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I have a 5 month old kitten having difficulty with consistently using the litter box and I am looking for any insight of what could be going on. Before I get to her major issues there are some things that may be helpful for anyone who is experienced.
I have a total of 3 cats. Oliver 11 years old, Joey 2 years old, and now Layla 5 months. Layla was found on August 4th, hours old, abandoned in the bushes right by my mom's front door. She was wet and hungry. I am on the board of a animal rescue organization and rushed her to our bottle feeder volunteer who is amazing. She weighed in at 3oz. Layla was bottle fed until 5 weeks when she was weaned off. She was a very small, but a consistent eater, only drinking about 5-15oz per 3 hour feeding while on the bottle. She is a very petite kitten even now. She is NOT yet spayed because my vet wants to give her more time to gain weight (at 5 months she's about 4 pounds and tiny). Since I have had her since birth I have slowly increased her world...dog crate to bathroom, bathroom to house (CARPETED house at that). Since she was so little I added a few other litter boxes in the house (dining room, bathroom, and the main, very large one, in the office). As she has gotten bigger I have removed the box in the dining room. Since then she has occasionally still pooped on the carpet where the box was. After consulting with my vet, he advised me to put the box back and slowly move the box over an inch or so at a time so it would eventually be moved in the location of the main box to help her get used to going in there. That worked for two weeks with NO accidents and then one night she pooped right back in the dining where the box was. I sprayed some pet safe spray recommended to me. It worked when fresh, but it had to keep being replied and who wants to do that and over time I can't imagine it being great for the cats, me, and the carpet. After Thanksgiving we added a Christmas tree to the area near where she normally would have accidents. Again, great, no trouble she was doing well until last Friday night she decided to poop in the office about 4 feet from the main box and then pooped again the next night in the office 1 foot away from the main box. I cleaned up both areas well and prayed for the best. She did well all day Sunday and then Monday night, right in front of me, she peed on the carpet in the original spot in the dining room. Since our carpet is a light beige I would have never noticed she peed because it blends in and doesn't really have that cat smell that adult cats have yet. This is the first time I have ever caught her peeing. I didn't want to yell or punish her for her accidents as I have read that it doesn't help; however, when she has had accidents I have just quietly picked her up and placed her in the box where I want her to go in hopes it would click. Since the peeing accident I have done the following:

  • Changed the cats litter from Dr. Elsie's Ultra Precious Cat Clumping (vet recommended) to Dr. Elsie's Cat Attract.
  • Removed the plastic litter box liner.
  • Opened the doors to the litter box cabinet in case she doesn't like it enclosed (my gut tells me that's not the issue).
  • Scooped it 2 times a day.
I did all of this on Monday night and she was GREAT no poop accidents and no pee that I know of until yesterday evening she pooped on the carpet in the dining room again. My vet did say if the Cat Attract doesn't work to try World's Best Cat Litter as its texture is softer he says. She does have odd behavior while in the box such as:

  • Rushes in, barely digs a hole if none at all.
  • NEVER covers up her business, pee or poop. She instead scratches her paws on the edges of the box never putting paws in to try and cover up.
  • And occasionally she will either balance ALL 4 paws on the edge of the box hovering over the litter instead of being in the box OR she has been known to walk as close to the walls of the box (facing it) lean into it, propping her paws on the edges of the box and pee or poop as close to it as possible and hop out immediately, again never covering it. My two male cats will go in right after her and cover it for her as if they are confused as to why she doesn't know what to do.
I am sorry for the length of this, but I want to be as specific as possible because I know litter box issues are puzzling.


Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I am desperate! I know the longer time goes the harder it will be to break her of this.


THANK YOU!!!


Layla's frustrated mommy
 

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How many boxes do you have? Generally you should have one more box than you have cats and they should be throughout your home rather than all in one room/area.

Personally, with a 5m kitten I'd have a minimum of one litter box on each level (if your hone is more than one level) or, if its an apartment, have the boxes as far from each other as you can manage.

You're right to get on top of this ASAP, building good habits is a huge part of it. To do that you need to encourage good habits, part if that - IMO - means extra boxes when you have a kitten. They get distracted, 'lost', and sometimes make mistakes. More boxes spaced out means when she finally does realize she's got to go there will be a box nearby.
 

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You may also want to invest in a black light and a good enzyme cleaner and make sure you clean any potential pee spots. We may not be able to smell it, but the cats can and they'll go again in the same spot.
I think with your baby being so tiny she's probably a bit behind developmentally too, hopefully it'll just take some more time for her to get the hang of it. I would put the box back in the dining room too, better to deal with that for a few more months until she's older than with bad habits forever.
 

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I am not sure where you are, but is it just your vet who will not spay her due to her size and weight? Many places offer s/n at 2 mos and weighs 2 lbs. My 2 were both desexed before I adopted them at 8 and 11 wks. At 5 months, I'd worry about her becoming a sprayer or start calling and having more problems to your situation at hand. My first priority would be to find a good clinic for her that offers such services.

Another thing to consider regarding her stools...is there a possibility she is constipated? If she is fed mostly a dry diet, it could be suspect, and she may have associated pain with the litter box. If so, it could help by adding a water fountain or increasing her water intake with canned food during mealtimes.

Hope she gets better about toileting, though. I've been through it before with one of mine, and it sure isn't fun.

I've also invested in a *good* blacklight, not those found in a typical pet store, btw.
 

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Oh, I'm sorry about the litter box issues. They're really frustrating.

I second the enzyme cleaner - I'm not sure what you've used to clean up the pee and poo, but it really has to be something specifically formulated to eliminate cat urine, like Nature's Miracle or Fizzion. Otherwise, Layla will smell her own scent and return to the same spots to pee (or poop) again.

I also thought about constipation. One of mine has chronic constipation, and when it's bad, she poops elsewhere - my bed is a favorite location. I add 1/8 tsp. Miralax, dissolved in a little warm water, to her wet food every day and it's worked wonders.

You said you have the doors to the litter cabinet open, but I'm not sure whether the boxes themselves are covered or not? If they are, you could try removing the cover on at least one of them. Some kitties don't like covered boxes.

You also mentioned that you have other cats who go into the box after her to cover her poo for her. Is it possible that if they're around when she wants to use a box, it stresses her? That might explain why she's in such a hurry to use the box as well.

As for not covering and scratching the sides of the box, well...you're not alone in having a kitty like that. My constipated one will eventually cover, but she always scratches furiously at the walls of the box first. My other cat also scratched at the walls, and the floor outside of the box, and though she always covered her pee, she rarely bothered to cover her poo. Go figure.
 

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I would place more uncovered boxes in more areas. Perhaps the cabinet itself is the problem. Try different types of litter like Feline Pine or Yesterday's News. I agree with Librarychick, get a black light and after all the lights are out, go through the house looking for glowing - that is where the smell of pee is. Put a penny down everwhere you see glowing and come back and clean with Nature's Miracle to get the pee smell out. Just because you don't smell it does not mean she can't smell it. I would definitely get her fixed at 5 months. Find a vet that will do it. She is reaching maturity. I would also have her checked for a urinary tract infection.
 

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I have a lot of cats and a lot of litter trays but I have one who was a nightmare - relatively recently (via here and after almost a year of constant cleaning up) we tried a litter box with puppy pads and it has helped enormously! We now have three f them and it works so well.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you everyone for your advice. Layla is getting spayed on the 21st. Since she was so little and delayed in a lot of areas weight, amount food she was eating, eliminating on her own without stimulation, etc. two different vets suggested waiting to spay. She's finally catching up. Since I've typed the post originally I have purchased a blacklight, used enzyme cleaner, added two more boxes with cat attract, feline pine, World's Best, and a soft wheat litter. She has altogether stopped pooping in the box. She has peed in the box consistently not the pooping has stopped and she's using her same spot that was cleaned. After watching her closely my gut tells me it is a texture thing. She wants to get in and get out. She has no problem with my other cats as she peed simultaneously in the same box with Oliver today. I am going to try the pee pee pad option next. I hope that helps. Thanks for the advice. Any and all are welcome!!!
 

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Hope the puppy pee pads work for your kitty.
Simba didn't like peeing in the litter boxes...always went right beside them. So we put one box with a pee pad in it. He LOVED his "urinal" and used it for about 2 months. Then he decided to be a "big boy" and pee in the litter box. So there is hope for your little girl!
 

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I'm willing to try anything. Again, I believe it is a huge texture problem she's developed as she tries her hardest not to step foot or stay in the box and longer than possible. When in the box she gets out in such a manner where her paws touch as little of the litter as possible. Thanks! I'll let you know of the pee pee pads help.
 

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Have you tried plain sand? You can buy playground sand from Home Depot or Lowes or another big box store. I hope the pee pads work, I like them. They absorb the urine nicely.
 

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OMG! Layla hasn't pooped in any of the box choices since Monday, but used it this morning! Yesterday, after she had poop on the carpet everyday this week I decided to keep the cat attract add feline pine in one box and a wheat/corn soft litter in the third box. This morning I woke up and she pooped in the car attract box. I know because it was uncovered. My other two that PERFECT box habits. So now thinking the fresh cat attract helped. Now what do I do? Add fresh each day? Any advice on how to keep her going in that box? That tells me there is hope, but I still want to understand why it's not good enough for her the other days.
 

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I am also having trouble with my Chuckie not using her litter box. I don't understand about the puppy pads. do I just place one of those inside the box? Forgive my ignorance.
 

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great news Jwen! When I used the Attract, I sprinkled it on top of the litter I wanted them to use. You may want a thin layer so she smells and hopefully touches the litter you want her to use. This may mean you have to sprinkle it again after she uses and you scoop.

For the pee pads, I put one in an empty litter box. Once he started using it regularly, I would put tiny sprinkles of litter so he smelled and touched it too.
 
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