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Kitten Won't Use Litter Box Anymore

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My husband and I adopted a 10 week old kitten last week. She was vaccinated and spayed, and we brought her home. After carrying her to the litter box a few times, she started going to it on her own, which we were excited about. For 3 days she had no problems at all. However, one day she was getting into her box, and a little flap that is on the front (it's a grate that covers a container for the litter scoop and traps litter off her paws as she gets out) swung up and smacked her in the face. I apparently hadn't snapped the lid down properly after cleaning the box. She wasn't hurt, just startled, but has since refused to use her litter box. Instead she potties next to our bedroom door. We switched out the litter, taped the grate down so it's no longer a problem for her, and even tried some of the Kitten-Attract litter, and she still won't use it.

If we see her about to potty by the door her pick her up, tell her no, and place her in the litter box. She will use the box then, but won't go into it herself. I cleaned the carpet where she went in hopes that she won't smell it there any longer and associate it with where to potty. She's been seen by a vet for a respiratory infection she had, and he didn't think that there was any reason for her to stop using the box. My husband and I have run out of ideas on how to get her to start using the box again. Any ideas?
post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 
Some other things we've tried:
We tried putting the litter box by the door to get her to use it there, she went around the side of it to potty. Tried putting her in the master bathroom (where the box is) and shutting the door, she urinated in front of the box. Took the lid of the litter box, although she didn't seem to mind it before- hasn't made a difference. We're making sure not to punish her for going potty, just firmly telling her "no", and then moving her to the box even if she's already gone potty. Our next idea was to maybe try a different cat box.
post #3 of 8
I was gonna suggest you try a completely different box. And also be sure its not too deep where she might have a problem getting in and out. Try confining her to the bathroom with pan for a few days then gradually moving it to where you want it.
post #4 of 8
It sounds like your kitten now associates litter boxes (at least that one; hopefully not all of them) with getting frightened. Since cats don't like to be startled at all, she now wants no part of the thing that scared her. Cats are remarkably good at making associations; unfortunately sometimes they make incorrect or absurd ones, which causes problems for the caregivers.

I agree completely with GoldenKitty45's suggestions. I would also recommend that you...

(1) Make sure that you completely clean the areas outside of the litter box where she eliminated with an enzymatic cleaner like Nature's Miracle or Nok Out. You need to use an enzymatic cleaner because "regular" cleaners will not get the job done. Those areas will smell clean to you, but a cat's sense of smell is something like 20 times more acute than ours. If she is able to smell that she went to these areas before, she will be drawn to them and will more likely than not continue to eliminate in those places.

(2) Make more litter boxes available to her. At 10 weeks, she is just a baby and won't be able to control her bladder and bowels effectively just yet. And when she starts to play, she'll often become so engrossed in that activity that by the time she realizes that she has to go to the bathroom, it's too late to make it to the box. Plus you just adopted her and she'll need a little bit of time to get orientated inside of your house and learn where everything, including the litter boxes, is. The general rule is one litter box per cat, plus one extra. Until she demonstrated consistent use of a litter box over a decent period of time, you might want to have even more available to her, if space permits.

In the Behavior forum there is a sticky regarding inappropriate peeing. You might find that helpful.

Congratulations on your new family member and keep us posted on how things proceed with your kitten. Pictures are always nice too!
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
So we've tried replacing her box, and confining her to the bathroom where we keep it. For 2 days she has been using the litter box to potty! Cross your fingers that she keeps up the good work. Thanks for the suggestions and help, I'll try and put up a picture of her soon.
post #6 of 8
Glad to hear she has been using the litter box. I hope it continues.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
It's been almost a month now, and Catsby is doing wonderfully! She exclusively uses her litter boxes (one in the bedroom and one in the master bath), and we were even able to go back to her regular litter vs. the spendy Kitten Attract we were trying to lure her back to the boxes. She will even meow at the bedroom door if we're all in the living room together so she can get into her litter box.

The only hang ups so far have been the need to be vigilant about keeping the shower curtain shut, as she decided one night that the tub was an ok place to potty, and penchant for playing with my hair ties and tossing them into the cat box. We were scared she had actually eaten one and passed it the first time we found it (she had managed to potty right on top of it :P) but we watched her later and she likes to throw them across the bathroom. Thanks for the suggestions everyone
Here's 2 pictures of our wee beastie... she is very good at posing
post #8 of 8
Glad things are going Smoothly!!!
Your Patience has paid off -- ENJOY her!!
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