Dear Ms. Kitty,
I’ve had my cat, Pretty Boy, a neutered Siamese mix, for almost 5 years now. Last month we brought home a new kitten, a neutered tabby mix, and Pretty Boy has all but stopped using his litter box.
Up until now he’s been perfectly behaved. What should I do? I don’t want to give up my boy, but I can’t have him teaching the new kitten bad habits.
Miffed in Manitou
Thanks for reaching out before doing anything you’d regret.
Pretty Boy is likely telling you the best way he knows how that he isn’t adjusting well to his new ‘litter’mate.
The absolute easiest solution is adding one, if not two, additional litter boxes to the mix. Think about how you would feel if a perfect stranger came in and started using your only toilet in the house, especially if you have moved Pretty Boy’s litter box to accommodate the new kitten.
Thoroughly clean and move Pretty Boy’s litter box back to its original location and add another one or two to a new location(s) like a bathroom, laundry room or large storage closet.
If you have more than one level in your home – it’s also best to have a litter box upstairs and one or two handy to get to downstairs. You may also want to try different types of litter in each box – depending mostly on what type of litter the kitten used prior to coming home. Nowadays there are alternate choices of litters – some made from tea leaves, wheat or newspaper, in addition to the standard clay/sand types. Many cats have a preference to what type of ‘surface’ they prefer in their litter box.
Secondly, make sure that the new kitten has his own food and water bowls, toys and bedding so that Pretty Boy doesn’t need to share his own. Is there an up high place (like a cat tree or wall shelf) that Pretty Boy can go to for time away from the new kitten?
Thirdly, I’d suggest buying a plug-in, diffuser device (similar to an air freshener) called Feliway. This is a natural, pheromone-based product that assists with eliminating stress-related, unwanted behavior. Check it out at www.feliway.com or at your nearest pet supply store.
Last, but not least, it would be a good idea to schedule Pretty Boy for a healthy cat check up – just in case the current litter box issue is a timing coincidence with an actual health issue. It’s common for cats to eliminate outside of their litter box when they have a medical problem like a urinary tract infection. Cats often associate this pain with the litter box and begin to avoid it. This is likely not the situation you are encountering – but would be a good thing to rule out.