UTIs can be very painful for cats and unfortunately they don't understand why they go through so much agony. They don't know why it hurts to pee or poop every time they visit the litter box, and that means the innocent litter box becomes the suspected source of their traumatic experience.
Cats also have amazing memories: it helps them remember what's good, bad, or painful. This means they will likely continue to avoid the litter box even after they have recovered from the infection.
If your cat is going through this complicated situation, we're here to help! In this article, we discuss how to train a cat to use the litter box after suffering from a UTI. Luckily, you can use these tips to remind your cat of the right spot to defecate.
Why did my cat stop using the litter box after a UTI?
Cats are creatures of habit. They like to keep their daily routines unchanged. They prefer their meals to be served at the same time each day, and some also like to schedule their playtime and nap time. As you can see, a cat's daily life revolves around habits and is based on predictability.
But what happens when your kitten suddenly avoids her litter box and relieves herself somewhere else? For a cat parent, this problem can be very frustrating!
Behavioral changes in cats are usually related to anxiety or medical issues. An example of this is when a cat has difficulty urinating due to a urinary tract infection and avoids using the litter box. The cat associates the trauma and pain with the litter box as it cannot understand that it has an infection. Unfortunately, even after the infection has cleared, most cats do not return to their old habits to avoid the previous painful experience.
But we humans know that all the pain that poor kitty is feeling has nothing to do with his litter box! If you think your cat has decided to change its behavior and has chosen the living room carpet as a place to go to the bathroom, you need to re-teach it to use its litter box. Otherwise, it becomes a recurring problem. As much as we love our pets, no furry parent wants to deal with a smelly mess in random places around the house.
How to litter box train a cat after a UTI
Positive reinforcement is by far the most successful way to train a cat to use the litter box. There are several ways to make Fluffy feel more comfortable in her job, just take a look at the tips below:
1. Move the litter box to another location
Sometimes it's the location that cats associate with suffering rather than the litter box itself. To solve the problem, simply move their litter box to a different location in your home.
When deciding on a new location for the litter box, also consider your cat's preferences. Keep in mind that many cats don't like going to the bathroom in noisy or public places, so if this happens they will continue to look for a place where they are more comfortable. Try putting the crate in a more secluded area where your pet can enjoy some privacy, such as B. in an additional bedroom closet.
2. Know your cat's preferences
Has your cat repeatedly come into the same area just to pee or poop? If so, why not move the litter box to her new favorite spot? Maybe Fluffy will feel more comfortable in this place for now.
This is a great way to help your cat return to its litter box. Check if that works and after a few days try moving the crate back to its original location. If not, put the box back in the area for a few more days and try again.
3. Keep the litter box clean.
Cats are among the neatest animals in the world. They don't like being dirty or having to go through stale urine or feces when they need to go to the bathroom. Even if your cat hasn't had a UTI, she may find another place to defecate if you don't clean her litter box every day.
For this reason, it is important to remove the box and remove the clumps of sand at least twice a day. You should also regularly clean the litter box thoroughly with soap and water to avoid odor residue. If smell is particularly important to you, you can pour some baking soda into the box after cleaning. Just make sure you don't use scented cleaning products!
4. Use positive reinforcement like toys.
Playing with their favorite toys near the litter box can help your cat create fond memories of the litter box. You can play with her near the crate to encourage her to spend more time in the area. Again, this technique uses positive reinforcement, which should help ward off bad memories of your painful struggles.
5. Switch to unscented sand
Cats are so sensitive to smells that the negative association with their litter box can extend to the litter itself. You can quickly improve this problem by switching to a different litter. Switching to unscented litter that is the same size and texture as the old litter is usually the best approach. Remember, you want your cat to feel like this is a new, pristine place to pee and poop. At the same time, she should feel like this is the only place she should go when nature calls!
6. Set the depth of the arena
Sometimes adding an extra layer of litter to the tray may not make your cat happier. Some cats even prefer a thin layer of sand that allows them to dig to the bottom. The reason for this is unconfirmed, but it's speculated that the cats like to know they've dug their droppings as deep as possible to hide their scent from predators. Therefore, simply changing the litter depth can be helpful in training your cat to use the litter box after recovering from a UTI.
7. Make public areas less inviting to urinate.
If your cat always returns to the same area to urinate, you need to make that area of your home less attractive if you want her to use the litter box. While this may pose some inconveniences, it will be worth it in the long run.
For example, if your cat likes to pee on your living room curtains, pull them back so there is plenty of space between them and the floor. If your cat likes to pee under the bed, you can add a motion-activated LED light to your room for a while to discourage your cat from peeing where she knows she's being watched. You can also spray lemon water in areas you don't want your cat to enter; Cats hate the strong smell of lemon and that should be enough to put them off!
8. Consider buying a new litter box.
Even if you do everything in your power to eliminate the old litter box smell and buy as many alternative litter boxes as you can, your cat may never use the same litter box again. A cat's ability to associate is amazing and you may never forget how you felt using that litter box in the past. Therefore, a new litter box can be the perfect gift for your cat when you want to get them used to littering again.
What to do when Fluffy makes a mess
Cats tend to urinate in the same place over and over again, and their smell has a lot to do with it. Even if you think you've done a good job cleaning up the mess, your cat may still detect an odor that you can't.
If you are having trouble with this issue, we recommend using a quality enzymatic cleaner such asQuitamanchas Rocco & Roxie Oxy, which targets animal urine and feces. Since even the smallest drop can encourage your cat to urinate again in the same spot, you should also spray the surrounding area. By cleaning the area well, your cat will be less likely to urinate in that area. Hopefully this should encourage them to return to their litter box little by little!
Finally, don't force your cat to adapt right away.
To succeed in this retraining, he must be allowed to use it of his own accord! While you can easily persuade a pup to pee anywhere, cats are an entirely different matter. They are independent animals by nature and do not like being forced into anything they are not comfortable with.
The cat retraining process can be quite challenging, but it will be worth it in the long run! All you need is a little patience and love to show them the right place. Learn to trust the process, and sooner or later you'll find your furry friend visiting the designated pee toilet just like before!
It can be both frustrating and worrying when you find your cat peeing or pooping outside of the litter box! Luckily, there are ways you can help your cat get back to using the litter box. Just remember not to punish her if she messes up in the wrong place! Instead, use the positive reinforcements mentioned in this post. Eventually, with patience and time, your cat will feel better about going to the litter box like it used to.
Bild: istockphoto.com / Siarhei SHUNTSIKAU