Cats are generally extremely cleanly, and they usually start using a litterbox without any need for training. However, sometimes your cat will mysteriously start defecating or urinating outside of the litterbox. This can be both alarming and messy, often leaving owners mystified as to the cause. Here are just five reasons why it might be happening.
Your cat's litterbox needs to be placed somewhere they will feel safe using it; after all, they will be in a position of vulnerability. If you recently moved the litterbox, it might be in a too high-traffic or exposed area for them to feel comfortable; alternatively, you and your family may suddenly be passing close by the litterbox on a more regular basis. Your cat will also refuse to use a litterbox too close to their food and water bowls, so make sure there is still a good distance.
If you went into a public restroom and found that the toilet hadn't been flushed for a day or two, would you use it? Unless you were really desperate, you'd probably look for somewhere else, and your cat feels the same. If you've started failing to regularly clean out the litterbox, your cat might have decided it isn't clean enough to use.
3. Painful Urination or Defecation
Cats can come down with many medical conditions that can make urination or defecation painful to perform. They might start associating the pain with the litterbox, then use another location in your house in a result. Most of these illnesses can be treated, so a trip to the vet and the right medication should clear everything up.
4. Old Age
Older cats can start to develop problems using the litterbox. Just like humans, cats tend to slow down as they age, with mobility problems becoming common; some may even develop arthritis. As a result, your cat may be unwilling or unable to get into a litterbox that is far from the floor or has a large lip keeping the sand from the floor. They may also simply not want to make the trip from where they are to where the litterbox is if your house is quite large.
5. Feline Dementia
Old age can also bring the more serious issue of feline dementia. As the condition develops your cat may no longer be able to navigate themselves to the litterbox as quickly or effectively as they used to. Additionally, the stress involved can make them act out by urinating and defecating outside of the litterbox.