There are a number of medical conditions that can cause cats to urinate or defecate outside of the litter box (see Dr Hershey's article entitled "Help! My cat is urinating outside the box" on our website). It's important to work with your veterinarian to first determine and address the underlying cause for inappropriate elimination, but we also want to make the litter box the "Taj Mahal" of bathroom spaces to help attract your kitty back to good elimination behaviors.
Here are some tips to help make the litter box more attractive to your cat:
1. Make sure you have 1 more box than the number of cats in your house – if you have 2 cats, you should have 3 boxes, and so on.
2. Remove all hoods. Many cats dislike hooded boxes and will choose to eliminate elsewhere.
3. Scoop each box at least once daily, since many cats are EXTREMELY fastidious.
4. Make sure boxes are located in quiet areas where there are no startling noises (e.g., a buzzer from a dryer) that could cause an aversion to using the box.
5. Don’t overfill – Most cats don’t like more than 1-2 inches of litter and some even prefer just a tiny amount scattered across the bottom of the box. This is especially true for cats with arthritis pain (think about trying to walk in deep sand at the beach!). You can offer a couple options at first to see what your cat prefers.