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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 18169
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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We took our cat from a rescue center approx 5 years ago. Behaviorally

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We took our cat from a rescue center approx 5 years ago. Behaviorally She is generally good. She has no odd habits but the reason I'm writing is because she will not go to the toilet outdoors and I'm trying to find out why shes acting this way and how we can (hopefully) correct the problem.

After we originally brought her home the shelter advised keeping her indoors for a month and so we put a litter box down. We then just left it there for night time use as there is no way to let her out at night.

She used to go outside to the toilet but over time shes seems to have totally stopped.
We can tell when when she needs the toilet because she will often "hang around" the area where the litter box is (its near our front door).
We open the door and let her out and she will come in later and go straight to the box and use it!
No matter how long we leave her out - 5 minutes or 2 hours, she will still come in and use the litter box. She also urinates in the litter box.

Even in summer when we have the back door open all day she will still use the tray.
we have a nice, well maintained garden and we do see several other cats around, these never seem to have bothered her, on some occasions we've seen her laying down with another cat.
Why is she doing this and what can we do to stop her behavior?
Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I understand that you would like Tasha to eliminate outdoors and are puzzled as to why she isn't doing so.

Cats have a very high level of preference for particular areas and surfaces to eliminate on, and once they are trained to a particular area they often won't deviate from it. In some ways that is nice, because it deters them from going in inappropriate areas, but it will make training her to go outdoors more difficult. Cats are also conscious of social standings and timid cats are unlikely to mark or eliminate on areas where more aggressive or "boss" kitties have eliminated. If your girl is timid and one to try to get along with others she is less likely to eliminate where other, neighboring, outdoor cats have gone.

So how can we help her learn to eliminate outdoors?
First find an area for her to eliminate that is somewhat close to your home and protected so she can feel comfortable and safe eliminating there.
I would start by putting the litter box that she uses indoors, outdoors in that spot. You will need to get a second box for indoors while she is learning though as you don't want her to have an accident if her box is missing. Make sure it has some urine and maybe a piece of stool in her outdoor box as well so she knows what it is for.
Once she is starting to eliminate outdoors in the box consistently you may be able to remove the box, leaving some litter there so that she has the surface that she prefers for a while. Over time you may be able to put less and less litter and still have her eliminate in your chosen outdoor spot.

This will be a long process. She may backslide here and there, but hopefully with patience and by giving her a safe area with the surface she prefers you can retrain her.

Best of luck with your girl, please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi, thank you for the information. I do have a couple of questions.


1.The cat litter in the box "clumps together" when she uses it. Would it be worthwhile putting some of those clumps in a spread-out area of the garden where we put the tray to deter other cats and help her identify her area?

2. We live in the UK and its incredibly rainy here, the litter in the tray will turn into 1 solid lump after a rain shower so Tasha wont be able to use it. I wonder therefore is it better to just mark out an area of the garden and mix the content of her litter box with garden dirt?

or wouldn't that be as effective? I cant see another way around putting the tray outdoors.


thank you

Thanks for the further information.
I see the problem with the type of litter you have.
I would put sand that has a similar consistency, and some of the clumps of used litter where you would like her to go. It might help to mix a little of the sand that you will be using outdoors in her indoor box as well so she gets the idea and becomes familiar with it.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
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