Discovering that your cat has suddenly decided to use the rug or couch for his or her litter box is disconcerting, to say the least. Urine and feces not only smell bad, but they can stain fabrics. However, finding out what is causing this sudden change in your otherwise perfect pet is much more important than punishment, and can help you get the situation back to normal quickly.
Stress May Be the Problem
Stress is the body’s reaction to an unpleasant or dangerous situation. A little stress may be good because it helps your cat to avoid trouble. Normally, once the immediate problem is gone, stress levels drop off.
However, when the trigger for the stress remains, it can easily manifest itself in your cat finding the wrong spot to urinate, or even defecate. Stepping back and analyzing why your cat may be stressed is the best way to not only solve the litter box problem, but also to make your cat (and you) much happier. Always remember that cats are not only very intelligent, they are also very sensitive. Any disruption in household routine can cause problems.
- If you bring a new cat, or any new pet, into the home, it could cause stress to your cat until the newcomer has been accepted.
- A new baby, or the addition of any new person to the household can upset your cat, resulting in litter box avoidance.
- Because your cat will be used to going to a specific area to use the litter box, if you move the box, even if you show the cat repeatedly where the box now is, you may have to deal with accidents.
- Moving house is upsetting enough to humans, who understand what is going on; imagine how frightening it must be to a cat, who cannot comprehend what is happening.
- Yelling at your cat, or striking him or her for going to the bathroom on the rug is not going to do anything but make the cat more stressed out and more likely to repeat the act.
Helping Your Cat Adjust
The best way to help your cat return to regular use of the litter box is to reduce stress as much as possible. There are pheromone products that will help to calm your cat, but you can also help by providing plenty of attention. Use some positive reinforcement, in the form of treats and praise, when your cat does use the litter box.