Skip to content


    Exciting News for WebMD Members!

    We've been busy behind the scenes building new message boards for you. You'll have new and easier ways to find messages, connect with others, and share your stories.

    And, this will all be available on your smartphone or other mobile device!

    What Do You Need to Do?

    The message board you're used to will be closing in the coming weeks. While many of your boards will be making the move to our new home, your posts will not. Want to keep a discussion going? Save posts you want to continue (this includes your member profile story), so that you can re-post them in the new message boards.

    Keep an eye here and on your email inbox, we'll be back in touch soon to give you all the information you need!

    Yours in health,
    WebMD Message Boards Management

    Is refusing to use the litter box a sign of sickness?
    Will Draper, DVM posted:
    If your cat is refusing to use the litter box, it can be a sign of different things. It can be your feline friend's way of telling you that they don't care for the brand of litter you are using. If you've added another cat to the household, sometimes the present housemates choose not to use the same litter box as their new "friend", and will let you know by "going" elsewhere.

    Many times refusing to use the litter box is your cat's way of letting you know that they don't feel well. A common condition that will cause this behavior is a urinary tract infection. Cats will urinate in strange places, and in small amounts, more frequently than usual. Another reason can be stomach upset. Sometimes older cats will experience senility, and they "forget" to use the litter box. Also, with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease, felines will eliminate somewhere other than the litter box, which can be an indication that they "can't make it" to the box because of a full bladder or lethargy.

    Have you experienced this issue with your cat? If so, what were the possible reasons, and what steps were taken to help?
    Dr. Will
    Annie_WebMD_Staff responded:
    When I used to have 2 cats, my older cat's kidney disease affected her ability to use the litter pan. I think she had a hard time climbing into the litter pan so she would pee on the floor in front of the opening (it's a pan with a removable hood). As well she didn't like the hood opening facing the wall, she preferred the opening to be unobstructed.

    Every time she had litter pan problems that meant a trip to the vet to see if she had a UTI. Toward the end of her life I think she probably didn't feel good as the kidney disease probably affected her joints. Bless her though she lived until she was almost 21 years old. She was my very first cat, a beautiful chocolate point Siamese.

    - Annie
    whitecrow responded:
    I have a female cat that I got from a friend in my building. She peed on his bed. Once in my home she quit for a long time from doing so. Then from no where she began to pee on the sofa and the bed. I had to change the litter over and over until she was satisfied. She quit for a long time.
    I got a new cat. A male kitten and she started in on me again to pee elsewhere. I know that it is not the litter right now of why she won't go in the box all the time.
    I got rid of my pee sofa, got new litter box and that did not fix my problem, what to do? Get rid of the male or will she quit once the male has been neutered.
    wormhole responded:
    My cats will empty their bowel right next to their litter pan even when the pan is not full.
    Stilts35 responded:
    I have four female cats in my household, but I also have 9 litter pans scattered about my home. I do not have a problem with my cats not using the litter pans as they are placed in places where THEY like to pee. Yes it is a slight pain to clean them every day but it is worth it. I've always heard the rule of thumb is one litter pan per cat in the household, so with 4 aging cats (22, 21, 20, & 8) I figured they would have issues getting to the litter pans easily so that's why I have 9 in convenient places for THEM. So, that is how I have dealt with this issue.
    Will Draper, DVM replied to Stilts35's response:
    That is serious commitment, Stilts! Excellent. Thanks for sharing.
    Dr. Will
    232bonnie replied to wormhole's response:
    my mothers cat just started doing this about 2 mo ago. i brought her to my house yesterday & she pooped on my bed! even though a litter pan was right next to the bed. have you recieved any helpful information that might help me?
    ratbusmom responded:
    i have a 12 year old cat. she stopped using he old box about 2seeks after we rescued a dog. i got her a new box. i had also bought her cheap food that she did not like and then mixed it with a food she likes it kept up until i got her a new box and food she would eat. now she will not leave the room that the box is in. i shouldn't say will not totally come put she will come out to get a drink. if i go and get her and put her on the back of a chair she will stay there for awhile. and i have a 7 year old that wants to hold her all the time.
    hoit1 responded:
    I am almost done with my husband. It will be either the cat or me. I feel like I live in one big litter box. We have never had this problem before but it has been going on for several weeks now. First there is litter ever where. The cat drags it into the living room, on beds, couches, kitchen it is really gross. Then the cat often pees on any thing left on floor, clothes, pillows, blankets, and ect. When he does use the litter box he faces the wrong way so he misses the box. Really, I feel like I am in one big litter box, and I am ready to move out!
    triciamiller responded:
    I am recently seperated and moved my cats from a 5,000 square home to a 500 square foot apartment. The first few weeks were fine. My 11 year old female cat is now defacating and urinating in my bed. The litter box is clean and I have not changed the type of littler. Do you think this is behaviorial or could she have something else going on?
    missythepug replied to triciamiller's response:
    My cat has hyperthroydism and lately has been missing the litter pan or not hiding her urine and bowel movements. I am giving her medicine(methmazole). She is twelve, so I don't know if it is her sickness or her age. Can you help me understand what is happening?
    fluffcat replied to triciamiller's response:
    Fluffy, our cat has stopped using the litter box after a friend of ours came to visit. This friend of our has a dog. The dog did not come over.
    Annie_WebMD_Staff replied to missythepug's response:
    Hi missythepug,

    You may want to make a visit to the vet again since your cat is not using the litter pan or is not covering the mess. Since your cat is a senior maybe you should have her checked out for UTIs and kidney disease.

    - Annie
    terrys18 responded:
    I had 3 male neutered cats. I rescued a female cat 1 1/2 years ago. I just found out 1 of my male cats is diabetic. He urinates in the box all the time, but also other places. The box is cleaned at least 3 times a day. Usin the World's Best Litter. I used to use crystals. I keep him in a room while at work. He pooped on the carpet several times too. I don't think it is UTI, and there are 3 boxes in the room with him. Help! He has gotton a couch and recliner and I am afraid he will go back to the same areas. They were cleaned, but he still kind of sniffs. I don't want him to have to be confined every day. Any ideas?
    catyoung responded:
    My cat just started pooping outside the litter box and she has also been throwing up on and off for months. I did take her to my vet and the vet told me she has kidney disease and has lumps in her intestinal tract. The vet thinks this is from cancer. My cat is 20 years old without having to spend a small fortune on her plus my vet telling me there is nothing much that can be done for her WHAT should I do for her?

    Helpful Tips

    Excellent website for information on parasites in dogs and catsExpert
    I just conducted a seminar and hands-on demonstration on diagnosis of fecal parasites to veterinarians and technicians. An excellent ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    33 of 48 found this helpful

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    Learn more about the AVMA

    WebMD Special Sections