Q&A: When cats 'think' outside the box
Q: I recently adopted a stray cat. For the most part, she is adjusting well to life in our home, but she has one problem that's driving me crazy. She urinates inside the litter box, but she defecates on the newspapers I've placed beneath it. I've tried adding two more boxes, but she's not getting the message. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Cats can definitely be quirky when it comes to using the litter box. You are doing all the right things, but let's see if we can dig a little deeper for a solution.
What type of litter are you using? You might try offering different types of litter in the other boxes. Your cat might be fine with peeing on clay litter, but prefer to defecate in a box filled with sandy clumping litter. You might also try presenting her with one of the litters made from recycled paper. For whatever reason, she may simply like its texture and smell. It's made to produce little dust and it's nontoxic. Be sure you don't fill the box with too much of it. Keep the level at 2 to 3 inches, or it may be difficult to find your cat's deposits. You can even try lining the litter box with sheets of newspaper, lifting them out and tossing them as they're used.
Finally, try scooping the box as soon as you know it has been used. Your cat may not like defecating in the box if it already has urine in it. If that's not possible, consider investing in a box that automatically scoops the litter after every use. You both might be happier.