Thursday, March 25, 2010

Litter Box Basics

Urinating inappropriately can be one of the most frustrating things for cat owners to have to deal with. And since there are many reasons why cats eliminate inappropriately it is impossible to always know the exact cause. But setting your house and the litter box up properly is one step in the right direction. Here are some great tips to remember when you are bringing a new cat into your home.

Location, location, location – Cats like to eliminate in private. If the litter box is in a high traffic area of the house, the cat may not feel comfortable enough to go there.

To cover or not to cover, that is the question – many cats prefer covered litter boxes, they are about as private as it gets. But if your cat refuses to use a covered litter box, try removing the lid.

Size is definitely important – cats need to be able to completely turn around in the litter box. It is also important that the box has high sides if it is not covered to prevent accidents over the side. Higher sides also help reduce litter spray.

There are many options out there – clay, pine, corn, clumping, non-clumping the options are endless when it comes to litter types. Since cats don’t like change, picking one type of litter and sticking with it is the easiest way to ensure proper habits.

Keep it clean- this is the most important thing when house training cats. Cats don’t like to get their feet dirty and many will not even go into the litter box if it is too dirty. What is too dirty? That is up to the individual cat! Scooping at least once a day is mandatory, twice a day is preferred by most cats (and it helps reduce the smell too!)

Sharing may not be an option here – The rule of thumb is to have one more litter box than you have cats. But in a multi cat household, that could mean a lot of litter boxes. However, sometimes there are cases when one cat will not allow another to use “their” box. And if there are not any other options, sometimes the poor cat has no choice. This is one of those cases where it is better to be safe than sorry – having too many litter boxes is better than having to clean up accidents.

Talk to your vet – if your cat begins to urinate inappropriately you should call you vet and talk to him about a possible infection. If an infection has been ruled out, and these tricks don’t work, ask for a referral to a behaviorist.