Why has my cat has stopped using his litter box? Is he just being spiteful?
In a word, “no.”
Before explaining that statement, I will give you my answer to possible reasons for “litter box abandonment.” Then my Team (my non-physical helpers: the spirit guides and angels who I connect with) will more fully explain the emotional components behind this unwanted behavior.
Looking at the physical reasons behind “litter box abandonment,” there are multiple causes of which may account for your cat’s actions. Here are some:
Kitty might have a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) and it is extremely important to first rule this out with a trip to your vet.
Brand of litter changed without doing it gradually. Or, if you changed it gradually, kitty just doesn’t like the new litter.
Litter box moved to a new location or litter box changed altogether (covered box to uncovered box or vice versa). For example, some cats do not like to feel “cornered in,” while others want their privacy, and some want privacy and an escape route.
Dirty litter box. Some cats simply will not use a dirty litter box—even a slightly dirty one.
Not enough litter boxes per number of cats you have. The rule of thumb is one litter box per cat plus one more. I know it seems like a lot, but better safe than sorry.
Too many cats occupying the same household. Some cats cannot handle living in a multiple cat household. Are there enough rooms in your house for cats to get away from each other if they want to? Are they all getting along?
Any household changes. New roommate? New smells? New routine?
Now from the Team:
“In a previous article, ‘Connecting with Our Pets,’ we briefly touched on the idea that our pets incarnate on planet Earth to learn about and experience emotion from us. We will go into much more depth about that in a future article, but for now consider the concept that there are “simple” emotions and “complex” emotions; our pets pick up on the simple ones: love, joy, fear/anxiety and anger. More complex emotions would be sympathy, empathy, jealousy, etc., which animals rarely experience. Often people think their pet is feeling jealous, when in reality, it is anxiety over perceived changes in social structure/dynamics.
“Obviously, dogs—and even cats—can be trained to do simple tasks like finding hidden treats or learning to sit and stay, for example. More evolved animals have the intellectual capacity to figure out how to open doors, use the toilet instead of the litter box, work as service animals in many capacities, etc. Although they have the capacity to feel anger, pets lack the specific mental ability to plot strategy against others, including their owners. Revenge is only for humans!
“However, the one thing our pets do very well is to pick up on our emotional states. In fact, that is precisely how they learn about emotions so that they can evolve. Just like humans, our pets have more or less experience than others with living on Earth and integrating emotion. Some pets handle negative emotions more easily than others, while others are highly sensitive. Very sensitive animals may comfort their distressed owners, while others “freak out.”
“So, our question to you (if you have eliminated all of Rhonda’s potential causes) is:
“What is going in your life that is creating an emotional imbalance in you? If you are feeling nervous/anxious/stressed, depressed, or even physically unwell, your cat will definitely pick up on that. Again, some cats can feel those emotions and allow them to flow through them, while others deeply integrate them.
“Urinating and defecating is one way in which cats seek to rebalance themselves. When they are feeling very imbalanced, in that moment they may lose their ability to discern where the proper place to relieve themselves is. Once they have relieved themselves, and feel better, they may then associate the spot where they went as a “comfort” zone. Further, they may choose to go in a spot that feels comforting to them, such as your clothes, furniture, or anything else that smells like you.”
Bach Flower essences can often help with this type of behavior. I recommend the book “The Holistic Animal Handbook,” by Kate Solisti-Mattelon and Patrice Mattelon. It has an excellent section for determining which remedy may be right for your pet.
Finally, punishment is never an option. Cats do not respond to any negative reinforcement and the stress they feel from being punished may well exacerbate the problem.
Of course, I am always willing to help you with this issue, if necessary. You may contact me to schedule an appointment at 404.422.8751 or firstname.lastname@example.org
©2017 Rhonda Weisberg