Litterbox woes


Q: I put a plastic liner under the litterbox. It spread beyond the box’s edges a few inches in each direction in order to catch any litter that shot out when my cat scratched her feet after “going.” But then she started to refuse to use the box and started to relieve herself on the floor. I removed the plastic and she’s getting used to the box again, but what was that about?

Rochelle Lenard
Durango, Colorado

Dear Ms. Lenard,

A: Cats, like horses, can be all about surfaces. They don’t like to walk on some of them, including plastic. And they hate liners inside the litterbox as well as outside. A few other common litterbox turnoffs:

  • Hood. Some cats are fine with a hood on the litterbox and actually prefer it, but others want no part of it. They’d prefer to do their business out in the open. If you have two cats with different prefer-ences, it’s best to have hoodless and hooded litterboxes.
  • Remote location. We get it. You don’t want to have to look at the litterbox while sitting at your desk or eating or watching television. But if you keep the litterboxes too far from the action — like right next to each other in a far corner of the basement — your cat may opt to relieve herself in a more convenient and accessible spot.
  • Scented detergent. Cats do not appreciate the odors of cleansers and other scented items that might smell pleasant to you. When you clean the litterbox, use hot water with an unscented cleaner.


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