In the latest instalment of our cat care column, pet expert Pauline Dewberry looks at the important issue of providing facilities for your furry friend's calls of nature.

Probably the most frequent problem that comes through my inbox is that of a cat that stops using the litter tray and finds somewhere else to go to the toilet.

This is called ‘inappropriate elimination’ and the places a cat chooses can be right out in the open – the carpet, the bed, the kitchen floor or even a work top, or he can be fiendishly clever and find places that no one would ever think of – behind the curtains, or the sofa, under the bed.

Often, it’s only a smell that alerts Fluffy’s owners that something is amiss and then, with Poirot precision, begins the race against time to find where the obnoxious odour is coming from.

There are many reasons why a cat will stop using their litter tray and probably, one of the most important ones is position.

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One lady said the litter tray was just by the front door so when her little Sweetums was deep in concentration, the thud as a particularly heavy envelope hitting poor Sweetums on the head sent the bewildered cat flying up the stairs where she continued her ablutions on the landing.

Try to find an area in your house where it is quiet, and your cat can do his business in private. I used to place the litter tray under the dining room table which was perfectly ok because it was only me in the house. Obviously, with a proper family set-up, Fluffy doing a stinker while you’re having breakfast is not very nice, so you’ll have to rethink the layout of your house to suit Fluffy’s toileting needs.

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Another huge mistake is that people often put the litter tray right next to the food and water bowls. This would be like you and I having a table in our bathroom. It’s a huge no-no. Cats in the wild will eat their prey, then find a puddle or a source of water – a stream perhaps – and then go elsewhere to do their business. They do NOT eat, drink and toilet in the same place.

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I know that some kitchens are small so cat parents have to economise on space but although your cat may use his tray, it will be through gritted teeth. And kitchens are busy places; a lot goes on and your poor cat may not want to do anything while you’ve got the neighbour’s kids round or you’re having a party night.

It isn’t Fluffy’s fault that he’s had to be devious and find somewhere peaceful where he can read the paper while he’s about his business. And it’s never right to punish a cat for something that is, truthfully, not his fault.

Pauline is a pet behaviourist as well as being a pet bereavement counsellor. She also runs