It’s common for a cat experiencing discomfort upon elimination to associate the box with the pain. It may also be that your cat can’t make it to the box in time due to discomfort. Cats who are declawed may continue to feel pain long after the healing period. Some cats’ paws remain sensitive for the rest of their lives and the texture of the litter may be too uncomfortable for them.
There are so many reasons not to declaw your cat and this is just one of them. Would you want to use a toilet that is never flushed? Cats are very clean animals and if the box is too dirty they will seek other arrangements. Scoop the litter box at least twice a day and completely wash out the box monthly. If you’re not using scoopable litter then wash out the box on a weekly basis. The truth is, a covered box isn’t cat-friendly. A covered box often makes the cat feel confined.
Covered boxes also create more odor because air doesn’t get in there to dry the soiled litter. My biggest complaint with a covered box is that it prevents the cat from having escape potential. Choose a box based on the size of your cat. If there’s a litter box issue, then you also need one extra box. If you live with just one cat but you have a home with more than one level then there should be a box on each level. In a multicat household, scatter boxes around the home and don’t have them lined up in one room. You don’t want a cat developing a litter box aversion problem because he’s afraid to cross the path of another cat in order to get into the one room where all the boxes are located.
Place a box in each cat’s preferred area. It’s also easy for urine to form pools in the folds of the plastic and that creates an odor problem. Since cats are very tactile you also have to keep in mind how the plastic may create discomfort when a cat is trying to dig and cover his waste. If you don’t want to create an odor problem, put an adequate amount of litter in the box and keep the level consistent. In general, about 3 inches of litter is a good amount. As you scoop, periodically top off the litter with a bit more to keep a consistent amount.
In general, cats like an unscented, sand-like substrate. Cats also don’t want to smell all the flowery, perfumed litters. Keep in mind how close your cat’s nose will be to the litter when he’s in the box. Texture is also important when it comes to litter. There are so many litters on the market that are created to appeal to the convenience of the cat parent but in many cases they are just a litter box problem waiting to happen. While some cats may prefer the texture of an alternative litter, most prefer an unscented, soft, scoopable litter. Is your cat stressed out?
Cats are creatures of habit who don’t adjust well to abrupt changes or chaotic environments. A litter box avoidance problem may be the result of your cat being too fearful to even peek his head out from under the bed. Electronic self-cleaning boxes have so many downsides that I don’t even know where to start. Many of them have motors that are frightening. Some are so big but the actual surface area for the cat is too small. Many self-cleaning boxes have covers as well.
Even though some of these boxes are timed to not activate the cleaning until 10 minutes after the cat has left the box it doesn’t account for another cat entering. Some rakes in the boxes easily clog when there’s a large clump due to diarrhea. The other important downside to a self-cleaning box is that you are prevented from monitoring what is or isn’t happening in the litter box. When you clean the box it’s an opportunity to check on your cat’s health. It’s during cleaning time that you may notice constipation, diarrhea, a larger-than-normal urine clump or no urine clump at all. Strong-smelling household cleansers may leave enough of a strong scent on the plastic box that it drives the cat away. When you clean the box use bleach that is heavily diluted in hot water or you can even use dish soap that is very diluted. When you’re done cleaning you don’t want to have any traces of scent on the plastic. To give you an idea of how sensitive a cat’s nose is, he has 67 million scent receptors compared to the 5 million that humans have. These mats are designed to catch the litter that gets trapped on the cat’s paws as he exits the litter box.