Cat sleeping in litter box

by Yarrow

Hi, I wrote to you a few weeks ago about my 15 year old outdoor cat peeing inside the house. I moved her in for the winter because it is just too cold for her outside... and I finally broke down and got a litter box. She showed absolutely no interest when there was just litter in it so I switched it up and added soil because that is probably more familiar to her for use as a toilet. Instead of using it as a bathroom, she curled up and went to sleep in it, purring loudly, and continues to pee on the rug. She already has other enclosed areas and boxes to sleep in, how do I teach her to use this one as a bathroom? Help!

Dear Yarrow,

I am glad to hear that you were able to add a litter box to your home for your cat to use instead of having to go outside, but sorry to hear that she is still urinating outside the box. I do have a few suggestions to try to help resolve this issue.

First and foremost, has she been examined by a veterinarian yet? There is still a possibility that she has a medical problem that is actually causing her behavior.

If she has been examined and medical causes for urinating on the rug have been ruled out, you may want to try adding another box right next to the current box. At the Cat Hospital, we have seen cats sleep in their litter boxes on many occasions, and if we place another directly next to it with a blanket or towel inside instead of litter, they will usually turn that box into their bed instead. Even though she has other boxes to sleep in throughout your home, she may like that particular location, shape, or size.

Additionally, you could try to collect some cat urine and put it in the box. You could try absorbing some urine with a paper towel and wringing it out over the box and soil. The scent of cat urine may encourage her to urinate there. Similarly, if there is one particular area on the rug that she is urinating on, it should be cleaned very thoroughly. She may be recognizing her scent there and repeating the behavior for that reason.

All the best,
Dr. Neely