Almost nothing is as frustrating as a cat who can’t or won’t use the litter box. Spending hours scrubbing cat urine out of your carpets is enough to make even the most dedicated feline fanatic question their choices in life.
While there are medical reasons that your kitty might miss the mark when it comes to using the box, many feline inappropriate elimination issues stem from behavioral issues. Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital wants to help you steer clear of problems by laying out some litter box basics to set you up for success.
Litter Box Preparation is Key
Plopping down a box with some litter in it may seem simple enough, but putting some thought into your setup can make all the difference in the world for your cat. Many of our feline friends are quite picky about their litter box, and by taking their preferences into account you can ensure your success.
When setting up a litter box, keep the following in mind:
- Your cat needs a box wide and tall enough to accommodate him comfortably (a shallow storage container can work well for larger cats)
- Most cats appreciate being able to stand comfortably inside the box
- Uncovered litter boxes are usually preferred
- Most cats prefer fine-grained, unscented clumping litter (sorry, no pumpkin spice scented cat litter)
- Cats like consistency- avoid changing litter brands
- The litter should be deep enough for burying waste, but not so deep that it is difficult to walk in (around two inches deep is usually ideal)
- Mechanical boxes that automatically scoop can be scary for some kitties
Location is also important. Set up your litter box in a quiet location away from traffic, other pets, and noise such as that from the washing machine or water softener.
The rule of thumb is to provide one box per cat in the household plus one (i.e. a two cat household should provide three litter boxes). It is also advisable to keep a litter box on each level of the home that your cat has access to.
Litter Box Maintenance
Once you have the perfect set up (follow your cat’s lead), you need to maintain the space. Just as you might avoid that Walmart restroom that isn’t up to your cleanliness standards, so will your cat.
It is good practice to:
- Scoop litter boxes at least daily
- Scoop covered boxes multiple times per day
- Change out your cat’s litter weekly
- Wash litter boxes weekly to monthly with a mild, unscented soap
- Avoid using heavy scents such as deodorizers or cleaners near the box
Some cats are more particular than others, but holding your kitty cleaning standards high can help prevent problems.
If your cat suddenly decides that the litter box is no longer a desirable place to be, starting by going back to the basics and ensuring that you are doing your part is a good place to start.
Don’t forget that there are also medical reasons that cats avoid the litter box or are urinating more than normal. Kidney problems, urinary tract infections, bladder inflammation, arthritis, constipation, and diabetes can all be culprits.
If your cat is not using the litter box properly, especially if it is a new or sudden problem, please make an appointment to see us. We will want to check out medical reasons for the change. If we rule out underlying causes for pottying outside of the box, we are happy to help you troubleshoot behavioral problems.
Encouraging your cat to use the litter box is a team effort. If you commit to doing your part, chances are your pet will, too.