FloridaWild Vet Hospital

Careful Litter Box Management is the Key to Happier Cats

When it comes to talking about litter boxes and litter there is hardly anything that’s more controversial for cat owners. Kitty owners can chat ad infinitum, extolling the merits of various types of boxes, different brands of litter and sometimes it can even result in hissy spats. I tell you… when it comes to discussing kitty’s toilet preferences, the fur can easily fly!

I consider myself to be a feline sanitation expert, (clearing throat). This is based on my years of experience experimenting with a huge number of various brands. The top litter on our hit parade is a popular corn-based litter that we think the brand’s name; “World’s Best Cat Litter,” fits it to a “T”. This litter is virtually dust-free, flushable and is septic tank safe. Not only is it ecologically friendly, our kitties think it’s the “cat’s pajamas.” It clumps firmly, and when it’s time to clean the litter boxes, it can be dumped in the trash without negatively impacting the environment.

Although many cats generally prefer soft, finely grained litter, before deciding on the type of litter that your cats will like, you should experiment with a variety of litters, in several different boxes. By providing them with more than one type of litter from which they can choose, you will discover more about their individual preferences. Although this may be somewhat inconvenient, it will undoubtedly give you an idea of how to truly make your cats happy.

If our cats could make a sales pitch for the type of litter box they prefer, they would proclaim – paw’s down, The Clevercat Litter Box. It measures 15 inches high, 20 inches long and 15 inches wide, along with an optional Snap-On top with a nine-inch hole allowing access, this litter box has plenty of turning around room. This roominess is only one reason that our cats give it such a high acceptability rating. Since neutered cats may continue some “macho” behavior when using a litter box; preferring to stand up to “pee”, the Clevercat’s height is yet another reason because it prevents messy clean ups outside the box, because urine won’t spill over the rim. The optional top is grooved to catch litter; minimizing any tracking.

When it comes to digging in the box, cats can be very picky about what they deem acceptable. If the litter does not meet their standards; unpleasant results can occur. Inappropriate elimination is one of major problems cat servants can face. Since this behavior might be symptomatic of a medical problem, it’s very important to have your cat checked out by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Perfumed litter, or litter with a texture your cat dislikes or even a dirty litter box can also lead to inappropriate elimination. Additionally, depending on the number of cats sharing the home, sufficient numbers of boxes are not provided. Litter box problems can also arise due to conflicts between resident cats. Some cats refuse to use a box that another cat has used. The rule of thumb to make cats happy is one box per cat, plus one. Some cats also prefer to defecate in one box and urinate in another box. Go figure!

Litter box placement is a critical factor in getting cats to use them. Keeping them in a remote location is not appealing to cats; they prefer boxes within easy striking range. Placing a box in an area in which your cat can have some privacy from other cats is helpful. Older cats may not be able to run upstairs quickly, so providing litter boxes on different levels in your home will be much appreciated.

Most cats prefer at least a depth of two to three inches of litter in the box. The box must be kept scrupulously clean and scooped out several times a day. As litter level drops, add fresh litter. We dump and wash our boxes out in very hot water every two to three weeks with a mild detergent, rinsing it carefully, and filling it with fresh litter.

To be honest, litter box management is both an art and science. Many people don’t realize how significantly we can influence the way in which our cats utilize their “toilet” facilities appropriately which helps to eliminate many problems associated with litter boxes.

By: Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW, (Ret.)

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