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How to "unlearn" a litterbox location?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
My 2 (brother/sister, 2yrs old) cats have always used a litterbox in the basement, and they've never had a problem peeing anywhere inappropriate (except for the occasional illness).

Recently one of them was in the hospital for a urinary blockage, and we had to confine him to the upstairs bathroom for a few days (with his own separate litterbox). Now he's out of "confinement" but we've temporarily left the litterbox in the bathroom so that he doesn't forget and have an accident somewhere.

I'd like to remove the litterbox and re-train him to go down to the basement (it's our ONLY bathroom and it's small, so it's hard to walk through it without stepping in the litterbox--or accidentally dipping the shower towel into it while drying off, as I learned the other day. This is further complicated by the fact that my wife is pregnant and I want to keep the litterbox in a place she doesn't frequent).

What's the best/quickest way to train him to go back to using the basement litterbox? I've considered moving it step-by-step to the basement (a few feet per day), but this would require it to spend at least a few days in the living room, dining room, and kitchen, which is unacceptable.

If I simply remove the upstairs one and keep the bathroom door closed, will he remember that there's another one in the basement? What if I confine him to the basement for a day until he gets used to using that one again? Any ideas?

post #2 of 7
Well, for two cats you ideally should have at least two litter boxes (event better, 3) and, again, in a perfect world, one box on each level of your home. The boxes shouldn't be lined up right next to each other. Behaviorists always suggest moving the boxes slowly (even inch by inch).

I suppose you could try just to move the box downstairs, taking him down there and showing him the box, but realize that if there are any accidents, it's not the cat's fault. Also, with him coming off a blockage, I guess I'd err in the direction of providing too many boxes and convenient locations, rather than have him encounter any problems whatsoever when it comes time to pee.

You also might considering using a box with Cat Attract litter, to help encourage him to use the box. I know it can be awkward - I have one box in my utility room, and the other in the second bedroom's closet, which I keep open. I really should get a third box myself, but I sort of hate using either my guest bathroom or the dining room for it. But, I will if I have to someday.

Good luck - and I'm glad your boy had a good recovery from his blockage.
post #3 of 7
I agree with darlili about having a box for each cat plus one and on every level of your home, especially with a cat with a history of blackages because you want him to be able to go when he needs to, not hold it until he gets to the destination.

They do make all kinds screens and even covered boxes that you could camouflage the boxes if in another room besides the bathroom.

I hope he gets well really soon.
post #4 of 7
I'd forgotten about the pretty boxes - you see ads in the back of Cat Fancy or on the net - some of them are really furniture quality. Some of them maintain the feel of an open box (which is important to many cats) yet screen the box itself for the casual viewer.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Well they've only had one box, in the basement, for their whole lives (2 years so far) and we've never had any problems whatsoever. When they need to go they just head downstairs. I know people recommend more boxes but it's simply never been necessary for us and I'd rather not open that can of worms if I don't have to. Our house is small and there are no good places for more litterboxes, plus we're trying to prepare the house for a baby, and we don't want the little one crawling around in litter that's been kicked out or tracked on the floor.

Any other ideas?


post #6 of 7
What I have done and has worked well:

Move the litterbox and put something there for awhile so they couldn't get to the spot even if they wanted to. In your case you could put a hamper or something
post #7 of 7
My kitten is 8 months old and due to being kept in a bathroom until we were sure his fleas were gone and worms and our recent move his box has been moved quite a bit. At our apartment we had two boxes one in our bedroom and one in a downstairs bathroom. So when we moved we kept one in our bedroom and placed one in the kitchen on the 1st floor. After two weeks I ditched the one in our bedroom and he is currently using only the kitchen box. When I place his box in a new place, I make sure that there is either some pee or poo in it so he smells his scent and I always take him to it and place him in it and say to him "thats where you go potty now".

He hasn't not used the box since the 2nd say we had him--a mere 12 weeks old and covered in fleas and worms in his belly.

Good luck
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