Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Well, it is a behavioural problem insofar as this behaviour is causing you problems. But the solution relies on understanding what is happening. It sounds as though your cat wants to go in that place / location, because she is going by the side of the box, so my immediate guess is that maybe it is the box which is a problem. HYPOTHESIS A: I wonder whether the smell of the cleaning stuff is putting her off? If it smells like an invader / chemical, she may well not want to mark directly on it. Sometimes, if you can bear to, leaving a little of the cats own faeces in there can be helpful, to help mark the territory as hers. HYPOTHESIS B: The other point that you raise, is that your cat may have arthritis, and may associate squatting in her box with pain, which would sopn put her off. In this case, perhaps your vet can offer treatment for feline arthritis. I am struggling to picture the litter boxes that you describe, but it sounds to me as though ease of getting into the tray might be important - perhaps a none slip surface, wide box, and litter that is not painful to put her feet on, may help? We would reccommend discussing this with your vet, who may also be able to assist you in finding places to put the litter trays. It is recommended that cats have a litter tray per cat plus a spare, but in this case I don't think that the spare counts, as the cat is unable to access the cellar. Is there another possible place? Cats are notoriously fussy abput toileting sites and it is brilliant that you are trying to address the problem for her.