Sunday 14 November 2021

Try using an indoor pen to retrain your cat to use the litter tray (last resort?)

I believe it is quite rare for a domestic cat to stop using the litter tray and when they do they'll be good reasons. Cats instinctively use a litter tray within the home because it is the only suitable material onto which and in which they can defecate and urinate. They migrate to it naturally. But if a cat stops using it and they soil the home they are not doing it out of nastiness or because they want to annoy you for some reason. Some people believe that 😏 .

They'll be logical, sensible and natural reasons for it such as bladder inflammation (cystitis) a common health problem, or diarrhoea so they can't make the litter tray in time.

The most common cat behavior problem is depositing urine and/or poop outside of the litter box for one reason or another. Picture: Pixabay.
The most common cat behaviour problem is depositing urine and/or poop outside of the litter box for one reason or another. Picture: Pixabay.

If cats are indoor/outdoor cats and they normally go to the toilet outside there may be a reason why they stop using the outside area. There may be no litter tray inside which causes a conundrum for them resulting in inappropriate elimination inside as a possible consequence.

For instance, if it is cold and wet outside and there is no litter tray inside some cats might struggle under those circumstances. My cat just goes out in the rain and it doesn't bother him but it depends upon the individual cat.

There many other reasons why a cat stops using the litter tray such as it is the wrong size, it doesn't smell or feel right, it is next to the food bowls, it is not clean or it has been super-cleaned (which removes the natural scent of the cat) or the cat is old and infirm and doesn't care any more or has difficulty using it.

RELATED: Cat litter trays should face north or south.

It may be suitable in some instances albeit in my opinion quite rare instances for a cat to be retrained and you can do this by using a retraining pen. The idea is that you create a restricted area for the cat which is about 30 inches wide, 30 inches deep and about 26 inches high. You can buy foldup ones online, apparently.

Inside the pen you place bedding and a litter tray. The theory is that domestic cats hate soiling their bedding and will do anything to avoid it. The only alternative is to use the litter tray which is close by. You should eliminate medical reasons for inappropriate elimination first before trying this. You place the pen in a quiet location where this privacy. There should be access to seeing normal household activity.

If your cat has defecated and urinated in the home inappropriately those areas should be thoroughly cleaned using an enzyme cleaner beforehand. Otherwise, cats tend to go back to those areas because they regard them as toilets. You should also ensure that your cat finds the substrate acceptable and the size of the tray should be appropriate. I discussed litter tray size in another article which you can read by clicking on this link.

RELATED: Litter Box Intimidation. Help Please.

The problem I have with this system is deciding when to put your cat inside the pen! But on the basis that you can decide, you put your cat inside the pen and wait for him/her to be forced to use the litter tray. When they do so you praise them.

It seems that you leave your cat inside the pen except for play and meals. That seems rather harsh to me (and impractical?) but perhaps the retraining pen is a last resort. You have to use it for 1 to 2 weeks to overcome any problems of your cat urinating where you don't want him/her to urinate.

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