Cat Won’t Use Pellet Litter? Here’s How to Get Them To

If your cat won’t use pellet litter, there are a few ways to encourage them to. Make sure the litter box is clean and welcoming. Try moving the litter box to a quieter location. Place some used litter in the box to make it smell more familiar to them.

If your cat is new to pellet litter, sometimes you’ve simply made the transition too quickly. In other cases, your cat may just not like pellets and shouldn’t be forced.

Call the vet if your cat suddenly won’t use the litter box

If your cat was already comfortably using pellet litter and suddenly stops, there may be more to the story than the litter itself.

And it may be cause for concern. 

Orange tabby cat at vet

Any time your cat suddenly stops using the litter box or starts going outside it, you should contact your veterinarian. Changes in bathroom behavior can be an early sign of health problems in cats.

While it could be strictly behavioral, you’ll want to rule out any potential physical problems. Urinary blockages are particularly concerning, as the problem is often left unnoticed or assumed to be minor. But in reality, can quickly become fatal. 

How to get your cat to use pine pellet litter

Deep clean the litter box

If you’ve contacted your vet and ruled out a physical problem, there’s probably something that your cat doesn’t like about their litter setup.

Oftentimes, it’s as simple as a dirty litter box. 

Pellets should be sifted daily and solids scooped as soon as possible. And while pellets last about four weeks on average, problems like diarrhea or frequent urination may warrant a quicker change.

Dump the litter and give the litter box a good cleaning with warm water and a mild detergent. If you have a plastic litter box, it should be replaced at least once per year. Plastic absorbs odor, causing the litter box itself to smell.

Learn more ways to make your pine pellet litter box smell better.

Choose a peaceful location for the litter box

Orange tabby cat entering litter box in peaceful, quiet location

Other times, your cat may be stressed by the location of their litter box, even if they’ve used that spot without issue in the past. 

Avoid keeping the litter box in areas with heavy foot traffic, loud or abrupt noises, and where dogs or other pets may disrupt them. Even if the area seems peaceful enough, there may be something that we don’t notice causing the disturbance.

Try a new location and observe for several days.

If your cat is new to pellets 

If your cat is new to pellets, it’s important to consider that most cats hate change.

Like, really hate change. 

The transition from clay litter to pellets can be particularly challenging because the texture and scent are so drastically different than what they’re used to. If you try to make the switch too quickly, it can be more than a little stressful for them.

Even if you follow the recommended steps to switch to pellets, some cats may take a longer time to adjust. Each step may be repeated as many times as necessary. You may even need to start completely over and try again.

Just don’t rush the process.

If your cat is particularly hesitant, try adding some used litter to the litter box to make it smell more familiar to them.

Don’t force it

Some cats may not like the scent of pine litter. Heavy cats, senior cats, and declawed cats may be uncomfortable standing on the coarse texture of pellets. Other cats may just not like pellets, preferring something with a texture more similar to the dirt or sand they’d use in the wild. 

No matter the situation, if your cat seems resistant to using pellets, the best solution may be to just try another type of litter

They’re the one using the litter box. Allow them to make the final decision.


If you’re sure that your cat is in good health, they may not be using their pellet litter because of the cleanliness or location of the litter box. If they’re new to pellets, they may just need more time to adjust. 

Whatever the case, don’t force your cat to use a certain type of litter. Instead, try to learn their preferences and make the decision together. 

About Matthew Alexander

Matthew lives in Maryland with his two cats, Puff and Pancho. He’s been caring for and fostering cats with various special needs for more than fifteen years. He hopes to pass some of the insight and knowledge that he’s gained on to the readers of Pawmore.