White cat using a red litter box.

Cats are great! They are playful, independent, affectionate, and they don’t need to go outside to eliminate. A big positive for feline lovers. One of the most common complaints among cat owners, though, is inappropriate elimination.  Litter box issues are common among cat owners and a leading cause of cat surrender.

Inappropriate elimination is different from “territory marking” or spraying.  Spraying is depositing urine onto a vertical surface such as a wall or sofa. Elimination is done in a squatting position and releasing a larger amount of urine. Some cats refuse to use the litter box and eliminate next to it. Changing the cat litter may help. So, what does kitty want for kitty litter?

There are many different types of kitty litter on the market. The most popular ones are traditional clay litter, scooping/clumping litter, crystal-based/silica gel litter, and biodegradable litter. According to The Humane Society of the United States, most cats prefer fine-grained litter, presumably because they have a softer feel. The newer scoopable and clumping litters are sought after by owners because they tend to reduce odor. However, cats may prefer a small-grained clay litter instead of the new litters on the market.

Once you discover a litter your cat likes, the rule of thumb is to stick to it. Avoid strong scents and quick changes to litters. Switching litters may result in elimination outside the litter box.

If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box and eliminates beside it, you may need to take the cat to the vet for a thorough physical exam. Several medical conditions may result in a cat not using the litter box such as urinary tract infections. Placement of the litter box is also a big issue.

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