Some cat parents have the unfortunate difference of struggling with a kitten who suddenly – seemingly out of nowhere – an aversion to their litter box.
This can take the form of peeing outside the box, preferring soft towels or carpets, or even pooping right outside or on the edge of the litter box.
Litter box aversion can drive cat parents crazy. If you are dealing with this behavior, you may have tried everything to resolve it.
You may have had a urinary tract infection checked by the vet and given the all clear. You may have tried all kinds of trash in the hopes that your cat has just decided that the feeling of a certain sound under its paws is uncomfortable. Or you’ve tried moving the box to a different location in case something startles you.
All of these things are good to try when dealing with litter box problems. But maybe nothing seems to be working for you and your cat.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your cat still feels uncomfortable with its litter box. In these situations, you may face a surprising cause of litter box aversion – hip dysplasia.
What is hip dysplasia and what are the symptoms?
Hip dysplasia occurs when a cat’s hip joints don’t grow normally. This can lead to degeneration, small fractures, cartilage damage, and other problems.
It is more common in female than male cats, and certain breeds are more likely to be predisposed, such as Persian cats and Maine Coons. In fact, up to 18 percent of Maine Coons can have hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia occurs in different degrees of severity and therefore in different pain levels.
Symptoms can be:
- Decreased activity
- Lameness in a hind limb or limping
- Stand with your hind legs extra close together
- Pain in the hips
- Excessive licking or chewing in the hip area
- Larger shoulder muscles prevent strain on the hind legs
- A “bunny hop” when your cat is walking or running
Connection to the throwing version
Sometimes the aversion to litter can be a symptom of undiagnosed hip dysplasia in cats.
This happens because your cat feels pain in their joints when trying to get into the litter box and they are learning to avoid it altogether.
If your cat pees or poops very near the litter box, this could be a sign that it wants it to use the box, but they just can’t.
Diagnosis, Treatment and What You Can Do.
If you suspect that your cat is showing signs of aversion to litter boxes, Take your cat to a veterinarian. A blood test can show if there is any inflammation in the joints. X-rays can show signs of degeneration.
Treatment can range from physical therapy to surgery. In less severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in your hips.
If your vet prescribes medication or a new diet, you may want to see if you can fill out the prescription online at Chewys pharmacy and have the items delivered.
If your cat is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, or if you suspect your cat has dysplasia or any other painful joint problem, there are simple steps you can take to resolve the litter aversion problem.
Because your cat may be in pain trying to get into the skin Litter boxBuying larger boxes with lower sides can make a big difference.
To avoid your cat having to step up to get into the litter box, consider cutting a hole in one side of the litter box so that it can easily go into the litter box and doesn’t have to step up at all.
You may find that doing this alone or in combination with veterinarian pain relievers is enough to completely eliminate the aversion to litter.
Has your cat ever stopped using the litter box? What did you do to help them? Let us know in the comments below!
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