Why Won't Your Cat Use Its Litter Tray After Boarding?

While you may have been looking forward to getting your cat home after a stay in a boarding cattery (like Penfield Kennels & Cattery), your cat's behaviour may make this less of a happy homecoming. Cats are often creatures of habit and may show changes in behaviour when they return home from a strange environment even though they didn't appear to have any issues when they boarded.

In some cases, some cats may refuse to use their litter trays or boxes after a boarding stay as they did before they left home. Why is your cat suddenly refusing to stick to its housetrained habits?

The Stress of Boarding

While your cat may love you in its own feline way and may have missed you when it boarded, it's likely to have missed its home more. Cats like routine and they like living in their own territory where they feel safe. Taking a cat out of its home and putting it in boarding may increase its stress levels, especially if it has never been away from home before.

This stress may change your cat's behaviour for a while once you get it home. For example, if your cat was anxious in boarding, it may bring this anxiety home with it and may refuse to urinate or defecate in its litter tray as it usually does. Typically, your cat should settle down once it feels safe again and should get back into its normal litter tray habits.

Bad Associations With the Litter Tray

You may have taken some things in from home when you left your cat in the boarding facility such as favourite toys, blankets or the cat's bed. If you also took your cat's litter tray into the facility, this may be the cause of the problem.

While you may have intended to simply give your cat a familiar place to defecate, your cat may end up associating the tray with the cattery once you get home and may refuse to use it. If you think this is a problem, you may need to think about switching to a new tray if your cat refuses to use its regular one over time.

Illness and Infections

If your cat picked up a bug or got an upset stomach from unfamiliar food or anxiety in the cattery, it may opt not to use its tray when it needs to go. In some cases, cats simply can't get to their litter trays in time if they need to toilet urgently. While spotting an upset stomach may be easy, it can be harder to spot if your cat has other medical problems, such as a urinary infection. If your cat seems ill or appears to be fine but refuses to use its tray after a couple of days, you may want to take your cat to the vet to have it checked out.

While you may think that your cat is punishing you for leaving it in a boarding facility, the refusal to use a litter tray isn't usually caused by a need for revenge. Cats generally aren't mean, and you shouldn't punish your cat if it refuses to use its tray. Typically, your cat will go back to normal once it feels safe again or once you've addressed any medical issues.