Picture this: you have ONE toilet... possibly shared with a few others in your home... It gets flushed about once a week, and it's in the basement, in the dark, next to a big scary loud machine - sound good to you?? Would you feel comfortable going with that setup?
Now picture this: you DON'T indeed feel comfortable with that setup - but nature calls!! What do you do??
Kitties going outside the litterbox is one of the TOP reasons for kitties being rehomed, euthanized, relinquished to shelters, or simply kicked out to fend on their own outside... when all they're doing is telling you SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE in the only way kitties know how.
1 - ALWAYS always bring your kitty to the vet for a checkup if they are having litter box issues! You have to rule out medical issues (urinary infection, pain associated with the litter box/litter (you'll see this a LOT in declawed cats!!!), or other medical issues causing them to avoid the box) before you can consider behavioral issues. Kitties are VERY good at hiding when they don't feel well - the #1 signs are inappropriate litter box use and unusual eating/drinking habits.
2 - Examine your litterbox setup - imagine that was YOUR potty area... how would you feel about going there? Is it private and quiet? Is it easy to get in/out of? Are there enough for everyone? Is it clean? If you aren't sure what your kitty is trying to tell you - they may not like the location, type or smell of their litterbox - try something new! Add another box with another type of litter in a different location and see if they prefer that one!
Avoid things like scented litter (yuck - cat's don't need their potty area to smell like lavender, as much as humans may like it - that is something that is 1000% marketed to humans and completely unnecessary and potentially harmful for kitties), covered/too small boxes, noisy/busy locations and tall sided boxes (especially for our senior or declawed friends! DON'T get me started on 'potty training' your cat to use a toilet - this is a HUGE NO NO!
3 - do some research on kitty potty behavior - scent and marking are SO important to cats! Ever wonder why they like to scratch things? It's NOT because they like to ruin furniture. Why they bury their potty? Why they get the after potty zoomies sometimes? The best and most important thing we can do for our pets is to try and understand why they do what they do. Everything is an instinct - they don't pee on your clothes because they're a jerk... they're trying to TELL you something! Listen!!
Soon we will be offering cat coaching services (www.kzoocatcafe.com/cat-coaching.html) for kitties with litterbox issues, other behavioral issues like counter surfing, scratching, aggression, introducing new pets, and for pet parents who just want their kitties to live their very best life! If this is something you might be interested in, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org MEOW!