Litter Tray Problems

by Julie
(London)

I have two 3 year old tabby cats who are brother and sister. They both use a litter tray and it is driving me mad, we have fitted a catflap in and they have a nice big garden to roam in but still use their tray.


My house has developed a smell of cat pee and they have gone to the toliet behing my televison and sofa also. Please could you tell me why they go to the toilet around the house and use the tray. How can I stop this and get them to go out?

Many thanks
Julie.


Reply from Liz (Editor): There are two main cat problems here which I'll talk about separately.

1. They won't go outside to use the toilet. Cats are creatures of habit, and are usually resistant to change. Yours have got used to using the litter tray indoors and now don't want to go to the toilet outside. They may even think going to the toilet outside is bad behavior, so they don't want to do it. You need to teach them that it is OK to go outside.

To try to remedy this, I'd suggest slowly, day by day, moving the litter tray towards the outside door, then put it just outside the house. They should start to use it outside if you do it this way. A tray with a hood is best for this.

Once they're using it outside, move it, again over a peroid of days, further away from the house to the place in the garden where you want them to do their business. Once they're using it there, fill it with soil instead of litter (assuming that's what you want them to use eventually), and they should still continue to use it. After this stage, you should then be able to take it away completely and, with a bit of luck, they'll get in the habit of going outside.

You may still need to keep a litter tray in the house for certain situations - e.g. if it's freezing cold out they may decide they really don't want to go outside.


2. They're not always using the litter tray. There could be a number of reasons for this, and without knowing more detail, it's hard for me to speculate what these could be. If you read the following page it will take you systematically through the possible reasons why cats may decide not to use their litter trays:

Litter Box Problems

It could be that they're sensing you're unhappy with them for using the litter tray - so their response is to pee somewhere else. I think they're probably a bit confused about the "right" thing to do, but if you follow what I've suggested in 1 above, hopefully they should start to get the right idea.

The other thing you'll need to do is completely remove the smell of cat urine from the areas they've been peeing in - if you don't, they'll continue to pee there. These pages give you more advice / information on this:

How to Clean Cat Urine

Cat Urine Cleaning Products

Best of luck with solving these litter tray problems.

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