Understanding Cat Litter Box Behavior
There are certain things to consider in owning a cat. As soon as you are prepared to bring a cat into your home, make sure you have prepared all the things that are essential in making your new pet feel welcome and at ease. It is also significant to not only make sure you provide them high-quality and nutritious foods, proper veterinary care, a safe environment and lots of love and affection but to also give some thought to your cat’s litter box. While this may not seem like a very necessary subject at first, the litter box can rapidly become the major focus of your attention by the time your cat decides to stop using it. Litter box issues are one of the major reasons that cats end up being given to shelters and one of the most common issues that people seek veterinary advice about.
The most common reason why cats avoid using the litter box is that the litter box is dirty – from the cat’s viewpoint, not yours. Cats often react to any form of stress by suddenly and abruptly urinating or defecating outside the litter box. The stress may be caused by a new feline in the neighborhood, too many cats in the house, children home on vacation or you are going away on vacation or a new piece of furniture. Urinary tract problems also cause cats to urinate in places other than the litter box. Any sudden change in elimination habits should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention.
Choosing a Cat’s Litter Box
In purchasing a litter box, buy those concealed cat litter boxes. Choose a box that is relatively deep and fine-grained. Cats seem to like a litter that has the consistency of beach sand or garden soil in general. Many cats tend to avoid the litter box because the litter is too shallow or coarse. Do not purchase litters that contain perfumes or deodorants, as cats usually dislike it. Also, avoid using clumping litters with young kittens, as they can be harmful when ingested and kittens sometimes eat kitty litter.
Some people use newspaper in place of kitty litter with a new kitten, but this is not a good idea as it is not very absorbent and toxic ink may be transferred to the cat’s paws and then ingested during grooming. Moreover, if a cat learns to use newspaper on the floor, he is just as expected to use any newspaper that is lying around on a sofa or table later on, so this is not a good habit to encourage.
How to Train a Kitten to use the Litter Box
In training a cat to use the litter box, location of the litter box is important. A cat needs to feel secure when using the box or he will find a more private place. The box should be in a low-traffic area of the house where disturbances are unlikely and nowhere near the cat’s water and food bowls or his bed. Boxes in noisy areas or near food and water sources will usually be avoided. Also, if you have more than one cat, each cat should have his own litter box in a different area of the house, as the new cat may view the old box as the territory of the resident cat and not want to go near it.
Putting a wide tray under the box helps prevent litter from being kicked onto the floor by a high-spirited, enthusiastic feline. A small mat placed at the entrance to the litter box is also advantageous because it removes litter from the kitten’s toes so that it does not get tracked into other areas of the house.
Size and type of litter box is also essential in cat litter box training. There are numerous types of litter boxes available, including self-cleaning boxes, covered boxes, and boxes designed to fit into corners. Make sure the litter boxes you provide are the right sizes for your cats. Bear in mind that kittens or aged cats may need boxes with lower sides. If you need a huge box with relatively low sides, consider using sweater storage boxes. You can also cut down the sides of the sweater box if required. Some cats may feel more protected in a litter box with a hood. This can also be useful for cats who dig very enthusiastically as they cover things up. This may also work well for cats that stand on the edge of the box to urinate or defecate. However, a hooded box can distillate odor and should be cleaned daily. The new automatic self-cleaning litter boxes can save on clean-up time, but some models are noisy. Some cats seem to be disturbed by the noise, some apparently are not. If you have numerous cats, you might want to provide various types of litter boxes and let your cats choose between them.
Steps in Litter Training a Cat
Cats are extremely clean, private and meticulous creatures and they may avoid a litter box that is not cleaned often enough. Most cats have a strong instinct to use a litter box and some do not need to be housebroken similarly to how we housetrain dogs. However, keeping some litter box basics in mind can be helpful in keeping your cat content and prevent problems from starting. Here are some steps that are essential in training your cat to use the litter box.
- Have the litter box daily cleaned. Your cats will avoid it and start using other places if the box is too dirty and smelly.
- Cats can be fussy. If you have recently changed brands of litter, then try changing back.
- Try to ad shredded shiny newspaper on top of their regular litter if your cat has been declawed; their paws may be sore when they dig in the litter. The shiny newspaper cushions their paws and will not stick to their sensitive paws.
- Try to put the litter box and your feline in a small room or bathroom. Make sure he has plenty of food and water. Check on your cat once an hour. If the cat has eliminated correctly in the box, praise him and let him out for some supervised playtime, or give him a treat. Then put him back in the room. Repeat two or three times until it seems that your cat is used to it.
- If the cat misses the box, place the feces in the litter box and do not pay further attention to the cat. Leave the room and check again in an hour.
- If your feline is still avoiding the litter box, take him to the vet to make sure there is no underlying medical reason for this behavior. Urinary infections, kidney problems or parasites can be reasons the kitten is not using the litter box.
- Moreover, think of any reasons that there may be some behavioral issues that may cause the cat to act up such as adding another animal or person in the house, moving the box to a new location, changing routines, noise or light changes. These can be indications that your cat is stressed. A checkup and a discussion with your vet will be helpful to you and your cat!