How to litter box train an adult cat that periodically does its business in one spot of the house?



The cat is 4 years old and for the most part is well trained when it comes to the litter box, but about once every week he will do his business either on the floor of the living room – right across his litter box, or next to the front door. I always make sure his litter box is clean, so I don’t see any reason for him to do his business elsewhere. How do I train him to only do his business in the litter box and not on the floor? Are there any products or reinforcement techniques that would work? Could there be a reason why he avoids his litter box sometimes or does he do it “just because”? I’d appreciate some answers from people who understand a cat’s mentality a bit.

Best answer:

Answer by bill g
For some reason this cat has marked its territory in that one spot. Try calling a trainer and ask them what to treat the carpet with so that the cat will loose interest in that area.

Wish I could have helped more as I am sure it is annoying.

Good Luck

8 thoughts on “How to litter box train an adult cat that periodically does its business in one spot of the house?

  1. Cats tend to have surface and location preferences for where, and on what, they like to eliminate. Most cats prefer a loose, sandy substance, which is why they will use a litter box. It’s only when their preferences include the laundry basket, the bed or the Persian rug, that normal elimination behavior becomes a problem. With careful analysis of your cat’s environment, specific factors that have contributed to the litter box problem can usually be identified and changed, so that your cat will again use the litter box for elimination.

    Some common reasons why cats don’t use the litter box are: an aversion to the box, a preference for a particular surface not provided by the box, a preference for a particular location where there is no box, or a combination of all three. You’ll need to do some detective work to determine the reason your cat is house soiling. Sometimes, the reason the litter box problem initially started may not be the same reason it’s continuing. For example, your cat may have stopped using the litter box because of a urinary tract infection, and has now developed a surface preference for carpet and a location preference for the bedroom closet. You would need to address all three of these factors in order to resolve the problem.

    Cats don’t stop using their litter boxes because they’re mad or upset and are trying to get revenge for something that “offended” or “angered” them. Because humans act for these reasons, it’s easy for us to assume that our pets do as well. Animals don’t act out of spite or revenge, so it won’t help to give your cat special privileges in the hope that she’ll start using the litter box again.

    Medical Problems
    It’s common for cats to begin eliminating outside of their litter box when they have a medical problem. For example, a urinary tract infection or crystals in the urine can make urination very painful. Cats often associate this pain with the litter box and begin to avoid it. If your cat has a house-soiling problem, check with your veterinarian first to rule out any medical problems for the behavior. Cats don’t always act sick, even when they are, and only a trip to the veterinarian for a thorough physical examination can rule out a medical problem.

    Cleaning Soiled Areas
    Because animals are highly motivated to continue soiling an area that smells like urine or feces, it’s imperative that you thoroughly clean the soiled areas (see our handout: “Successful Cleaning To Remove Pet Odors And Stains”).

    Aversion To The Litter Box
    Your cat may have decided that the litter box is an unpleasant place to eliminate if:

    The box is not clean enough for her.
    She has experienced painful urination or defecation in the box due to a medical problem.
    She has been startled by a noise while using the box.
    She has been “ambushed” while in the box either by another cat, a child, a dog, or by you, if you were attempting to catch her for some reason.
    She associates the box with punishment (someone punished her for eliminating outside the box, then placed her in the box).
    What You Can Do
    Keep the litter box extremely clean. Scoop at least once a day and change the litter completely every four to five days. If you use scoopable litter, you may not need to change the litter as frequently. This will vary according to how many cats are in the household, how many litter boxes you have, and how large the cats are that are using the box or boxes. A good guideline is that if you can smell the box, then you can be sure it’s offensive to your cat as well.
    Add a new box in a different location than the old one and use a different type of litter in the new box. Because your cat has decided that her old litter box is unpleasant, you’ll want to make the new one different enough that she doesn’t simply apply the old, negative associations to the new box.
    Make sure that the litter box isn’t near an appliance that makes noise or in an area of the house that your cat doesn’t frequent.
    If ambushing is a problem, try to create more than one exit from the litter box, so that if the “ambusher” is waiting by one area, your cat always has an escape route.
    Surface Preferences
    All animals develop preferences for a particular surface on which they like to eliminate. These preferences may be established early in life, but they may also change overnight for reasons that we don’t always understand. Your cat may have a surface preference if:

    She consistently eliminates on a particular texture. For example, soft-textured surfaces, such as carpet, bedding or clothing, or slick-textured surfaces, such as tile, cement, bathtubs or sinks.
    She frequently scratches on this same texture after elimination, even if she eliminates in the litter box.
    She is or was previously an outdoor cat and prefers to eliminate on grass or soil.
    What You Can Do
    If your cat is eliminating on soft surfaces, try using a high quality, scoopable litter, and put a soft rug under the litter box.
    If your cat is eliminating on slick, smooth surfaces, try putting just a very thin layer of litter at one end of the box, leaving the other end bare, and put the box on a hard floor.
    If your cat has a history of being outdoors, add some soil or sod to the litter box.
    Make the area where she has been eliminating aversive to her by covering it with an upside down carpet runner or aluminum foil, or by placing citrus-scented cotton balls over the area (see our handout: “Aversives For Cats”).
    Location Preferences
    Your cat may have a location preference if:

    She always eliminates in quiet, protected places, such as under a desk downstairs or in a closet.
    She eliminates in an area where the litter box was previously kept or where there are urine odors.
    She eliminates on a different level of the house from where the litter box is located.
    What You Can Do
    Put at least one litter box on every level of your house.
    Make the area where she has been eliminating aversive to her by covering it with upside down carpet runner or aluminum foil, or by placing citrus-scented cotton balls over the area (see our handout: “Aversives For Cats”) OR
    Put a litter box in the location where your cat has been eliminating. When she has consistently used this box for at least one month, you may gradually move it to a more convenient location at a rate of an inch per day.
    If you catch your cat in the act of eliminating in the house, do something to interrupt her like making a startling noise, but be careful not to scare her. Immediately take her to where the litter box is located and set her on the floor. If she wanders over to the litter box, wait and praise her after she eliminates in the box. If she takes off in another direction, she may want privacy, so watch from afar until she goes back to the litter box and eliminates, then praise her when she does.

    Don’t ever punish your cat for eliminating outside of the litter box. If you find a soiled area, it’s too late to administer a correction. Do nothing but clean it up. Rubbing your cat’s nose in it, taking her to the spot and scolding her, or any other type of punishment, will only make her afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Animals don’t understand punishment after the fact, even if it’s only seconds later. Punishment will do more harm than good.

    Other Types Of House Soiling Problems
    Marking/Spraying: To determine if your cat is marking or spraying, please see our handout: “Territorial Marking In Dogs And Cats.”
    Fears Or Phobias: When animals become frightened, they may lose control of their bladder and/or bowels. If your cat is afraid of loud noises, strangers or other animals, she may house soil when she is exposed to these stimuli (see our handout: “The Fearful Cat”).

  2. i had an older cat that would do that sometimes. i was told to put a smaller litter box in that spot and move it slowly to the original. he may also want to go outside if he is going right in front of the door. maybe just maybe there is some stress he is reacting to in the home like a new person or something. see if there is a change at the times he does this and try to make him more comfortable. there are some products out there for making a pet more relaxed. you can find them at petsmart or any other pet store. good luck and enjoy your little man

  3. sometimes cats just have an attitude problem, and that is just what they do. even if it is a fixed male the problem could continue. if it isn’t anything serious like a uri, try putting a little bit of outside soil in the litter box, mixing it with the litter. sometimes their instinct comes into play and they do what they must. good luck! and don’t give up!

  4. Treat the carpet with an enzyme product designed to remove pet odors. You should be able to get some at a quality pet store. Try putting the litter box in that spot. Then, once the cat starts using it, gradually move it towards the spot you want it to be. If he goes back to soiling that spot, you may have to leave the box there. It could be that the cat is having trouble settling in and just trying to make the place his own or he could be rebelling about something that he doesn’t like. One of my cats whom I have had since he was kitten, just out of the blue, he started going in a corner behind our couch. I couldn’t believe it. He’d always been so good about the litter box. It turns out, my eldest son had moved to a new apartment and had brought some of his things home and they smelled like other cats. As soon as we put those things in the attic, he stopped soiling the floor. The only reason I’m so sure that’s why he did it, was I watched the little stinker sniffing my son’s things, rub his cheek glands on them then run to the corner and squat.

  5. When I was housetraining my rabbit, I watched where he went, the first couple of times and then put a litter box in that place. He was actually extremely good about doing it in there after that, I honestly can’t remember one time when he did it anywhere else in the house. I do remember that it was a small space, in between a cupboard and a wall, it was also a quiet area of the house and because of the furniture (it was a tall cupboard) it was a warm, draught free area, too (we had aircon in other places in the house.) Check out where you have his litter tray now. Is it draughty, cold or a busy area where he feels he’ll get disturbed? I’m sure that few of us would like to use the toilet if it was placed in a cold, draughty high traffic area of the house! If needed, move it, particularly if you think his occasional accident-area is a more welcoming place to your cat. If this still doesn’t stop his accidents or if he changes where he goes once you move his litter tray, you’re going to have to put more hard work in to rid him of his habit! Many cats hate water, so the use of a little spray bottle when he squatting to pee/poop where he shouldn’t might do the trick. You may need to stay in a lot the first week or so, but he should get the idea quickly after that!
    The best of luck!

  6. Take your cat to a vet. It may be possible that the cat has a urinary tract infection and this is consistant with that behavior. You may have to change his diet. If your cat checks out o.k. then it could be a reason that something has changed to upset him especially since the litter box is clean. Are there other cats in the house? Is there something that has changed his daily routine? Once they start going in an area it is hard to stop as they can still smell where they have been. There are some things to use to clean the area and another suggestion is to soak a towel or fabric with lemon juice and let it dry and lay over the area. They don’t like citrus and will avoid the area around it. I have also read that the litter box can still hold odors and when it gets old you should throw it away and just get another litter box. Also just have a second litter box in the house too, it may help to give him another private area for him to go.

  7. Get a litter box or if you already have one put him in the box he might be new to this so take the front paws in each hand and bring them back and forth at least a have in hour each day until he get the use to it

  8. Is he neutered? A male cat that is not neutered will spray urine to mark his territory- there’s no solution for that except to neuter him now.

    If it’s not that, there are a few options. Try a different type of litter box- larger, smaller, covered, uncovered, whatever is different from what he has. Also, try a different litter- if your current one is scented, perhaps he doesn’t like the smell. Or the texture. Slowly change things one by one until the problem seems to go away.

    There is one brand of cat litter called Cat Attract, it is supposed to be treated with a substance that gives cats the urge to eliminate there. You could give that a shot, it’s found in any Petsmart.

    Also, make sure you’re REALLY cleaning up those messes to prevent remarking. Buy an enzyme cleaner from the pet store. SOAK the area with enzyme cleaner. Let it sit, and then mist it with water. Blot everything up, and let it dry. Once it dries, go back with vinegar and water and wash the spot again.

    There is one more product called No-Mark, it is a spray that is supposed to repress the urge to eliminate in that area. There is a spray called Feliway that claims to do the same thing. If you’d like, you can finish your cleaning efforts by spraying the entire area with this spray- although don’t spray too close to the cat box or you may have a negative effect.

    Good luck!

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