1. Your cat may have an underlying illness.
It's really important especially if you have a cat that normally is really good about using the litter box to find out if there is an underlying cause. Cats are notorious for hiding illnesses from their owners so it's really important that you always make sure to check with the vet to make sure that there's not an underlying cause, such as a urinary tract infection or constipation something that might need to be medically treated.
Urinary tract infections can be extremely deadly to cats so always check with your vet to make sure there aren't any underlying physical illnesses going on causing your cat to not want to use their litter box properly.
2.The litter box is too dirty.
Cats are extremely fastidious creatures, so if you're not scooping that litter box often enough, they might choose a different location to go. Personally I scoop my boxes at least twice a day, although I have multiple cats and also have several litter boxes.
2. You don’t have enough litter boxes.
In your house the rule of thumb for how many litter boxes to have is that you want to have one litter box for every cat that you have plus one additional litter box. So if you have one cat you want to have two litter boxes, if you have two cats you'd want to have three boxes and so on and so forth.
This can help keep the litter boxes cleaner so that your cat is more likely to use them. This can also help in situations where maybe you have an extremely large house and maybe the cat is on one side of the house and the litter box is on the other and the cat chooses to go in your bedroom instead of going downstairs to whatever room that you keep the litter box in.
4. You have the wrong type of litter box.
There are a lot of options when it comes to litter boxes out there. My typical recommendation for a litter box is just to get a very large normal litter box, preferably with a higher back side if you can find them. A lot of cats will not use hooded litter boxes, in my experience, and that can cause a lot of problems with inappropriate elimination in your house.
I've also seen many problems with having automatic litter boxes, where the cat is too afraid of the litter box to use it, and if your cat doesn't like their litter box they're not going to use it, and they're going to urinate somewhere else in your house.
5. Poor litter box placement
Cats want privacy when they are going to the bathroom and they need a calm quiet area to go in. Keeping your litter box in extremely high traffic areas, where the cat is going to get interrupted constantly, or in areas of your house that are extremely noisy, such as next to your washer or dryer, can really cause a lot of stress on the cat. If the cat gets spooked regularly, when they are trying to go to the bathroom, they're going to choose not to use the litter box and they're going to go somewhere else.
It's very important to make sure when you're choosing your litter box locations that they are placed in quiet, peaceful, calm areas, where your cat can go to the bathroom in peace uninterrupted.
6. Your cat is intact or unaltered.
There is a misconception that only male cats spray, but females do sometimes spray as well. Cats are extremely territorial. If you have a cat, that has not been spayed or neutered, then you definitely run the risk of them spraying in the house.
It is typically recommended that you get your cat fixed before six months of age, if you want to try to prevent them from spraying in the future.
7. You are using the wrong type of litter.
Choosing the type of litter is extremely important, for if the cat doesn't like the litter, they're not going to use the litter box. It's always recommended to choose an unscented litter, or at least if you're going to get a scented one, get one that is very mildly scented, so that the cat is more likely to use it. You have to remember their nose is right in that litter, so if you have a strongly scented litter, imagine they're just in there breathing breathing in that scent.
There are many types of litter out there from clay to pellets. I personally have noticed a trend where most cats don't really care much for the pelleted litter, although it's fantastic if you do have a cat that will use it. There is almost zero tracking when it comes to pellet litter, but when it comes to the cat's preference, they want something that is as close to being a fine fine grained sand that is available.
8. One cat is guarding the litter box.
If you have multiple cats, you can run into cats that will guard the litter box. This is again to do with the fact that cats are extremely territorial. Even if you have four litter boxes for your three cats, if you have them all in one space, there might be a problem with litter box guarding.
It's recommended that you spread your litter boxes throughout your place, so that way if you do have a cat that is prone to wanting to guard the litter box from the other cats, being able to use it, will be a non-issue. You will have litter boxes spaced throughout your house so that there's no way that the cat can guard all those different litter boxes in all those locations, giving your other cats the freedom to be able to use the litter box without being bullied.
9. Outdoor or feral cats are spraying the exterior of your house.
If you have cats outside, that are spraying the exterior of your house or maybe near your front door, this can cause problems with your cat inside. They might smell the urine that is coming from outside and decide to spray basically saying “hey this is my turf buddy back off”. This can be a little bit more difficult of a problem to solve, because in this situation it's not your cat that's starting it.
There are a lot of boundary sprays and other deterrents that are available to deter cats from going on to your property. There's also a lot of enzymatic outdoor cleaners, that you can use in the areas that cats have maybe sprayed the outside of your house, that can help with making your cat not have that need or urge to spray, and to prevent those cats from coming back.
10. Your cat has anxiety.
If you have an anxious cat that sometimes goes to the bathroom wherever they are, this is another one that you would have to consult with a veterinarian. If you've tried everything there is to try, and there's nothing physically or health-wise wrong with your cat, and they're still not using the litter box there are medications available out there that can help with the anxiety that a cat may have. These medications can really help get your cat going back into the litter box, if the litter box was causing them anxiety problems, or if maybe they were just having anxiety problems from loud noises and things scaring them and causing them to urinate wherever they were when they got scared.
*This post contains affiliate links*