Why Is My Cat Missing the Litter Box?

Article | Why is my cat missing the liter box?

Medical Issues

In this series of blogs, we will look at the causes resulting in your cat missing the litter pan. Possible causes include medical issues, litter pan and management issues, and social or behavioral issues. In this segment, we will focus on medical issues and address the other issues in subsequent blogs.

If you have a cat that does not miss the litter box, Yeaaah! You are blessed and you can bypass this series of blogs! If you are not so fortunate, you may want to read on. Sometimes, there are remedies or suggestions that can help with the problem. Other times, there may be no solution to the problem.

Let’s address medical issues that can cause your pet to miss the litter box.  The most common reason is caused by feline lower urinary tract disease.  This medical issue is more common with cats two to five years in age and can include cystitis, urinary tract obstruction, and interstitial cystitis. Signs include difficulty urinating, bloody urine, frequent urination, painful urination, or crystals in the urine.  Cats will urinate out of the litter box with this condition if they associate painful urination with the litter box or if they have increased urgency to urinate.  Obviously, seeking veterinary medical help will be the right solution for your pet.

Older cats or obese cats also can get diseases which affect litter box habits.  These involve increased frequency of urination, trouble getting to the litter box, or there is simply not enough room in the pan.  Cats with kidney disease, thyroid disease, or diabetes mellitus often produce more urine and can soak the pan more than they did a few years ago.  A cat with dementia may not remember where the pan is located if it is too far away.  The arthritic cat may not be able to get down the stairs too well, and once there, may have trouble getting into the pan.  This applies also to obese cats. Maintaining your cats’ medications and making litter boxes easily accessible for your older cats can help with missing the litter box.

Cats with inflammatory bowel disease may have chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, or a combination of both.  Again, they may associate painful defecation with the litter box and start using other areas.  Once again, medical treatment or medications may treat their ailments along with the litter box problem.