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Why Your Cat Feels Nervous When They Use The Bathroom

Is your kitty refusing to use their litter box and urinating outside of it instead? If so, your feline likely feels nervous or fearful to use their designated bathroom space. This is a very common problem among cats and can be equally distressing to owners.

Cats can suffer from litter box anxiety for many different reasons, so it can be a bit tricky to work out why your kitty dislikes their bathroom setup.

However, the good news is once you establish the cause of the stress, you can usually rectify the problem with a few simple changes.

Signs Of Litter Box Anxiety


 Peeing and pooping outside of the litter box is an undeniable sign that something is up with your kitty. However, there are other signals that less subtly suggest your cat is feeling nervous or stressed.
  • Increased Vocalization (Excessive Meowing)
  • Mood Changes
  • Unusual Behavior (Aggression, Hiding, Etc..)
  • Destructive Behavior (Furniture Scratching)
  • Compulsive Behavior (Excessive Grooming)

Why Do Cats Feel Nervous About Using Their Litter Box?


 If your cat is reluctant to use the litter box, they most likely have an issue with the overall set up. This could be:
  • The Litter Box Not Being Clean Enough
  • The Litter Type Is Not Suitable
  • The Litter Box Is In A Poor Location
  • There Aren’t Enough Litter Boxes (Applicable For Multi-Cat Households)

It’s also important to note that a cat may stop using their litter box because of a health issue. If a cat is feeling ill, they could urinate outside the box to tell you they’re not feeling so great; the same way cats stop eating when they are sick.If your kitty continuously enters the box without eliminating waste or is very vocal while in the tray, you might assume they are anxious.

However, this is a common sign of a painful UTI, cystitis, or even kidney stones. Interestingly enough, stress is one of the main causes of urinary problems in cats. It’s vital to address your kitty’s anxiety before it escalates and leads to further issues.

If you’re unsure whether your cat has a medical problem or litter box anxiety, a visit to the vet is always a good idea.

How To Help Ease Litter Box Anxiety

Once you’ve ruled out any underlying health concerns, it’s time to assess the litter box set up. Here are some changes you can make to create a happier bathroom situation for your fur baby.
  1. Keep It Spotless

cats litter box

There is no such thing as scooping too often as all cats desire a clean and hygienic environment to do their business.If the box is not clean enough to a cat’s liking, they will refuse to use it and find somewhere else to go instead.

Even if you think the litter box is not dirty, your feline may disagree. Scooping once a day is not satisfactory for some cats, so if you suspect your kitty is a clean freak, increase your scooping.

Ensure you change the litter and thoroughly clean the box at least once a week. This is important as scooping alone does not remove the smallest waste particles. If these remain in the box, your cat can smell that there’s waste present and may reject using their litter box for a bathroom trip and opt for the carpet.

Ideally, a cat would like clean litter upon every visit. Of course, this isn’t convenient for every cat owner as the time it takes to scoop several times a day can be quite the chore.

Opting for something like an automatic litter box such as the ChillX AutoEgg or the Petsafe ScoopFree can ease up the burden. With self-cleaning litter boxes, your fur baby can always expect a fresh bed of litter after every use and you virtually eliminate the need to scoop.

  1. Place The Litter Box In The Perfect Location

cat in paper bag

Most cat owners put the litter box in a convenient spot for them, which is usually somewhere out of the way. However, when choosing the location, consider your cat’s litter box preferences.Most felines prefer their toilet to be in a quiet area but not in a corner. Cats like to have a full view of anyone approaching while they do their business.

They also like multiple escape routes should a threat of some kind appear. Hidden spots block their view, and corners limit the possibility for a swift exit.

On the other hand, If the litter box is in a busy area of the house, your kitty may feel too anxious to use it. Moreover, ensure it’s not too close to their food and water bowls.

  1. Try A Bigger Litter Box

cat in closed litter box

A litter box should be at least one and a half times the length of your cat. This optimal size will allow them to stand up and turn around with ease when going to the bathroom.Check that your box is a suitable fit for your cat and that they haven’t outgrown it. What’s more, if you have a senior or overweight feline, they may struggle to get into the box if the entry step is too high. If needed, change the size and shape of the box to meet your fur baby’s needs.

  1. Try A New Litter

cat litter sand

If it’s not the box that’s causing the problem, it could be the litter. Nowadays there are many different fancy litters on the market and various scents available too.While you might be keen to try out the fresh-scented ones, most cats prefer unscented. Cats have extremely sensitive noses, so if they dislike the smell of their bathroom space, they won’t go near it.

The wrong texture and consistency of litter can also result in a cat avoiding the litter box. Clumping litter with small particles gives a durable sand consistency and is the most favored among felines and pet owners.

  1. Get An Additional Litter Box If Needed

two cats in live

Lastly, if you have more than one cat, you may need to get an additional box. As a rule of thumb, there should be one litter box per cat in the household. This is especially important for cats who don’t like to share their bathroom space or become territorial with their siblings.Swiftly solving your cat’s litter box anxiety will prevent them from developing a surface or location preference for bathroom use, such as on the carpet or even bedding.

Follow these tips today to ease your fur baby’s concerns to help calm those nerves and get them on track.

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