How to Eliminate Annoying Litter Box Problems

The most common behavioral problem for which cat owners seek assistance is housesoiling. In fact, housesoiling is a leading cause of cats’ relinquishment to shelters.



There are three main causes of housesoiling in cats: underlying medical problems [e.g. feline lower urinary tract disease, or feline urologic syndrome (FLUTD/FUS)], urine marking, and toileting issues. Toileting problems can stem from a variety of causes, including factors unrelated to the litter box. So, it is always critical to get a comprehensive history to correctly identify the motivation for the problematic behavior.

By getting the latest scoop on litter, you will be better prepared to prevent and resolve litter- and litter-box-related toileting problems in your feline patients. Factors to consider include:

  • Litter fragrance
  • Odor control
  • Litter box size
  • Texture of the substrate material (such as clay, recycled newspaper, corn cob, wheat or other organic pellet material)
  • Location

Every cat has unique preferences, and the best way to identify an individual cat’s set of toileting preferences is to experiment with a variety of litter choices and box styles. This article focuses on new research related to litter and litter boxes that may be helpful in preventing and treating toileting problems.


DVM 360 - March 1, 2009

American Veterinary Medical Association, U.S. pet ownership and demographics sourcebook. Schaumberg, Ill:AVMA, 2007.

Salman MD, Hutchison J, Ruch-Gallie R, et al. Behavioral reasons for relinquishment of dogs and cats to 12 shelters. J Appl Anim Welf Sci 2000;3(2):93-106.

Patronek GJ, Glickman LT, Beck AM, et al. Risk factors for relinquishment of cats to an animal shelter. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;209(3):582-588.