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Ask Your Pet

by Jennifer Dickman

Dear Jennifer,

My cat Ringo is repeatedly peeing and pooping outside the litter box. We’ve ruled out medical causes. Would you please ask him why he’s doing this and what we can do to help him to stop?

Thank you,


Dear Debbie,

I’m very glad that you’ve ruled out possible medical causes. Any time I receive an inquiry about a cat with a litter box issue, I always stress the importance of a vet visit to make sure there isn’t a medical problem.

According to Ringo, there are a few issues he has with going in the litter box. First, he feels like the litter box isn’t in a space that’s private enough. He says people have walked by and startled him on more than one occasion while he was using the litter. It makes him feel vulnerable when using the box. So, Ringo would like to ask you to please move the litter to a more private spot. (There are litter box screens at pet stores and sold online that might work if you can’t relocate the box.)

Ringo is also complaining that the litter box smells. He’s saying that you’re pretty good about cleaning it, but that there’s always some residual odor. He’s showing me an image that looks like a bit of dirty litter stuck to the bottom, which of course happens easily enough. As a former cat parent, I really think that at times you reach a point where the litter box itself just gets a little smelly, no matter how fastidious you’ve been about changing the litter. And, cats are of course more sensitive to smell than we are. I’d recommend getting a new box if possible.

Also, having litter boxes in more than one location can reduce accidents from being too far from the box, which Ringo is saying sometimes happens, and cut down on how much odor is concentrating in each box. I purchased a second box after my cat had an accident while we were living in a multi-story townhome, because she had an accident due to spending much of her time two floors above the location of the box. There were no more accidents after that.

Additionally, if you’re not already using an enzyme-based pet urine cleaner, such as Nature’s Miracle, I highly recommend purchasing one. Standard carpet cleaning products often fail to remove the scent of urine to the extent that the cat can no longer smell it, which is what you need to happen. Otherwise, the scent will often trigger the cat to go again in the same spot.

I hope this is helpful and that Ringo returns to using his box soon. If not, I would seek a second veterinary opinion, just to be safe.

Many Blessings,

Jennifer Dickman

Jennifer Dickman is an Animal Communicator, Reiki Master-Teacher specializing in Animal Reiki, and Intuitive Counselor. She conducts phone and email sessions worldwide. She may be contacted at Jennifer_Dickman@ymail.com , or through her website, www.JenniferDickman.com , where her MP3s “Journey to Contact Your Animals in Spirit” and “Deep Relaxation” are also for sale. To subscribe to Jennifer’s newsletter and receive a free copy of her essay, “Five Things Your Cat or Dog Wants You to Know” please email Jennifer with the word “Newsletter” in the subject line.

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