When adding a new cat or kitten to your household, one of the first things you should consider is litter box training. Creating an environment that encourages proper litter box behavior is something that will benefit your feline friend and your household. It’s important to remember that taking a little time to tend to litter box training from the start is much easier than retraining a lapsed litter box user.
There are times when even the most perfectly litter box trained cat will “take their business elsewhere. The most common reasons are:
- Dirty litter box
- Too few litter boxes for cats in home
- Dislike the texture of the litter
- New brand of litter used
- Household renovations
- Move to a new home
- New cat, dog, or person added to the household
- Change in owner’s schedule
- Threats from outside cat
- Medical condition, such as a urinary tract infection
- Physical discomfort in entering and exiting litter box
With so many litter and litter box options, it can be challenging to decide on the right one for your cat or kitten. So, how can make the right choice and keep your Kitty’s toilet habits fresh and pleasant for all? Here are the answers to some of your top litter box questions answered by the Mobile Pet Vet.
Which Type of Litter Box Is Best?
Litter box training for your new cat or kitten can be impacted by the type of box you use. There is a vast array of litter box types on the market, ranging from simple, inexpensive tray-like boxes to hooded affairs to sophisticated machines that automatically sift solid material from the litter and store it neatly in a plastic bag. When choosing a litter box, remember that what is convenient for you may not be desirable to a cat. Boxes that automatically sift litter may frighten some cats away. Hooded boxes designed to decrease odor may actually trap smells within, especially if the box is not cleaned frequently enough, and some cats find it difficult to assume a comfortable position in a covered box. On the other hand, some cats may appreciate the extra measure of privacy afforded by covered boxes, which also keep dogs and children out.
Location, Location, Location
Some multicat households may need one litter box per cat on each floor of the home, but one for every two or three cats is often enough. Place the boxes in quiet locations that are easy for the cat to reach. Don’t put them close to the feeding and drinking area. Not only do most cats dislike eliminating near where they eat, but doing so is actually unsanitary. Some cats prefer to have the box in a position that allows them to see in all directions; other cats prefer a sheltered area.
What About Fillers and Liners?
Of the many types of litter box fillers available, most cats seem to prefer the fine-grained, unscented clumping variety. In fact, many cats are repelled by any type of scented litter.
If you are adopting a new cat into a home with resident cats, provide the newcomer with the litter to which she is already accustomed. When she is relatively comfortable in her new surroundings, you can gradually switch her over to the resident cat’s litter type. Two methods work well for changing the type of litter you use (whether you have a new cat or not). You can provide separate litter boxes containing the old and new types of litter, and when you see the cat reliably using the new litter, remove the old. Or, you can mix some of the new litter in with the old, and gradually increase the proportion of new to old (this doesn’t work as well if clumping litter is mixed with with another type of litter),
Plastic litter liners make cleaning the litter box much easier, but some cats avoid boxes with liners because the liners feel funny to their feet. Also, cats can scratch through the liners, allowing urine to seep under and odor to build up.
What’s Most Important? Keeping the Litter Box Clean!
Keeping your cat’s litter box clean is perhaps the most important step you can take to ensure proper litter box behavior. It is much harder to retrain a lapsed litter box user than it is to maintain good habits.
With a clumping litter, place enough material (at least one inch, preferably more) in the box to prevent urine from leaching to the bottom and sticking. Scoop all waste every day and discard it in the garbage, or, if the litter is flushable, in the toilet. Add new litter as the level drops from scooping. Clumping litter may not need to be completely replaced for several weeks. Every time you replace the litter, wash the box with a mild dish detergent (avoid cleaning products that contain ammonia). You may also want to disinfect the box after cleaning (use a 1:32 dilution of household chlorine bleach in water; don’t use disinfectants that contain pine oil or phenolic compounds). Make sure the box is dry before replacing the litter.
With a nonclumping litter, put enough in the box to prevent urine from seeping through to the bottom. Scoop solid material out daily, and dump and replace all the litter at least once a week (sooner if the bottom of the box has become damp). Boxes filled with nonclumping litter must be washed every week. Follow the cleaning instructions given above.
Following these simple steps can help keep Kitty happy with her litter box—and help keep you happy with Kitty!