Litter Box Retraining – General
Used for inappropriate urination,
not spraying. Always have your cat checked by a vet for a urinary
tract infection. Some infections are subtle and require antibiotic
therapy for up to a month, or perhaps anti-inflammatory drugs and/or a
special diet. It is very important that medical causes be considered
first and then treated appropriately.
Confine the cat to a crate - a
large dog crate or kitty playpen is ideal. Place one or two litter
boxes in there with unscented scoopable litter. Set up the boxes so
that there is some space between the food and water and the box(es)
There should also be room left for a bed or sleeping pad. Leave the
radio on a soothing station like classical while you are not there.
Put the crate in a room that you can use to expand kitty’s territory
when using the litter box consistently, like a bathroom or spare
bedroom. The room should be fairly small though. Once kitty is using
the boxes consistently you can open the crate and let kitty out in the
room. However, even if using them right from the start, keep kitty
confined for a week. Take out for short periods of cuddling, grooming
or play, two or three times a day, but then back in the crate. Try to
give attention equivalent or greater than what was received before
confinement. Fifteen minutes of undivided attention per day can make a
big difference. This confinement should not be viewed as punishment.
Do not leave kitty unattended outside the crate, even for a minute to
answer the phone etc.
Another option is to put the crate
in the room the cat has spent the most time in, and feels more
comfortable in. But supervision is crucial.
Don't think this is cruel, it is
behavior modification, and environment control, and if surrendered to
a shelter, kitty would be in a smaller cage for a week or more during
quarantine and acclimation. After at least a week of consistently good
habits open the door to the room and let kitty out for supervised
periods and give lots of attention, then back in the crate at night
and when you are not at home. As time goes by and there are no
incidents outside the crate you can expand territory. If there is a
slip, go back to the level before the slip i.e. if kitty slips after
being let loose in the main house, go back to room confinement. These
steps should be gradual and always with close supervision when gaining
the next level. Always keep the cage box(es)available during this
period and consider adding others on additional levels of the house if
warranted. Stop letting kitty outside, if kitty was outdoors in the
past. Going outside won't help the problem. You can convert kitty to
an indoor cat and this is the time to do it.
Another thing that can be used when confining a cat is Rescue Remedy.
You can put it in the water or directly on the cat's tongue. Use it
consistently. It is very mild and sometimes the effects are subtle,
but they are there. You can get this in a health food store. It is
also available from various online sources.
Feliway may be helpful if there is
an anxiety component associated with urination outside the box.
All soiled areas must be
thoroughly cleaned with an enzyme cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle.
Don’t give up. This behavior is a
way of communicating. It is up to us humans to figure out what our
kitties are trying to tell us.