The Litter Box Dilemma

September 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Litter Boxes

Blogging with Nedda Wittels

Here is a list of some types of situations that can cause cats to not use litter boxes and/or to stop using litter boxes.  The list is not all-inclusive, as other factors can contribute to the situation.  Sometimes, more than one factor listed here may be relevant to a specific case.

PHYSICAL ILLNESS:  "How can I tell my person there is a physical problem?"   These can include all types of urinary tract illness, bowel blockages, scar tissue left over from spay/neuter surgeries, and pain from declawing (phantom limb) problems.  Please note that urinary tract problems can become chronic.


EMOTIONAL ISSUES:  blockages or imbalances; cans can be emotional sponges for their humans, as well as dealing with their own emotions.


ENERGY IN YOUR HOME:  the energy of your house, of the people living and/or visiting your home can all affect your feline's energy field.  Find ways to keep the space energetically clear and peaceful.


EXCESSIVE YANG - meaning, lots of male chi (even if the testosterone levels are low and even if the cat is a female) can lead to aggressive behavior, including spraying and not using the litter box.


TOO MANY CATS!!  How much space (territory) does a cat need?  Just because the house feels a comfortable size to you doesn't mean it feels big enough for your cat.  Cats don't normally live in community with other cats that are not their siblings, aunts, nieces.  Males don't usually live in community at all in the wild.  We have created a totally unnatural environment for our cats and then we complain when they don't all find this environment comfortable.  In addition, another cat in the house may be an old enemy (past life) or a current enemy (not all humans could necessarily live comfortably together.


CATS NEED TIME TO ADJUST TO LIFE CHANGES and sometimes, just like humans, can't make the adjustment to certain changes.    Every personality is different.  Some of the changes that might set off this behavior are:

  • New baby arrives.
  • Baby becomes a toddler and chases the cat, grabbing at them by the tail or even just the body.
  • New animal upsets the balance of things; smells new & different
  • New life partner for you
  • Separation or divorce (grieving)
  • Move to a new place and having to adjust
  • New place smells from other animals who lived there before you moved in.


YOUR ATTITUDE:  How you react to your cat when he or she stops using the litter box directly affects your cat.  My recommendation is that your first reaction should be concern for the cat's health.  If you begin by being negative and judgmental, you are not creating an opportunity to work out whatever is going on.

If you cat has stopped using the litter box or is occasionally leaving you little presents and this has gone on for some time (months, years), and you are now at the end of your rope or your spouse/life partner is at the end of his or her rope, this will make it harder to solve the problem.


BREAKING A LONG-TIME HABIT:  Just as it is difficult for you to break a habit, so it is for any animal.  Once the cause of the change in behavior is uncovered and resolved, many cats still find it challenging to break a life-time habit.  Patience and perseverance on the part of the human is essential.


GETTING RID OF THE SCENT:  Cats use their scent to get rid of other scents they don't like.  Finding the right cleaner to get rid of a urine scent can be challenging, especially if you don't want to use anything artificial or toxic.


ANIMALS AS MIRRORS: Many times animals mirror our issues to show us what in our life is "not working" for us any longer. If your cat is not using the litter box, does this reflect something else inside your or going on in other areas of your life?

Because each animal is unique and different, it is impossible to apply generalities to the question of why an individual cat has stopped using the litter box.  Therefore, I will be happy to answer general questions in the blog about the topic of litter boxes and felines, but I cannot and will not try to solve a particular situation about anyone's cat.  That requires speaking with the cat directly, and often with other members of the household as well.

Please visit my website, and subscribe to my mailing list to receive free "Eleven Keys to Creating a Win/Win with Your Animals."


3 Responses to “The Litter Box Dilemma”
  1. faunfenderson says:

    Hi Nedda,

    I listened to your talk on litter boxes this morning… and actually Zoe did too, at least through the interviews! She was proud that you used her interview!

    First, I have to say that my take on this is probably a bit different from the norm in light of all that transpired with Freddie — he had numerous issues that manifested around the litter box, from health matters (chronic infections), jealousy, control, and then the ultimate one, his sensitivity to what’s going on in the world… remember the Tsunami?? and his frustration at not being able to solve/heal it.

    So, I’ve seen pretty nearly all of what can come up… and worked with so many different remedies… and on so many levels. And I have a great appreciation for what the cats are telling us humans in their litter box choices.

    However, I was thrilled with your talk — I loved the meditation in particular! I connected with Neko (outside kitty) and loved smelling the earth as he dug – I truly understood why he likes to go there! And I loved that you gave so many different cat views of what the “litter box” means to them (or not!). Your talk was a great illustration that we (cats/animals and humans) are all the same yet different and that beings should not be taken for granted, no matter how big or small. And that if you want to resolve an issue you have to find out from the source what the problem is – i.e ask the cat!

    I learned that lesson from Freddie – in fact, he is why I learned to communicate telepathically with animals! (Thanks Freddie!)

    And thank you, Nedda, for saying it all so well!

    With love,
    Faun Fenderson

  2. Mary Helen says:

    Dear Nedda, I enjoyed all the information from your discussion. (I listened this morning to the recorded version.) The meditaition was very helpful as a way to connect with my male cat and discover he kind of misses the smell of my female cat who passed in June. An interesting new perspective for me. Thank you so much and all the cats interviewed, for enlightening us. Mary Helen Schmidt

    • Nedda says:

      Hi, Mary Helen,

      I’m so glad to hear that you connected with your cat and that he shared his feelings with you.

      Even when we have an “agenda” – something we want to talk to our animals about – they may have things to tell us that are unexpected. This is why I always find it exciting and illuminating when I speak with my feline family members.

      Glad you enjoyed the class.

      Sending purrs.