Pets Alive
Home | About Us | Meet Our Critters! | Adopt | Ways to Help | Online Store | News and Resources | Pet Tales

Inappropriate elimination is an exhausting and all-too-common problem that results in the deaths of countless cats when people abandon or give up their pets because they can't cope with it.

Unfortunately, we are not able to take your cat here because our cat areas are currently full. Because we do not euthanize to create space, vacancies occur only when a resident passes away or gets adopted. So, we are limited in the number of animals we can take in.

It's difficult to find a new home for a cat that does not use the litter box consistently. Sometimes, friends or family are willing to help. There is some evidence that changing the cat's environment will sometimes correct the problem. Spraying for example may be associated with some unhappiness or stress in the cat's current home. However, you must be cautious when attempting to find a home for a cat with this behavior problem, because these cats are likely targets for abuse, neglect and abandonment. If you do find someone willing to take your cat, arrange to have the cat returned to you should the problem persist. That way, you can determine your cat's future in a humane manner.

Because it's so hard to find a home for a cat with this problem, you'll probably have to deal with it within your household.

The first order of business is to set up a thorough physical exam with your veterinarian. Several physical problems may result in a cat not using the litter box, so they must be ruled out before you can move on to working on the behavioral aspect of the problem. The good news is that the physical problems that cause lapses in litter box use can often be easily and inexpensively remedied. Medical tests should include a urinary analysis culture and sensitivity test, and a blood panel to test renal values (this test can be costly but is very helpful if you can afford it).

You may also find it helpful to read one or more of the following:
The fact sheet, “Inappropriate Elimination in Cats” on the Best Friends website at this link: and

Contact an animal behaviorist. Ask your veterinarian or a local animal organization to recommend a qualified cat behaviorist. Another option is to ask your vet to consult with Tufts University or one of the other university behavior clinics. For help in finding a behaviorist, visit the Animal Behavior Society website at :

Use a behavior help line. Here are some examples:
* ASPCA Companion Animal Services Behavior Help Line (New York), 212-876-7700, ext. 4357.
* San Francisco SPCA Mainline and Veterinary Hospital at 415-554-3030 which can connect a caller to behavior specialists or San Francisco Humane Education and Dog Training at 415-554-3000
* University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine Behavior Clinic, 215-898-3347. If the clinic is not open at the time of your call, their recorded message will give you their call-in hours for the week.
* Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine Behavior Clinic (Massachusetts), 508-839-7934. This clinic offers consultations for a fee.
* Feline Health Center, Cornell University, Dr. Louis J. Camuti Feline Consultation and Diagnostic Service, 1-800-KITTYDR, open 9 am to 4pm EST, Monday - Friday, except holidays. You will be charged a $35 fee on a major credit card.

Visit the Best Friends Members and Pets forum. The Pet Health and Behavior bulletin board on the Best Friends website may be able to help you. Dr. Margaret Muns is available thre to answer questions. Click on the following and scroll down to the Pet Health and Behavior link:

Read a book on cat behavior. You may find it helpful to read one of these books:
* "The Cat Who Cried for Help" by Nicholas Dodman
* "Think Like a Cat" by Pam Johnson-Bennett
* "If Only They Could Speak" by Nicholas Dodman

Contact an animal communicator. If you are open to this option, we strongly suggest Joanne Seere. 845-651-1383 or visit her website at:

If none of these options work, or if trying them is not feasible, you might consider changing your cat's current living situation so that the inconsistent litter-box use is not a problem. A possible solution is a cattery - an outdoor enclosure, roofed and protected, that you can place near a door or window, to allow the cat some inside access. Or, it can stand independently (similar to the idea of a dog run, but built for a cat). If you are interested, we have information on cat fencing and catteries that I would be happy to send along.

Thank you to Best Friends for allowing us to use these help sheets.