Stress and cleanliness associated with litter tray issues

Cat litter tray

Cats are usually very clean animals, but owners sometimes face issues with their cats using their litter tray.

For example, cats may soil elsewhere in the house or they may simply avoid using the litter tray and go outside instead.

Urinary tract infections and other health problems can be behind such behaviour, so the first step is to take your cat to the vet, explained doctoral researcher Salla Mikkola from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhälsan Research Center in Finland, co-author of a recent study on cat litter tray issues.

Feline stress is another significant risk factor, which can be caused, for example, by other pets in the household, boredom or changes in the environment. It’s important to consider this and to tackle any potential sources of stress for your cat.

Cats may find the type of litter used or the tray itself unpleasant, preferring to relieve themselves elsewhere. Cats can also learn to associate pain while urinating (linked to a previously treated disease) with the litter tray itself, making them avoid using it.

Litter tray issues were found to be more common in fearful cats and in non-sterilised cats, while older cats and cats living in families with children were fussier about the cleanliness of their litterboxes.

Cats with high sociability towards other cats were less likely to have problems. The fewest problems occurred in cats who were sterilised under four months of age.

To help encourage your cat to use their litter tray, try different types of litter to see which your cat prefers. It may also be worth experimenting with a different style of tray, as some cats prefer higher sides or a covered litter tray.

The litter tray should be situated away from your cat’s food and water areas, in a quiet part of the house.

Make sure you keep the tray and the surrounding area clean, and and all cats in the household should have a litter tray of their own.

With cat insurance from Purely Pets you can choose from 15 levels of Lifetime cover and every customer has access to unlimited video consultations 24/7 with a qualified vet.

Pet Insurance Quote

  • 98% claims paid *
  • Claims paid directly to vets
  • 24/7 vet video consultations
  • Interest free monthly payments