Learning to Love Litter


Dear Ellie,

My cat has never had a problem using his litter box, but now he keeps urinating on my favourite rug. I’ve tried putting him in his litter box after meals, but he just climbs right out! He’s left some awful marks on the rug and it’s starting to smell. I don’t know what to do if this continues – I can’t afford a new rug every month!


Dear Lit-and-Miss,

Your poor cat! Cats can have these problems when they’re stressed or anxious; remember, cats hate change. The bad news: your rug is going to need a really good steam clean. The good news: your cat can learn to love litter again!

Clean the litter box every day
You wouldn’t like using an overflowing toilet, would you? Remove waste from the litter box every day. Clumping litter is handy for easy removal – the litter clumps when it becomes wet, so it is easy to remove urine and faeces. Crystal litter is also convenient, as it absorbs urine. If your cat prefers litter such as recycled paper, make sure you have a good scoop for removing the soiled litter. Give your litter box a thorough clean every week, and change the litter completely. Litter bag liners can make this process a lot easier!

Location, location, location
Do you eat and sleep in or near your toilet? (I hope you said ‘no’, because cats definitely do not do this.) Keep food bowls and bedding in a different location to the litter box. This doesn’t have to be in a different room, but there should be a bit of space between sleeping, eating, and toileting zones. Regularly moving the litter box can cause confusion, so try to keep its location consistent!

Stress and stimulation
We don’t speak human, so when we get stressed we show it. Have you recently introduced a new family member (human or animal)? Has the routine or environment changed? Is it boredom? Cats need stimulation and affection – we love to know our humans care about us as much as we care about them. Interactive toys give us an opportunity to engage with our humans, and there are other toys available to keep us busy while you’re away.

Sometimes we develop habits that are hard to break. Your cat might benefit from some ‘back to basics’ litter training. Start with a small, enclosed room such as a laundry or bathroom. Place the litter box in one corner of the space, and bedding and food bowls opposite (remember, location matters). Put some toys in there, too – this isn’t punishment! Keep your cat in this room and monitor his use of the litter box. Cats are generally clean, so we try not to mess up small spaces that we want to play and sleep in! Bring your cat out for cuddles when you’re home, but keep him in this room when you’re at work and during the night. When your cat is regularly using the litter box again, you can gradually re-introduce him to the rest of the house.

To keep on top of future accidents, make sure you have a good carpet cleaner and a deterrent spray. My human had to use deterrent sprays a few times when my little brother arrived. I’m not proud of my behaviour, but in my defence, he is kind of a brat. Fortunately, I have learned to love him (but don’t tell him I said that).

If you’re having problems with your cat’s use of litter, come and visit our staff in-store. We have a range of advice and products that could help you and your cat.