How To Prevent Cat Litter Box Problems-Clever Tricks To Avoid Messes

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 05/11/22 •  11 min read
Litter scoop inside the box

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Did you know there are a few things you can do to prevent cat litter box problems?

Recent studies have shown that cats can experience stress, mental anguish, and behavioral problems when they are not given a proper litter box environment.

But the fact is that there are many more problems than any pet owner could ever realize.

Some cat owners don’t think about this or don’t want to hear about it.

But those that have experienced cat litter box problems know how annoying and stressful they can become.

Every cat owner who has more than one cat has probably faced a situation when, no matter what you do, the cat litter box isn’t as clean as it should be. Sometimes for no apparent reason.

Often, people who enjoy the company of felines do not wish to deal with the inconveniences of these problems.

Therefore, in this article, I will demonstrate how to avoid these problems altogether, by giving some pointers on preventing cat litter box issues.

I will provide you with all of the best strategies, advice, and tips on how to prevent cat litter box problems and also reduce their severity.

Why is my cat messing up her litter box?

Here’s how to prevent litter box problems:

1.     Choose the right litter box:

Cats have sensitive noses and can be picky about their litter boxes. Some cats prefer uncovered boxes, while others feel more secure in enclosed spaces.

Try a few different styles and see what works for your cat.

2.     Litter box size:

Choose the right size for your litter box. Cats prefer a litter box that is large enough for them to fit in comfortably without touching the sides.

As a general rule of thumb, a litter box should be one and a half times longer than your cat.

In other words, if your cat is 18 inches long (or 15 inches from nose to base of tail), get a litter box that is at least 27 inches long.

A covered litter box might give your cat more privacy and keep the area cleaner.

3.     Place the litter box in a strategic position:

Litter boxes should always be in quiet, low-traffic areas that are easily accessible for your cat.

Avoid placing them in busy walkways, or near loud appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers.

4.     Keep the litter box clean:

Many cats won’t use a dirty litter box, so scoop the waste out daily and change out all the litter once a week (or more often if you have multiple cats).

Cleaning is especially important when your cat is sick – he may associate his illness with the smell of his waste, and start using other sites as his toilet.

Clean the litter box with soap and water weekly. Do not use strong-smelling cleansers like pine or citrus as these may deter cats from using the box, particularly if they have a urine marking problem or an aversion to the smell.

5.     Litter type:

Some cats prefer unscented clumping litter while others prefer scoopable, non-clumping, paper pellet, or other types of litter.

Clumping clay litters will help you keep the litter clean because it clumps around urine and feces, making it easy to scoop out.

These litters are also better at controlling odors than other types of litter.

Avoid strongly scented litters as these may be aversive for some cats, particularly those that have a urine marking problem.

If you use self-cleaning (automatic) litter boxes, keep in mind that some cats do not like them because they are noisy when they cycle and because some find the rakes frightening and will avoid them if possible.

6.     Have multiple litter boxes:

If there’s more than one cat in the household, have one box per cat plus an extra one.

Preferably place them on different levels so the timid or older cat doesn’t have to compete with others for access to it.

7.     Seek Veterinarian Services:

Ensure that you schedule the required visits to the vet for vaccinations and medical examinations.

This will ensure that you rule out any underlying conditions and prevent illnesses from attacking your kitty.

Where should you not put a litter box?

1.     The basement:

Your cat may have trouble navigating stairs, and there’s also the risk of him getting locked in or out when you don’t know it.

Also, most basements have little or no ventilation, which can make their smell even worse than usual.

A garage or basement is never going to be warm enough in winter or cool enough in summer for a cat to want to use the box.

2.     The kitchen:

The odors will just mix into one repulsive stench.

3.     High traffic area:

An area with lots of foot traffic (by the front door). Cats want privacy when they use their litter boxes, so putting them in busy areas will cause your cat to look for an alternate place to use the bathroom.

4.     Near the cat’s food and water:

Cats don’t like to eat near their bathroom.

5.     Near loud appliances:

These include washers and dryers that can scare your cat and make him less likely to use the box.


How can I get my cat to stop pooping on the floor?

If your cat is fond of eliminating in a particular area, say a dark corner, specific spot on the carpet, or a preferred room, then it is time to take action.

Do not do this if your cat is having litter box problems

Frequently Asked Questions:

How often should you change out all the kitty litter?

The general rule of thumb is to scoop at least once a day and change it entirely every week.

If you have more than one cat, add one extra litter box and change it twice a week.

How often should a cat litter box be cleaned out?

You should clean the litter box once a week by completely dumping out everything in the box and washing it with soap and water.

You don’t want to use any harsh chemicals that could make your cat sick, so stick with plain soap and water.

Once you clean the litter box, refill it with fresh litter and place it back exactly where it was before you started cleaning it.

What do you do if your cat stops using the litter box?

First, contact your vet to ensure there is no underlying medical condition.

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a combination of diseases with multiple causes that target the urinary tract of felines.

It involves symptoms such as painful irritation of the urinary bladder to chronic dangerous conditions that require urgent attention. Health conditions should not be ignored.

Because cats with FLUTD experience painful irritation while using the litter box, they associate the pain with using the box and abandon the box eventually.

This causes them not to use the box and look for alternative places to eliminate outside the litter box such as on your favorite flower pot.

Here are common clinical signs and symptoms that you should look out for and inform the veterinarian officer immediately.

If these litter box habits are detected early enough, this condition can be cured or managed pretty well with long-term treatment and dietary management.


First and foremost, if you want to avoid litter box problems, get a cat! Just kidding.

The best thing you can do for a cat is to take it to a good vet.

The second best thing is to keep these seven things in mind, and you should be able to prevent many litter box problems from even occurring.

Litter box issues don’t happen all of the time, they tend to show up when there is a change in routine or environment.

When your cat isn’t feeling comfortable using a litter box, or it’s being used for its intended purpose at the wrong time.

This will make them feel stressed and anxious, which can lead to the avoidance of the litter box altogether.

The key to preventing cat litter box problems is to be sensitive to your kitty’s needs and remain flexible with your schedule and home environment.

Davis Wilkins

Davis Wilkins is a dedicated cat lover, with three cats under his care. He grew up in a cat-loving family, nurturing these feline friends. As a result, he purposed to share his cat knowledge with the universe. Wilkins has been writing professionally for over four years, specializing in feline care with a keen interest in litter box care and handling. He hopes to help other feline lovers achieve their pet care goals.

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