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  • Writer's pictureAlissa Anderson


Updated: May 2, 2023

Inappropriate elimination (not using the litter box) can be a very challenging issue to deal with for cat owners. If your cat’s elimination habits have changed, you should consult with your primary veterinarian to find if there is an underlying medical cause. Below are some home modifications you can try if medical conditions are eliminated as a cause.


Provide a minimum of one litter box per cat PLUS an extra litter box (2 cats = 3 litter boxes).


Provide large boxes, a minimum of 1.5x the length of your cat. Geriatric cats with arthritic pain may prefer lower walls or a hole cut into the box to create a lower door.


Have multiple locations for litter boxes, including at least one on each floor if possible.

Litter type

Most cats prefer unscented litter that clumps. Many cats do not like the newer litter types that are more natural (corn, etc), especially if they are stressed or unwell.

Litter depth

In general cats prefer 1-1.5 inch deep litter but some prefer deeper. If trying different depths or types of litter, it is advisable to add a new litter box.

Environmental factors

Cats generally prefer uncovered litter boxes, so remove any covers from at least some if not all of the boxes. Scoop litter a minimum of once to twice daily to keep it clean. Like us, cats prefer a clean bathroom to do their business in. Completely empty the box every one to two weeks and clean with a mild soap, rinse, and dry well before refilling.

Do not place litter boxes in heavily trafficked or noisy areas (Ex: next to a washer). Avoid negative interactions such as giving medications in the litter box area.

Place food and water dishes in a separate room or a minimum of 6 feet away from the litter boxes – like us, cats do not want to eat in their bathroom!

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