Question: My 9 yr old cat recently began housesoiling in my bedroom. He’s been checked and cleared medically. My veterinarian has been working with me and so far we’ve changed the litter, the box, and added pheromones. And still my cat uses my bed or a corner in the room. I don’t know what else to do?

Answer: Housesoiling can be frustrating and complicated. Changing the litter and box are a great place to start and pheromones help reduce stress in the household. Examples of stress can be schedule changes, visitors, rearranged furniture, or even new “outdoor” threats—neighborhood cats and construction next door are a few. But something we often do not look at is litter box placement, along with access and egress. How easy is it for your cat to get to his litter box and leave it? Is it an obstacle course or an inviting haven? Think about the questions below before you answer . . .

Where is the box?

Let’s face it, litter box décor leaves a lot to be desired, so we often hide the placement. Closets are dark and often get closed, so your cat becomes creative. Basements are the most popular location, especially in townhouses. Would you like to get up in the middle of the night and go down three flights of stairs? Consider an aging cat, whose agility isn’t what it used to be. What about other animals or human traffic that’s blocking safe access? If you were taunted every time you wanted to relieve yourself, you’d find other options too. Cats need line-of-sight access, meaning clear passages, with out obstacles and stalkers.

And what about the box?

Is it clean enough you would walk barefoot in it? Is it a soft texture like sand, free from perfume scents? Scents are offense to cats and they cover our laziness! Can your cat enter the box comfortably and not be attacked on exit? (Note: While some cats like covered boxes, more often they create problems in multi-cat households. Plus, what you don’t see you overlook.) And as a mentor of mine often says, litter isn’t immortal . . .even clumping litter. Change the litter regularly and wash the box with hot, soapy water when changing.

Make sure all of these questions are answered to your cat’s liking, and you should see improvement. If not, then consider a holistic veterinarian for a whole body check up. Often a practitioner trained in complementary therapies, such as Chinese Medicine and acupuncture or homeopathy can use changes in behavior as signs and symptoms for underlying health issues and treat accordingly.

Previously published in PetSage blog, 11/23/2013.
© Terri Grow, 2020
Terri Grow writes and speaks on pet health and welfare, working with veterinarians, trainers, shelters and manufacturers to empower canine and feline health through diets, herbal therapies, supplements and environmental adjustments.