Q. My cat seems to have lost control of her bowels and no longer uses her litter box even to urinate. She is 5 or 6 yrs and is in good health otherwise
JESSICA L DESROSIERS
A. If your cat has had a sudden change in litter box habits, it is always a good idea to rule out any underlying issues with a wellness check from your vet. Bringing in a urine and stool sample if possible can also help as tests can be run on these samples to check for common infections or parasites. If these are present, treating them usually helps resolve the problem of not using the box.
Loss of bowel control usually results in dribbling of feces or urine rather than complete accidents. If you are seeing this, it is possible that an injury to the hind end or problem with the nerves or muscles is happening and should be looked at by your vet.
If the accidents are complete (full amount of stool, big puddle of urine) your cat may be choosing not to use the litter box due to illness, a too-dirty litter, litter pans that are too tall (which may make older cats have a harder time getting in and out), or a litter substrate that was changed too suddenly. Sometimes, changing the environment your cat's litter box is in by lowering the sides, moving food and water dishes away and returning back to a previously liked litter can help.
In any area of an accident, an enzymatic cleaner should be used. These break down urine and stool particles, making it so that your cat is less likely to be attracted to going there again. Moving stools to the litter box can also entice your cat to start going there again.