To identify potential risk factors for feline litter box issues (eg, house soiling).
3,049 privately owned cats.
Data were collected using a validated, owner-completed survey with convenience sampling. The feline behavior and personality survey included 138 statements related to cat behavior and questions concerning cat background and health. Statements related to litter box issues were subjected to factor analysis. Associations between the identified factors and personality and background variables were studied using generalized linear models. Strength of these associations (ie, importance) was evaluated by calculating relative and absolute effect sizes.
Factor analysis yielded 2 factors: house soiling and litter box fussiness. This study suggests that fearful cats are more prone to both forms of litter box issues than nonfearful individuals. Other associations we found differed between factors. For example, low sociability toward cats, male sex, and being intact associated only with increased house soiling and older age only with litter box fussiness. The most important variables in the litter box models (ie, sociability toward cats, breed, and activity/playfulness) failed to reach the suggested cutoff for a small effect size.
Numerous variables are thought to influence litter box issues, but few studies have examined their relevance. Here, we studied the associations of over 30 background variables and personality traits with 2 litter box issue factors to estimate their importance at the population level. Our results bring new knowledge to this field and may contribute to finding new solutions for these complex issues in the future.