5 Signs Your Cat May Revolt Against the Litter Box

I relish thinking outside the box and love other people who do, too. But when my cat thinks outside his box – the litter box that is – I am less than pleased. I am obviously not the only cat-owning human who feels this way about cats missing their target, as urination and defecation outside the litter box is one of the top reasons owners surrender their cats to shelters.

Sadly, most of the time cats avoid the litter box, they are not trying to be spiteful, but rather they are trying to communicate something that they cannot say in words. Usually, the problem is either an issue of health, a specific aspect of their box or a stressful relationship with another household member (cat, human, dog or other pet). The International Society for Feline Medicine says quite succinctly in their guide to cat ownership that house soiling means the cat’s physical, social or medical needs are not being met.

Whatever the reason, once the inappropriate soiling has begun it is often quite difficult to stop, so what are the signs that something is amiss with your kitty and she is thinking about staging a litter box revolt? According to Cornell University’s Feline Health Center these are the top warning signs:

  • Kitty sniffs or looks at litter box but does not enter or only partially enters the box
  • Kitty paws the litter but does not actually use it
  • Kitty refrains from digging in the litter
  • Kitty shakes litter off paws while still in the box
  • Kitty refuses to cover waste or scratches aimlessly at the side of the box

So, if your kitty begins to exhibit one of these behaviors, pay attention and be grateful that she is giving you a warning before staging a full revolt and depositing a bladder full of stinky cat urine on your new sofa. Indeed, take the time to  consider what might be bothering your feline and do what you can to address the problem immediately. If you are vexed, consult your veterinarian or visit The American Association for Feline Practitioners’ website which offers a detailed downloadable guide for diagnosing and solving house-soiling problems in cats.

P.S. If your cat has already “thought” outside it’s box and the smell is overwhelming even after multiple attempts to clean-up the soiled area, try white vinegar. I have found this common household item to be an inexpensive and very effective tool for neutralizing offending odors, including cat urine. 

kitty love


6 Myths About Cat Litter
How to Help a Cat Who Avoids the Litter Box


Jessica K
Jessica K2 years ago

White vinegar sounds like a great idea. Thanks.

Sarah Crockett
Sarah Crockett4 years ago

Thanks for sharing. My cat hasn't behaved like this yet, thank heaven.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Chrissy Pownall
Chrissy Pownall4 years ago


Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney4 years ago

Great article thank you for sharing,

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney4 years ago

Thank you for sharing, my pussy agrees too. Happy Iris Day everyone.

Kamia C.
Kamia T4 years ago

I have never had indoor cats due to allergies, but will keep this in mind for friends who have problems. As a property manager who had tenants who left stinky apartments, Nok Out does a better job than white vinegar of getting smells out, and doesn't bleach out the carpeting.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

Thanks, where were you when 1 of my cats started not using the box? We put her in a room to her self for about 6 months, now she does fine.

Ana M.
Ana M.4 years ago

A few years ago, I replaced the traditional kitty litter box with a deep plastic storage container, I had grown quite tired of constantly cleaning litter the cat kicked onto the floor around the old box. I line the container with a large plastic garbage bag, put in the litter and, once a week, I can easily take the bag, filled with the dirty litter, out of the box and put it directly into the trash. My cat loves the box (the litter is cleaned daily and changed weekly which pleases my cat) and I find it easier to clean. It's a win win for all.

Cherise U.
Cherise U.4 years ago

I am all about cats doing their business outdoors! Very few to no letterbox problems with indoor/outdoor cats.