Why is my older cat not using litter box?

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Why is my older cat not using litter box?

Updated May 9, 2022

Dear Cathy,

We have a 17-year-old cat who over the past few months sometimes neglects to use the litter box. Sometimes, he’ll leave a surprise right next to the litter box and sometimes elsewhere. It seems to happen whether the litter box is completely clean or not. What’s the reason?

– Rich, Rockville Centre, New York

Dear Rich,

If you haven’t moved the litter box, changed the substrate, or had any changes in your household (new baby, mother moved in, etc.), I am inclined to believe that your senior feline may have a health problem. She could be constipated or have an intestinal problem that is making it difficult for her “to go.”

Cats also get into different positions when they are peeing or pooping. If she is arthritic, the position for pooping may be causing her some discomfort, and so it may be easier for her to go outside the box. Health problems can be treated, so take her to the veterinarian – and take a sample of the poop with you.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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