“Tux”, a beautiful five year old, “tuxedo” (black and white) cat has suddenly decided to stop using his litter box. Tux’s parents have no other cats and one ten year old lab. There is also one adult child that lives at the home.
These cases always represent challenging detective work for veterinarians. Is this a medical problem? or is it psychological? Is the patient trying to balance an outside competing neighborhood cat that is marking the home’s windows, doors or bricks? Is he/she ill?
Often a two prong approach is the best for these cases. Dependent upon the patient’s age, diagnostics are selected to ensure there is not a medical reason for the change in elimination habits. We ruled out a medical issue in Tux by ruling out infection, bladder/kidney stones and inflammation. Tux’s parents had also taken our prior advice and created a wonderful “catio” for him to bask in and watch the birds and squirrels, so we didn’t feel environmental enrichment was lacking. The lab was super sweet and never bothered Tux nor affected his access to the litter box.
We also confirmed that Tux’s litterbox was located in the same place (the utility room) and that the litter brand had not been changed BUT after further discussion we did learn the clothes washer had been replaced about the same time Tux decided to stop using the litterbox.
|Another cat questioning this big white box….|
Turns out Tux did not like seeing his reflection in the “front loader” that replaced the “top loader ” the family had had previously. The clients obviously didn’t want to get another washer so soon and were able to coax Tux back into using his litterbox by covering the front of the washer (and thus the reflection) with cardboard. It looks silly, but did the trick.
Its’ hard to always know what our pets are thinking and to see things from their point of view. It can take long conversations with your veterinarian to find the right solution for each case and remedy what initiated the offensive behavior. Sometimes the change that resulted in the litterbox issue can’t be remedied so easily – the only son can’t go to college locally, grandma has to move into the home, or sorry kitty but the new baby is here to stay.
We are skilled in helping clients solve these frustrating cases – give us a try if you have a problem!!
|Never let your cat do this!!|
P.S. While we don’t want our cats to be so fearful of an appliance they avoid using their litterbox — a healthy dose of skepticism can prevent a fatality if your cat likes to sleep on warm clothes. A horrible consequence of a cat just doing what seems natural is to have a dryer turned on with a cat inside.