Cats make excellent additions to any family, but when they’re avoiding the litter box and eliminating in inappropriate places, it can make for a stressful experience for everyone. The good news is, there are a number of common reasons why felines may avoid using their litter box, and most of them are pretty easy to correct.

First and foremost, you should have your cat examined thoroughly by your Fayetteville vet to make sure there are no underlying medical causes for your cat’s elimination problems. Once you have a clean bill of health, consider these 7 potential causes and what you can do to address them accordingly.

It’s dirty.

Cats are naturally clean creatures, and they’re also quite finicky. If you’re not cleaning your kitty’s litter box enough, that may be the reason he or she is choosing a different place to go. We recommend scooping at least once per day and changing the litter once or twice a week.

The location isn’t appealing. If your cat isn’t comfortable going to the bathroom where you’ve placed his or her litter box, chances are you’ll be finding little “surprises” elsewhere. It should be placed in an area that is easy for your cat to access and not near anything that might cause stress, such as noisy appliances.

Type of litter.

There are just about as many different kinds of litter as there are kinds of cats, and the one you’ve chosen may not be favorable to your picky pet. Try changing from one type to another and see if that solves the problem.

Litter box style.

Some cats prefer the privacy and safety of enclosed litter boxes, while others feel better using open containers. If you’re dealing with inappropriate elimination, changing the style of box you’re using may just do the trick.


Cats are creatures of habits, and any change to their home environment – even something as simple as moving furniture – can cause stress and anxiety, which can present itself through litter box avoidance. Check with your vet if you believe this may be the case.

Territorial issues.

If you have multiple cats in your home, litter box avoidance may be the result of a territorial dispute. Try providing multiple litter boxes located in different areas of your home and see if that resolves the issue.


If your male cat hasn’t been neutered, what you’re dealing with may actually be spraying, which many intact males engage in. The easiest way to solve this issue is by having your pet fixed.

Having a cat – or several – in the home can be a wonderful experience, but if you’re also dealing with cleaning up messes from outside the litter box, it may not be. Carefully consider each of these common reasons for litter box avoidance and see if the simple suggested solutions work for you. If not, your Fayetteville vet may be able to provide more detailed advice and guidance for addressing and overcoming the problem once and for all.