A lifelong cat owner, Stacy N. Hackett writes frequently about cats, cat breeds and
a range of pet-related topics. A big source of inspiration for her writing comes from
her two cats: Jack, a 7-year-old red tabby domestic shorthair, and Phillip, a 3-year-
old gray and white domestic shorthair. Her work has appeared in CAT FANCY,
Kittens 101, Cats USA, Critters USA, Rabbits, and Pet Product News magazines, as
well as on several websites, including PetSafe.net, Petcha.com and CatChannel.com.
An award-winning member of the Cat Writers’ Association, Stacy also has worked in several technical fields, including telecommunications and expendable launch systems.
Litter box problems can
strike at any age.
Adolescents and adults
By the time a cat is an adolescent
or an adult, he pretty much has his
litter box habits down pat. When
he deviates from those habits, it
could be related to one of these
➜ The litter box is dirty.
➜ There’s been a big change in
your household — such as a child
moving away to college or the
addition of a cat.
➜ The litter box is in a new
Krieger recommended against
moving a litter box, even if the
box is in a less-than-ideal location.
“Don’t move litter boxes from
place to place,” she said. “Leave
them, and add more boxes elsewhere. Cats become accustomed
to the locations of their boxes.”
Don’t worry if your cat
occasionally misses the box
because of aim issues (misjudging
where the edge of the box really
is — Jack does this about once a
month). Try a covered litter box or
a larger box to address this issue.
Be concerned if your cat
suddenly starts urinating outside
the box, goes to the box multiple
times per day with little results, or
deposits blood in the litter box.
As I learned with Jack, these can
indicate that your cat has a urinary
tract infection, and he needs to
visit the vet right away.
As your cat enters his senior years,
his litter box habits may change
because of physical limitations.
“Some elderly cats may find it a bit
more challenging to make it to the
litter box,” Krieger said. “Arthritis
and other medical issues may make
it painful for them to walk far.
Also, some elderly cats have incon-
Help your senior cat be successful
in his litter box chores by placing
large, uncovered boxes through-
out your home, especially in those
rooms where your cat spends most
of his time. If your home has two
levels, make sure there’s a box both
upstairs and downstairs. “For those
older kitties who can’t jump, make
sure the litter boxes are shallow,”
Krieger also recommended
placing night-lights throughout
the house to literally light the
way to the litter box. “[This]
will help elderly cats navigate around at night, especially those who may have
dementia,” she said.
Don’t worry: If you
keep your senior cat’s litter
box in the same location and
continue to use the same
litter, chances are he will
continue to use
Keep in mind, though, that as your
cat ages, he becomes more set in
his ways and will likely go on a
“box strike” if you suddenly change
the litter you use in the box.
Be concerned: Sudden
changes in your cat’s litter habits
or unusual bouts of incontinence
may indicate an underlying medi-
cal problem in your senior
cat. Take her to the vet
as soon as possible to
rule out any health