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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Ask An Expert > Answered Questions > I Just Acquired A Cat About 4 Weeks Ago From A Rescue Shes

I just acquired a cat about 4 weeks ago from a rescue. She's around 4 years old...

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Question: 
I just acquired a cat about 4 weeks ago from a rescue. She's around 4 years old and overall a good cat. About a week after she came home with me she made a mess in the living room on the carpet and it became a recurring event at least once a day for the next couple of days, in addition to regular use of her litter box. We've blocked off the living room with a gate ever since and have been trying different things such as spraying the carpet with orange smelling products, covering it with Nature's Miracle, and putting down puppy training pads and opening it up again. Nothing seems to deter her from messing in the living room. With the living room blocked off I've not had a single issue of her not using her litter box so I'm more or less ruling out that she has litter box issues. Any ideas what might be going on? She's been to 2 different vets and both gave her a clean bill of health.
Answer: 

"Most kittens use the litter box without having to be “trained” as they often either learn this behavior from their mom or rely on their natural instinct to want to cover up their waste. Showing the kitten the box and how to scratch in it tend to be helpful to kittens that have not been exposed to the box before. Carefully watching your kitten for signs that they need to urinate or defecate such as scratching at the carpet or sniffing and circling around on the floor will allow you to quickly move them to the litter box. Keeping your kitten confined until he/she has learned the appropriate behavior, will help with training. You should try a couple different types of boxes and litters just in case there is an aversion to a specific type (cats can be quite finicky!). Also, while your kitten is confined and you need to keep their food in the same room, try and place the food as far away from the boxes as possible as cats generally do not like to eliminate near where they eat or sleep.
As for the box itself, usually putting the kitten in the box and showing them the litter will help guide them to the right behavior. When your kitten uses the bathroom outside the box, try and place a small amount of the urine and feces in the box to entice your cat to go there the next time (this may help stimulate their natural instincts). Avoid disciplining your kitten when he/she eliminates out of the box as discipline often makes the problem worse. Be sure to completely clean the areas outside the box with an enzymatic cleaner to prevent the kittens from continuing to use the same spot. Praising your kitten when he or she uses the box will be very beneficial if you actually catch her immediately after they do it. Be careful not to be loud as this may scare a kitten away but petting him/her or giving him/her treats may be helpful. "