Pet Help Line


My cat just stopped using the litter box. She’s used it for three years with no problems. I don’t know what to do. Help!


Litter box issues are a common problem and one of the top reasons that cats end up in shelters. To help solve these issues, you have to “think like a cat,” and you should soon have a clean home and happy cat.

There are many reasons cats stop using the litter box. The first step in resolving litter issues is ruling out illness, so take your cat to a veterinarian immediately. Also consider the environment where the box is placed. If the cat can be “ambushed” while using the litter box, she may be less likely to go in it. If it’s not clean, she may not want to use the box. If she associates the box with pain or fear, she will be more inclined to go somewhere else. Solving these problems can be as simple as uncovering the box, or it may require a little more detective work.

If your cat stops using the box, use the following tips to get her back in the box:

  • Take your cat to the veterinarian. Even if she appears to be feeling well, she could have an underlying issue. Cats are good at hiding pain, so she may not “seem” or “act” sick.
  • Add more litter boxes. You should have 1+ the number of cats in your home. Make sure there is a box on each level of your home, that the boxes are big enough for your cat to turn around in, and that they are in easily accessible spots. 
  • Make sure all boxes are uncovered. Use clumping, unscented litter and scoop daily.
  • Clean accidents thoroughly, using an enzyme-based cleaner. Use a black light to find all spots if necessary.
  • Be a detective: Have there been any changes in the home lately? Has someone or another pet moved out or moved in? Have you changed the litter type or the box location? When is your cat not using the box? What is your cat doing outside the box? Has your cat recently been treated for a medical issue or been declawed? The more information you have about the issue, the better your chances for solving the problem.

For additional suggestions, please call the Kentucky Humane Society’s free Pet Help Line at (502) 509-4PET and discuss your cat’s issues with a trained behavior counselor.

Ask the Experts

Got a pet-related question? Call our Pet Help Line to receive free advice and to connect to local pet resources, (502) 509-4PET or visit kyhumane.org/help. The Kentucky Humane Society’s Pet Help Line is made possible by grants from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the Banfield Foundation. The Pet Help Line is designed to help keep pets in their homes and out of shelters by giving pet owners the tools they need to have healthy relationships with their pets.

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