I like a spacious bathroom – turns out, you cat may, too. Should your cat be urinating out of the box, on a rug (especially a bath mat), spraying walls or urinating in a corner, you may have litter box issues. Of course, if the cat is experiencing these behaviors, it is important to have him or her looked at by us at District Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible to rule out medical concerns / problems. If all is normal, your cat may need a bathroom remodel.
Many cats will enter the litter box, walk around, scratch the sides of the box, then leave to eliminate elsewhere. For some reason the cat is perturbed by the box. We always recommend that boxes be cleaned every day, with all the litter being changed at least weekly. Also, many cats do not like a cover on the box. In addition, you should have more than one litter box for your cat – and the boxes should not be next to each other or near machinery or in loud areas.
If following all of the above, it is possible your litter box is too small. Dr. Norma Guy, a veterinarian and behaviorist in Canada, recently published an abstract in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Applications and Research concerning a study she did with cats and litter box size. She had participants use two litter boxes – one was 34 inches long, the other was about standard litter box length. After two weeks she had the cat owners switch locations of the boxes with each other to help rule out placement preference. What did she find? Dr. Guy discovered that cats in her study, by a ratio of 5:3, preferred to use the large box.
Why? Well, many cats like to stretch out prior to defecation / urination. The longer box allows this behavior. It has also been shown that cats that play in their litter are more apt to use their litter box for elimination purposes. Cats are not like dogs – they prefer to defecate or urinate in a clean area, free from other urine or feces. They may want more space to pee and poop!
So – if your cat is healthy and not using the box well, try a larger litter box!
Dan Teich, DVM