The 20 Year Old Senior Cat and His Litter Box Woes



Let me start by shouting a bit HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY TO NILES! even though he won’t hear it. The old boy has officially made it to 20 years of life and is still trucking along. He’s slower, needs more frequent oil changes, his radio doesn’t work, and he has a little rust, but he’s still a totally drivable little truck.

On that note, I wanted to talk about his litter issues. For the last year, I’ve been noticing him choosing new and exciting places to pee – the front hall rug, in front of the TV, adjacent to the litter box, in the doggie’s bed. I thought perhaps he’d just given up caring, but I knew that as a fastidious gentleman, there was clearly something else going on, so I looked a little deeper. While I was looking, I surreptitiously slipped some Pee Pads under the rugs and in his favorite spots so as not to embarrass him.

First, I noticed he had a limp. I thought we were going to have to go to the vet until I checked his paws and realized he had a bunch of clumping litter stuck between his toes making it too difficult and painful to walk. After a brief foot bath in a small dish and a lot of screaming and yelling from both of us, his toes were clean and he could walk again. This necessitated a switch of litters to a gentler formula and we went with Shwheat Scoop. It works great for him, though I’m not too happy with the fact that my house frequently smells like litter box – there’s nothing in it, so there’s no smell control. Natural, yes. Fragrant, yes. Pleasant, not so much, but we’ll deal with it for Niles.

Next, I watched him use the box. He turned and spun and squatted, then bumped the sides. He tried again, and turned, and got his head all covered in dust. Then he tried another box and another box, then went back to the first box, then gave up and went back to bed. I realized that the arthritis in his hips was making it difficult to squat. It’s hard to find a large enough litter pan for a cat with these issues, so I went upstairs into my storage and pulled everything out of the under the bed storage container, filled it with Shwheat Scoop, and he was back in business, or doing his business, as it were.

As of late, there have been no new whizzing adventures and he’s faithfully using his storage box. My attic needs a cleaning now, but I’d prefer that instead of the surprise whiz puddles I’ve been stumbling into.

So, for those only scanning, my TIPS FOR A SENIOR CAT’S LITTER BOX ISSUES are:

  • Mind your litter type. Clay litters can get caught in between their toes, especially if they’re accidentally peeing on their own feet, and that can be painful and upsetting. Use something gentle.
  • Have a large enough box that squatting wide isn’t an issue. Use an under bed storage tote or look for one of those dog litter boxes (yup, that’s a thing) with the large surface area and low entry way
  • Keep the box in a place that’s easily accessible. Don’t make him go upstairs, downstairs, or too far away.
  • Pee Pads will become your new friend
Here we have the new litter tote next to the high-sided box that Pinkle requires. Note the pee pads taped to the wall because now Pinkle enjoys the freedom of the tote but can’t seem to color within the lines, so to speak.

And with that, I wish my fabulous senior kitty Niles Chesterfield a happy, happy 20th birthday. He’s been around just about half my life now, and I look forward to having him here for as long as he wishes to stay.



Niles stealth-chillin’ in his little flip out, soft foam bed. I had to put the towel there just to be able to spot him.

**FTC DISCLOSURE: This post was not paid for nor is it an ad. All products mentioned here are things I purchased on my own and all opinions are my own. No reviews were requested from any of the products mentioned. **

LitterBox Rescue – Are You Having Litter Box Problems?

You Guys!

I shall assume you are all aware by now that litter box skills for a cat are of utmost importance. I have, in fact, heard that poor box skills are one of the top reasons that people surrender their kitties. (Not in this house, tho – one of us could pee a river on MomFOD’s head and she still wouldn’t give us up)

Contemplating my box skills.

Contemplating my box skills.

Now, I know for a fact that in this house, several of us have occasionally, shall we say, missed the mark. For instance, there was that time when Peabody was keeping me away from the box so I would scream at DadFOD and pee on his sweater to let him know. Box moved = problem solved! That was an issue of placement and cat warfare. Mrs. Peabody also developed box issues recently because she was suffering from a bought of SIBO or Small Bacterial Intestinal Overgrowth, which caused her painful poop that she then associated with the box. She is mostly back on target now, so to speak, but her cause was medical. And then there was that time Niles peed in the Christmas bin…


Anyway, there are many reasons for which a cat might discontinue use of his or her litter box. They might be medical or behavioral. Some things to look for:

  • Is your cat experiencing pain? Does he have a medical problem? See a doctor ASAP to find out.
  • Is your box clean? Some cats won’t use a dirty box.
  • Is your cat marking territory? Do you have a new cat that might have caused this?
  • Is there another cat keeping one of your cats away from the box in a territory dispute?
  • Is your box covered? Some cats hate covered boxes.
  • Is the box in a place that makes the cat feel unsafe? Cats need to feel safe and calm when using the box.
  • Did you switch litters? Some kitties hate change and will rebel.
  • Is your cat de-clawed? Hopefully not, but if so, see a vet to make sure that they’re not experiencing pain in their feet that’s exacerbated by the litter pawing.

The first thing you should do, always, is have your kitty checked by a vet to rule out medical issues, then start looking around for behavioral problems or litter box problems that might affect his behavior. Sometimes, a very simple thing could be the cause.

Don’t give up on your kitty! Your kitty would never give up on you!

And now… for some expert advice, we have here a video with famed box consultant Louie Sorbet who’s giving the Johnson residence a kick in the butt for poor litter box skills.




PS.  In light of French CATastrophe (CHATastrophe) getting such a great reception lately because of its Catdance win, we’re hoping that maybe Ellen DeGeneres will notice it and fall in love with Guy LaFurrr. A lofty dream, we know, but we have a plan! Tomorrow, we’re gathering all of our forces to send Ellen’s media team our video! So, if you have a moment, please join us in tweeting and sharing the video on her Facebook page. We would be ever so grateful.  We’ll provide all the info you need. We know with your support we can do it! #TeamGuyLaFurrr