Cats tend to be tidy pets, but most cat owners go through at least one period of finding out that their cat is relieving themselves somewhere they shouldn't. If you're experiencing this with your cat and can't make it stop, consider the following three potential triggers for this behavior.
Cat litter is typically sold with a scent in order to help cover up the smell of a cat's excrement. Unfortunately, these perfumes often don't take into account that a cat has a much stronger sense of smell than humans do. The wrong scent can be overwhelming to a cat and lead to them having a very unpleasant experience while trying to go. If your cat is too offended by the scent, they may simply stop using the box altogether.
To fix this problem, try changing litter brands to something with a different scent, or better yet, no scent at all. If your cat's box smells bad enough for you to notice it, try adding baking soda to the box to help neutralize the scent without adding more smells.
Cats often won't use the litter box if they feel anxious while doing so. This is more common if you have another pet or a child in the house. A cat who has been snuck up on while trying to 'go' can end up being afraid of it happening again, and thus will avoid the box. This is even more likely if you use a hooded litter box that prevents your cat from seeing other people on the approach.
If this is an issue with your cat, try setting up a litter box where other people and pets can't get to it. If your cat still won't use it, remove the hood. While it's helpful in preventing litter from scattering and making your house smell, it won't do any good if your cat doesn't use the box!
Lastly, sometimes illness is to blame for a cat's erratic litter box behavior. Cats may urinate elsewhere when they're having a bladder infection or kidney problems. Cats may not defecate in their box if they're experiencing pain there, as sometimes cats will confuse the pain as being caused by the place that they're in rather than what they're doing.
If the prior two tips don't clear up your cat's litter box problems, it's time to seek help from a veterinarian. Many illnesses that can cause litter box issues are treatable or manageable, but the longer you delay in getting help, the worse they can become.
With these tips, your cat should be back to using the litter box the way you want it to in no time. Remember to talk to your veterinarian about any abnormal behaviors your cat exhibits to ensure that you're not overlooking a symptom of something wrong.