Is Your Cat Thinking Outside of the Litter Box? Help Your Cat Love the Litter Box

Dr. Rachel Geller, Ed.D. Certified Cat Behavior and Retention Specialist
7 Lessons ()
1. Course Intro 00:00
2. Lesson 1 - The Box 01:07
3. Lesson 2 - Location 07:09
4. Lesson 3 - Litter for the Box 12:46
5. Lesson 4 - Multi-Cat Households 18:01
6. Lesson 5 - Crate Training 21:12
7. Lesson 6 - Cats Love Their Litter Box 24:50

About This Class

Resolve common litter box problems and help your cat to love the box with Rachel Geller, a Humane Society-certified specialist in cat behavior and humane education. 

For cats, the litter box is a central part of a healthy, harmonious home. But with so many common misconceptions and challenges in the way, litter box aversion and inappropriate elimination are devastatingly common.

In fact, inappropriate elimination is the number one reason given when cats are relinquished to shelters. Together with Dr. Rachel Geller, we created this class to help you to avoid the most common litter box mistakes and ensure litter box bliss for your cat. 

From choosing a location for the litter box to choosing the right litter and resolving common causes of aversion, you’ll learn skills and strategies to help your cat establish or reestablish a great relationship with the box.

During this class, you’ll learn: 

  • Which rooms of the house are ideal for a litter box (and which ones cats hate!)
  • Why privacy isn’t as important as you probably think it is
  • Which type of litter cats tend to like the most
  • What to do when nothing else is working

Whether you’ve just adopted a new cat or need to troubleshoot existing problems, this class will help you to create a litter box situation that both you and your cat will love. 

This class is appropriate for anyone. New cat guardians and those who’ve had cats for years will get helpful tips and ideas that they might not be familiar with.

Meet Your Teacher

Dr. Rachel Geller, Ed.D. Certified Cat Behavior and Retention Specialist
Dr. Rachel Geller, Ed.D is a certified Cat Behavior and Retention Specialist through the Humane Society of the United States, a certified Humane Education Specialist through the Academy of Prosocial Learning, and a certified Pet Chaplain® through the Association of Veterinary Pastoral Education. As a behaviorist, author, and educator, Rachel provides cat behavior education to cat guardians, shelters, and other organizations. Her book, “Saving the World, One Cat at a Time” was written to help resolve the behavioral and emotional problems that challenge guardians’ relationships with their cats. In all of these roles, Rachel is dedicated to helping people better understand their cats with the goal of establishing more harmonious relationships and homes.

20 thoughts on “Is Your Cat Thinking Outside of the Litter Box? Help Your Cat Love the Litter Box

  1. Nancy

    I live in a one room studio apartment. Everyone says you have to have two litter boxes for one cat. The bathroom area is closed in and too high traffic to put a box in there. Where am I supposed to put another box? Any place I put it will be a few feet away from the first one.

    Reply
    1. Mallory Crusta

      Hi Nancy! Thanks for the comment. You can only do your best with your living situation, and if you’re truly unable to find an additional spot for the second litter box, it should be okay to put it closer to the original one.

      Reply
  2. KARLA

    Good info but there is no option to fwd or rewind so I can listen to certain points again or that I missed.

    Reply
    1. Mallory Crusta

      Hi Karla, thanks for pointing this out. I checked it out, and you’re right—the player functionality needs to be improved. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for you right now, but I’m bringing this to our dev team, and we’ll get started working on a fix. I’m sorry about the frustration and want you to know that we all very much appreciate having you here at Cat Guardian Academy.

      Reply
    2. Mallory Crusta

      Hi Karla, I wanted to send an update and let you know that we’ve corrected the problem you described, so you can now navigate back and forth through the course contents. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

      Reply
  3. Soheil Rostami

    Hi

    Dr. Rachel Geller
    my name is Soheil and I really love animal especially dogs and cats. But I living in Iran IM always care cats I can remember 2 cats name CJ and Talla . Talla is a kind of persian cat …Ive sent it to my friend in France he is originally from France cause we lives in Iran we have some limitation for .one example is last weekend I I took my cat to the park you cant guess it the safety guard of park threated us to got our CJ .so IM volunteer to help you for cat calm in whole of world
    ..

    Reply
  4. Shirley Honey

    NEW TO ME! Just found an article on Whisker Fatigue. Cats should always have a shallow dish for foods, so their whiskers will not get involved in their food. Makes sense, they do not care to be mussed up. I also gently sponge bath my furry pal when she needs a face wash, paws, etc. Wet Warm cloth only. Then dry her a bit so that she doesn’t groom herself immediately and end up with hair balls .She loves her brushing especially on the neck and around the ears.

    Reply
  5. Ron

    Hi Dr. Geller!

    Thank you so much for this video! Great information!!

    I have a question I’m hoping you or someone can help me with. One of our adopted kitties is what other people have described as a “vertical pee-er”. He always uses the litter box, but when he starts to pee, he occasionally raises his rear end as he’s going and ends up peeing all the way up the inside wall of the box. I had to buy large storage bins with high sides to keep urine from going over the top of the box. The storage bins I bought are clear plastic (so he can see what’s going on around him), and I cut out part of one of the sides as an entrance. The 12.5″ high sides work well, but I’m wondering of you have any suggestions for getting him to squat consistently. I don’t think it’s a spraying issue because he doesn’t do it all the time. And as I said, he ALWAYS uses one of the litter boxes, so it’s not an aversion issue.

    He’s an adult cat, who was homeless. He started hanging out in our yard and sleeping on our front porch. After sleeping on our welcome mat for over four months, and after seeing him get into scraps with raccoons, we decided it was time for him to move in with us. He’s now an indoor-only kitty, who has no interest in going back outside.

    Any ideas??

    Ron

    Reply
    1. Mallory Crusta

      Hi Ron! I reached out to Dr. Geller and got the following answer for you: Hi Ron,

      Unfortunately, it is very difficult to teach a cat to squat consistently. When he does squat and pee, once finished you could try clicker training – click and treat – but the danger is you may interrupt his routine. Your best bet is to continue with a high sided box. NVR Miss is a good one http://www.nvrmiss.com/index.php and perhaps put a litter mat underneath the box for extra insurance. Drymate makes a good one: https://www.amazon.com/Drymate-Non-Slip-Protects-Material-Rejuvenation/dp/B073ZMPV1C/ref=as_li_ss_tl?keywords=drymate+litter+mat&qid=1563193368&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-8&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=healhand-20&linkId=8473a53ad78aa540767d597bae288c71&language=en_US

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
      1. Ron

        Hi Mallory,

        Thank you very much for the response and for the suggestions!! Please pass along my gratitude to Dr. Geller!!

        Ron

        Reply
  6. Nancy

    Hi Dr Geller:

    I rescue & rehab cats & kittens. I took in a little runt because Mom wasn’t feeding her. I had a very hard time litter training her. She also stands up while peeing & goes right over the box. At least she pees in the box! My problem is pooping. While she pees in the box she poops outside the box, usually on the LR rug or on the basement floor. I have a total of 5 cats & 8 litter boxes throughout the house, 4 upstairs & 4 downstairs. How can I get her to poop in the box?? Maybe crate her for awhile? She’s almost 2 years old now.

    Reply
    1. Mallory Crusta

      Passing this along from Dr. Geller:

      Your cat is mostly choosing a wide open place to poop, the rug or the floor. This provides safety and clear sightlines all around her. This is a clue that wherever her box currently is, she feels unsafe and vulnerable in the box. Let’s take a good look at your litter box set up to get started. Let’s try placing another box or 2 in a different area, room or level of your home. If there is a particular part of the house that she likes to hang out, that could be a good spot to place a box(es). If you add a couple in some other areas and she uses them, you may solve your problem. Then, you can remove the ones she didn’t use. Also, there are some cats who refuse to poop and pee in the same box. Maybe for the sake of our detective work, is there a location where you can place an additional box or 2 somewhere else?

      Let’s also talk about location strategies as part of our detective work. Cats feel very, very vulnerable in their litter boxes. They are more aware of all the potential cats who could be on their territory, and this includes companion cats. Your cat may have a need to see her opponents (which also could be a companion cat), so she is seeking a place to “go” where she can easily watch for that opponent, and should one appear, she has an escape route. For many cats, having the litter box in a location where there are clear sight lines is very important. So, do a real estate reality check and see if your boxes are in a location where she may feel vulnerable. Also, if your boxes have very high sides, your cat may feel too closed in for the pooping, which is a lower position than your cat in question who pees standing up. She may need a lower sided box for pooping. Is your box right up against a wall, or in a corner, is there a piece of furniture blocking her view?

      Make sure the litter boxes are uncovered. Most cats dislike covered boxes because they completely reduce the visual field. You also want to make sure the litter box is not under something (like the sink or a desk) and not tucked tightly into a corner. It may be just a matter of sliding the box out from a corner to give her more visual warning time. If the box is in a room on the same wall as the entrance, move it to the opposite side so she can see across the room and into the hallway leading to the entrance. If the box is under something, try pulling it out a couple of feet. For some cats, just sliding the box 12 inches away from the wall might increase the security level enough. Many cats prefer a room that has more than one entrance so if the enemy (real or imagined) comes in one way, he can escape the other way.

      Think escape and visual warning time.

      You can try crate training for the pooping, but let’s try this first.

      Reply
  7. Kathy

    Thoroughly enjoyed the video and learned many new things. Thank you!! I have one cat who started life as a feral kitten and now lives inside. He has turned out to be a delight and so loving but is strong-wiled with a mind of his own. I find this enjoyable and makes for an interesting companion. He does know I’m boss. 🙂 He is a huge cat. One challenge is that he flings much litter outside of the boxes while he vigorously cover everything well…scratching and covering way more than is necessary. His boxes are large..the kind mentioned in the video that go under beds to store items.. I scoop out pee and poop every day, often several times a day. My question is how often should the litter be changed out completely in a littler box? Maybe I’m not doing that often enough and that’s why he is flinging litter around and scratching so vigorously? However he does this even when the litter is new. I change out the litter entirely about every 3-4 weeks but, again, faithfully remove any poop and clumps of pee several times a day. The litter doesn’t seem to need changing until about 3 weeks have gone by. I use World’s Best Picky Unscented Cat Litter. I was hoping the video would address this particular cleaning issue of how often to change out the litter completely but it didn’t. Thank you for an answer. Kathy

    Reply
      1. Kathy

        Thanks, Mallory. I appreciate it and look forward to an answer. I spend a lot of time cleaning up after Mr. Sweetie and welcome anything that will shorten the time.

        Reply
        1. Mallory Crusta

          From Dr. Geller:

          I recommend replacing the used litter with new litter and washing the box once a week. When the week-old litter is dumped, clean the litter box and replenish with new, fresh litter. You can use dish soap and warm water or vinegar and water to clean the box. Don’t use traditional bleach since it can interact with the ammonia in cat urine. Regular washing will prevent the plastic material of your litter box from absorbing the odor, too.

          For cats who fling litter, there are all sorts of mats available to go under the litter box. Here is one example, but there are many.

          Take care, Rachel

          Reply

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