand or litter tray will be equally attractive.
- Presence of strangers – Occasionally cats urinate or defaecate indoors as a marking behaviour when owners go on holiday and leave a stranger to care for them. Because they feel vulnerable they ‘mark’ an area that has a strong scent of the owners. The best way to avoid this is to keep the bedroom door shut. Make the cats feel secure again on return from holiday.
- Litter tray problems
If your cat normally uses a litter tray but has recently started to go elsewhere in the house there may be an obvious reason.
Dirty litter tray
Cats don’t like using a tray if it is heavily soiled. Litter trays should be cleaned out every couple of days. If you have several cats provide one litter tray each.
Litter tray too clean!
Using scented litter, deodorants or disinfectants may put the scent-sensitive cat off using the tray. Use a disinfectant, which is feline friendly and make sure the tray is rinsed thoroughly with water. Avoid disinfectants that turn cloudy in water as these usually contain phenols which are toxic to cats. Cats learning to use the tray may need to associate it as a toilet and too frequent cleaning may weaken this association.
Wrong type of litter
Changing the consistency of the litter or to a scented type may put the cat off using it. Many cats prefer fine grain litter with the consistency of sand. If you want to change the type of litter you use, mix the new one in gradually over a week or so to gauge the cat’s reaction.
Position of the litter tray
Place the tray in a quiet spot where your cat only has to watch in one or two directions at once rather than in the open or in a thoroughfare. Placing food near the tray will put your cat off using it. Put the feeding bowl elsewhere.
Type of litter tray
If you use an open type of tray it may be worth purchasing one with a lid to provide security. An inverted box with a hole cut in it may suffice.
Occasionally a cat decides not to use a tray because it has had a bad experience there. Perhaps it was cornered there to be given some medication or another pet or child when last using it has intimidated it. Repositioning the tray to a quiet spot and providing a lid for it may help!