Retraining a Cat to the Litter Box
A cat with litter box issues can be facing the prospect of death if it is not corrected. We have successfully retrained many cats to the box, and if you follow these guidelines and are vigilant and diligent, you can do the same. Remember: it is truly a life or death issue for your cat.
First, rule out all medical issues. Have your vet do a urinalysis. Any crystals, white blood cells, red blood cells in the urine can cause a cat to pee out of the box. They may need antibiotics. You may want to have an x-ray to check for bladder stones. If the cat gets a totally clean bill of health, then you can assume it’s behavioral. Even if your cat has an infection, you will want to retrain to the box.
We suggest that you talk to your vet and get them on an anti-anxiety drug and pair that with the retraining. We use Buspirone because it seems to have residual effects after we stop it. It takes a week or more for it to start working, but start the retraining immediately. Hopefully, a sixty day regimen will be enough.
- Confine the cat to a small bathroom/ utility room/cage with only the litter box (use Cat Attract), food and water. No beds, no towels, no rugs on the floor. Nothing but hard surfaces. The cat must stay confined totally for the week. You can go in and cuddle and play, but the cat cannot come out!
- If the cat has had no accidents at all in the week and has used the box, then…
- The cat is still confined in this room but can come out for short periods as long as you able to watch and monitor. No more than maybe 30 minutes or so 2 – 3 times a day – then back in the room. If you observe the cat peeing or scratching or spraying, immediately put back in the bathroom and leave for two days, then start again.
- If things go well, for week two, move on…
- Allow the cat out of the room when you are home and can casually watch. When you leave the house, are working, and at night, put the cat back in the bathroom.
- If no accidents during week 3, then move on …
- Slowly over the week, allow the cat to have full access to the house. I would encourage you to put the cat in the bathroom at night during this week.
If you are diligent in this process, you should have success. Some things to consider:
- Every so often, we encourage you to have a “refresher” course where the cat stays in the bathroom at night for several days.
- You should have one litter box per cat plus one and they should be in different locations.
- Use Cat Attract litter. Keep the box very clean.
- Use a big enough box that the cat can get in comfortably and turn around.
- Don’t use a covered box.