Poor litter box habits

Metope

Member
Apr 18, 2015
448
234
Seattle
Our elderly cat (14 years old) who has always been very clean and tidy has become increasingly messy with her box over the past couple years. She'll aim her butt over the edge and pee on the floor, step in the pee and drag it from room to room, kick the sand around, turning the entire bathroom floor into a litter box. We clean her box every day so she doesn't do this because her box is dirty, in fact she's more likely to make a mess when her box is perfectly clean. A covered box won't do either, we've tried and she'll just stick her butt out the entry hole.

We recently moved to a new place with outdoor access, and I was hoping she'd start going to the bathroom outside, but she just won't! She's too well trained, the last time she lived in a house with outdoor access was about ten years ago so the box is the only option she knows of. She loves being outside but will come back in to use her box! Has anyone ever had a problem like this? How do you undo litter box training? I'm at my wits end and so sick of cleaning the bathroom three times a day, any help would be appreciated!
 

clevercat

catwoman
Sep 29, 2008
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The first thing I would do is get her in for a vet check, if you haven't already. I have had wide experience of this type of behaviour - in one case, the cat concerned had developed arthritis and using the tray was uncomfortable for him, so he'd perch his bottom on the edge of the box and pee/poop out. Anti-inflammatory painkillers resolved that issue. Another elderly cat (19) started having box problems when she became senile.
In terms of immediate help, you could try putting puppy training pads around the box. They'll catch and absorb the pee, so she won't be tracking it around the house anymore. I know it is a stressful situation - hopefully someone else will chime in with other ideas. Good luck!
 

Metope

Member
Apr 18, 2015
448
234
Seattle
Puppy pads are a great idea, thanks!! I was also thinking of putting some litter in a strategic place outside, maybe she'll get the idea. She definitely doesn't have arthritis, physically she's as agile as a kitten, she can jump up on tall ledges easily and the vet is always surprised at how healthy she is for her age. She's due for a checkup so I'll ask if she might be getting senile, she's been acting differently and more anxious overall since we moved. The litter box thing started way before we moved though, no idea what brought that on.
 

clevercat

catwoman
Sep 29, 2008
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I missed the part where you said you recently moved - I bet that's at the heart of the issue. While you're waiting for a vet appointment perhaps you could try a couple of Feliway diffusers in the areas she likes to hang out?
 

Cindi

My baby, Bellis
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Can you buy a larger litterbox with higher sides that's shorter in the front? Puppy pads are also a great idea until you can get her back on track.
 

Metope

Member
Apr 18, 2015
448
234
Seattle
I missed the part where you said you recently moved - I bet that's at the heart of the issue. While you're waiting for a vet appointment perhaps you could try a couple of Feliway diffusers in the areas she likes to hang out?
Her bathroom issues are not caused by the move, she started it way before we moved to our new place, it's just more annoying now because our bathroom is smaller so whenever she has an accident it'll get everywhere. She's been doing this on and off for two years, and we moved here six months ago. She's become more anxious overall after the move though, she used to be okay with some of our friends but now she hides whenever anyone comes over. Whenever it's just my husband and I at home she's her usual playful self.

I just wish she would realize peeing outside is an option, she's outside a lot now that we finally let her (we waited until we were sure she's comfortable in the new place). I don't think there's any way of changing her bathroom habits by now other than making her go outside, we've tried everything! The puppy pads are definitely a great idea though!

Can you buy a larger litterbox with higher sides that's shorter in the front? Puppy pads are also a great idea until you can get her back on track.
The litter box we currently have is the tallest we've found, and she still manages to pee over the edge! I even had to tape a magazine over the shorter front because she'd use that side to pee out of. If we got a taller box she'd have to jump in and out, and I don't think that's a good option.
 

poopsie

How Sentimental
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Jan 14, 2009
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I have cats with litter box 'issues'. I enclosed my patio so one lives out there. The other old man misses the box or just uses the pads. I never scold them or make them feel anxious. They are old and it is part of having a senior. I may be in the same position one of these years so I treat them how I would hope to be treated or how I would treat an elderly parent.
 

clevercat

catwoman
Sep 29, 2008
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Where the heart is
I have cats with litter box 'issues'. I enclosed my patio so one lives out there. The other old man misses the box or just uses the pads. I never scold them or make them feel anxious. They are old and it is part of having a senior. I may be in the same position one of these years so I treat them how I would hope to be treated or how I would treat an elderly parent.

Me too. Which is just as well, considering the amount of inappropriate pee-ers and poop-ers I have rescued...
 

pixiejenna

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Apr 5, 2009
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Just another thought on the litter box issue you said that the one you have is the tallest you've seen with out it being so tall she'd have to jump in/out. But what is the size of the litter box, is it the standard size? I ask because we have a older cat who was constantly peeing outside of the box but it wasn't intentional he was always inside the box. However because of his age and health he has a hard time squatting to pee so he pretty much stands straight up when he pees which is why it was always ending up outside the box even though he's in the right spot. We ended up getting a extra long box with high sides, it's lower in the front for him to get in/out easily. Once we got the extra long box he hasn't peed outside the box once. Our guy is also on the bigger/longer side too so that also played a role in that too, he can easily maneuver around the longer box vs the standard size one. I actually tried a different box before the extra long one with high sides and he could barely turn around in it and when he did #2 he was very squished up which is what lead me to try the extra long box.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G920A using PurseForum mobile app
 

sdkitty

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Jan 16, 2006
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San Diego
what about putting a litter box outside near the back door? you'd still have to clean it but spillovers wouldn't be as bad
 
Sep 13, 2007
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The prairies of the Midwest
I used to buy big plastic trays like winter-boot trays to put under the litter box for our out-of-the-box pee-er. When one of my cats developed kidney disease he started peeing outside the box. Don't know if it was because the litter pan smelled more intensely from his concentrated urine. I bought new litter pans but that didn't seem to help. The trays worked at catching the spillover, although I did have to hose them down at least once a day.
 

sdkitty

O.G.
Jan 16, 2006
23,398
23,189
San Diego
The first thing I would do is get her in for a vet check, if you haven't already. I have had wide experience of this type of behaviour - in one case, the cat concerned had developed arthritis and using the tray was uncomfortable for him, so he'd perch his bottom on the edge of the box and pee/poop out. Anti-inflammatory painkillers resolved that issue. Another elderly cat (19) started having box problems when she became senile.
In terms of immediate help, you could try putting puppy training pads around the box. They'll catch and absorb the pee, so she won't be tracking it around the house anymore. I know it is a stressful situation - hopefully someone else will chime in with other ideas. Good luck!
will the puppy pads prevent the urine soaking through to the floor? we're moving and will have the litter box on a wood floor