Tips for Litter Box Management

by | Apr 30, 2018 | Feline Care | 0 comments

Is this box large enough for a family of 2 or 3 cats?

 

Meeting Simple Feline Standards

Because cats really do care about the location, size, smell, and cleanliness of their litter boxes, it is important to provide a toilet facility that meets their standards.

Cats like to be clean. Since cats have to climb into a litter box and will get the odor of whatever is in the box onto their fur, they prefer to enter a box that is clean. If you have been getting away with a less than perfectly clean box and your cats are not protesting, then you have been very lucky.

Since cats lick themselves to bathe, and since they prefer to be clean, cats will be ingesting some of whatever you use for their litter. For health and other reasons, this should be an important consideration.

You also want to avoid them inhaling dust from clay litters that can cause serious breathing problems down the road.

The most important thing to remember is that changes in an animal’s behavior are indications of a problem. Animals do not suddenly change their behavior for no reason.   When it comes to litter boxes, the first thing a change in behavior might indicate is a health problem.

While each cat is a unique individual and has unique preferences and tolerances, here are some simple litter box tips that may be helpful to you and your cat(s).

 

The Family Litter box.  Not everyone looks happy.

THE BOX

1. Make sure the box is large enough for the cat.  A box that fits a kitten well might become too small for the same cat as an adult. Adult cats come in a variety of sizes, so keep that in mind as well.

2. “Location . . . location . . . location” – not just a slogan for real estate.  Put litter boxes in places that are easy for each cat to get into and out of without being trapped or jumped on by other felines in the house. Also, choose a location that is just plain easy for a cat to use.

3. The recommended number of boxes to have is 1 for each cat + 1 more. This may not be necessary if you have only 1 or 2 cats, but as the number of felines goes up, this general rule becomes more important.

4. Plastic litter boxes eventually pick up the smell of urine.  It is advisable to replace boxes every couple of years.  While still in use, adding some baking soda to the litter in the spots where your cats prefer to urine can help make the box last longer.

THE LITTER

Cats are very clean animals, and it’s healthier for them to clean litter boxes and healthy types of litter.

1. Pick out the pee and poop a minimum of twice daily – more often if possible. Cats do not like to dig through urine and feces to “find a spot.”

2. Change the litter completely at least once a week, especially if you are not using a good quality clumping litter that is easy to pick out.

3. Choose a scent-free litter or one with a mild scent that is natural to the product of which the litter is made. Cats have a strong sense of smell and may not like having a chemical smell on their fur. This is also healthier for your cat, as the chemical gets on them and they ingest it when they groom.

4. Do not use chemicals or anything scented when you wash the box. Cat noses are much more sensitive than human noses, and if you use something that they don’t like to smell, they may stop using the box. Remember, also, that chemicals can be toxic, so use natural, safe products.

Exception:  I use a brand of Tincture of Green Soap which is antibacterials and has some lavender oil in it.  When I rinse the box, there’s a hint of lavender remaining, which is a calming energy that my cats enjoy.

Additional Note:  I once tried a brand of litter made from pine.  One of my cats found the scent way too strong and hated it.

5. Some cats are very sensitive to the texture of the litter, especially if the cat has been declawed. A softer litter can increase a cat’s comfort even if it is not a clumping litter.

6. When changing to a new litter, it is best to mix the two litters together for a week or more. This gives your cats a chance to adjust to the new smell, color, and texture.  Make sure your cats are comfortable with the new litter before giving up on the old.

ELDER CATS

Some cats, as they age, develop arthritic problems in their legs, backs, and/or hind end. This may make it difficult for them to climb into a normal litter box.  Here are some things you can do to help your senior citizen feline continue to use a litter box.

1. Try a cookie sheet as a litter tray so your elder cat can easily climb into it.  Boxes with the opening 4-5-6 inches high may be too difficult for them to climb into to urinate.  Some cats will get in to move their bowels, but since they urinate more often, the cat may give up on making the climb more frequently.

2. Some cats will adapt to “wee wee pads” while others still prefer to have litter in the cookie tray so they can cover their feces and urine.

3. A cardboard box can surround the tray with one end opened flat for easy access. This will minimize how much litter gets spread around due to the low sides of the cookie sheet. It will also keep the tray from moving around when the cat is using it, making it more comfortable for your cat to adapt.

4. Litter boxed designed for elderly cats.  If you try this, be sure to get one that’s large enough for your cat.  You can also put the box in a boot tray from the local hardware store to help keep the litter down when your cat exits the box.

5. If you feel handy and want to construct a box with high sides and low entry that will definitely be large enough for your cat, you’ll find some instructions online with just a little research.

* * * * *

For help with litter box problems, consider Animal Communication.  When we discover why your cat is not using the litter box, we have an opportunity to identify underlying issues and resolve them.

Cats like to be clean, and when they stop using the litter box, they aren’t “bad.”  They are trying to communicate with you in a way that is designed to get your attention.

Contact Nedda at 860-651-5771 or neddaw@sbcglobal.net

Copyright © Nedda Wittels

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