Has anyone used potting soil in their indoor cat's litter box?

Galeann

Songster
Jul 2, 2018
137
310
119
Campbellsburg, Kentucky
I have adopted my daughter's cat, Ninja, after he started peeing outside the litterbox. She didn't want to banish him to live outside since they live close to a road. I don't want him to live outside here because I am almost sure i have lost a cat to coyotes soon after my husband and i moved here. I still feel terribly guilty over that. That cat was banished outside because of litter box avoidance. Ninja has been living with me for a little over a year. While I have been away for a few weeks, i think Ninja has regressed. Not sure yet. Husband didn't change litter boxes while I was away. Ninja peed just outside the litter box and near a potted plant. My daughter said she has caught Ninja peeing in one of her plants while he was still living with her. My daughter and i discussed reasons why - litter box not being cleaned often enough? or not enough attention from her? or kids being too noisy? Whatever the reason, he's a wonderful personable cat, and i feel lucky to have him with me. Anyway, I have NOT tried putting potting soil in a litter box yet. All litter boxes are clean and refilled with unscented non scoopable litter and cat attract sprinkled on top. That is my usual routine. I wanted to try my normal litter box routine first and watch his behavior. In the meantime, I would very much like to know if anyone has used potting soil as litter. How often does the litter box have to be changed if potting soil is used?
 

Peaches Lee

Crowing
10 Years
Sep 19, 2010
2,008
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286
Pennsylvania
Well, it's something that you could try. He may just be very fastidious and didn't like the dirty boxes and will resume normal routine now that "Mom" is back! Also, make sure the boxes are in a quiet, secluded place. And a good rule of thumb is one litter box more than amount of cat(s) you have (so one cat gets 2 boxes). If this doesn't work, time to schedule a Vet visit and check for UTI. Good luck!
 

cassie

Crowing
11 Years
Mar 19, 2009
6,417
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I have not used potting soil. You can try it if he won't use anything else. I use an unscented clumping litter and I have a top entry litterbox that the cat can get into but the dogs cannot.

Cats HATE a dirty litterbox and oftentimes refuse to use it. Who can blame them? I have only one cat and I scoop out his litterbox every day, or every two days at most. I keep about four inches of litter in it. The litterbox needs to be located in a quiet place where the cat doesn't have to contend with dogs or children in order to use it. It also needs to be some distance away from his food and water.
 

Dinogrrl

Chirping
Aug 17, 2019
128
327
99
North Carolina
Vet tech here, I work exclusively with cats. I definitely second the advice to rule out a medical issue first because if there is one, you're not going to have a chance to correct litterbox behaviors until it's dealt with.

The only time I've heard the vet I work for suggest using soil, leaf litter, or pine straw in a litter box was when people were trying to train an outdoor cat to indoor life. Otherwise, if the cat is using litter at all, and if your goal is for the cat to only use the litterbox, it's a better idea to remove the other substrates that are tempting him away and basically let litter be its only option so that he relearns appropriate litterbox behavior. If the cat is heavily favoring potting soil at this point, you might need to put a little bit in with the litter to attract him, and again, take away the potted plants so he targets the box more reliably.

In general though I can imagine potting soil would make rather poor litterbox material. I'm really not sure how you'd clean it out other than tossing the entire box every day. Plus a decent percentage of potting soil has roundworms in it so you're risking a lot of parasite exposure for both the cat and the humans in the house.

If this has been going on for a year or more, as I'm inferring from your post, this is probably not going to be something that will be fixed overnight. Again, I would strongly suggest the first order of business be to have the cat checked out by a veterinarian to make sure there are no medical issues to address, and then if that comes back okay, you get to move on to the tougher topic of modifying cat behavior :p. Because all this advice means nothing if what we're really battling is an ongoing FLUTD or crystalluria case.
 
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penny1960

Yippity do Da Yippity ay
Premium Feather Member
Dec 29, 2015
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They knocked on the door here welcome to Backyard Chickens yes often a cat not using a box had other problems please see vet right away
 

Willowspirit

Crowing
Mar 14, 2019
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Near Portland Oregon at 2Dogs Ranch North
Vet tech here, I work exclusively with cats. I definitely second the advice to rule out a medical issue first because if there is one, you're not going to have a chance to correct litterbox behaviors until it's dealt with.

The only time I've heard the vet I work for suggest using soil, leaf litter, or pine straw in a litter box was when people were trying to train an outdoor cat to indoor life. Otherwise, if the cat is using litter at all, and if your goal is for the cat to only use the litterbox, it's a better idea to remove the other substrates that are tempting him away and basically let litter be its only option so that he relearns appropriate litterbox behavior. If the cat is heavily favoring potting soil at this point, you might need to put a little bit in with the litter to attract him, and again, take away the potted plants so he targets the box more reliably.

In general though I can imagine potting soil would make rather poor litterbox material. I'm really not sure how you'd clean it out other than tossing the entire box every day. Plus a decent percentage of potting soil has roundworms in it so you're risking a lot of parasite exposure for both the cat and the humans in the house.

If this has been going on for a year or more, as I'm inferring from your post, this is probably not going to be something that will be fixed overnight. Again, I would strongly suggest the first order of business be to have the cat checked out by a veterinarian to make sure there are no medical issues to address, and then if that comes back okay, you get to move on to the tougher topic of modifying cat behavior :p. Because all this advice means nothing if what we're really battling is an ongoing FLUTD or crystalluria case.
:goodpost:
 

BullChick

Enslaved by a Duckling
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Apr 17, 2012
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Coffee shop
Since I don’t see anyone mentioning it, I’m gonna.
Only once has a cat not liked the litter I used. It’s not typical, but it does happen. Of course, dirty boxes, busy location and UTI are also issues.
 

Fishkeeper

Crowing
Oct 30, 2017
2,345
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Central Texas
Cats don't like to make a mess. If they aren't using a litter box but know how to use one, it's because something is wrong, and generally that something can be helped.
 

Aquatic_blue

Songster
May 14, 2019
264
534
153
I decided to use potting soil before and let me tell you, it was a bad idea! I wanted a more natural alternative so we tried it out. The cats actually avoided it and didn't like using it. The soil in the bags can be a bit moist upon first opening. We didn't think that when we poured it in their box. Eventually we had flies and maggots like crazy! Ants love it, too. If I were to ever consider it again, I would say dry out the soil first.

Make sure like it was mentioned to rule out health problems. I adopted a cat that for a few years would jump on the bed next to me and just pee everywhere. She wasn't getting in her box or making it to her box and later she got really sick. She was lethargic, she wasn't grooming herself (her mama cat did), and she wasn't getting up to play or eat. She had an intestinal blockage and kidney failure. After fluids and such she was better, and we still don't know what the blockage was but it seemed like she ate something she shouldn't have. After a year or so of recovery she was back to using her cat box from then on. At first we thought it was a behavioral issue until she became ill so it is worth mentioning to your vet.

Make sure you clean the litterbox at least once a day no matter whether it looks clean or not to you. Cats generally do not like a dirty box. My cats would refuse to use it if I did not clean it once a day. Make this a priority. Also make sure the cat is not repelled by the cat attractant. Keep the cat box in a quiet place - not near highly trafficked areas. One of our cats was scared out of the box if someone walked too close when she was going and what a mess that would be....

If the cat must be an outdoor cat, there are cat enclosures that can be made so the cat can enjoy time outdoors and safe from predators.

I hope you find a good solution soon!
 

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