4 Important Litter Box Tips for Fluffy

December 10, 2013

A friend told me recently that she’s having trouble getting her new cat to use the litter box.  Sometimes she does; sometimes she doesn’t.  The fact is that many cats are picky about their litter boxes.

We cat owners know how important it is for kitty to be happy with her personal potty place, because there is nothing worse than floors with the aroma of cat urine and feces.  The following four tips should cover most problems you are likely to encounter with your cat’s bathroom issues.

Beautiful Bella

Consider the size of your cat!  A small kitten may find it difficult to climb into a box with high sides.  The nearby carpet may seem so much easier to navigate.  You may want to start her with a smaller, easy-to-reach litter box.  A senior cat with arthritis might also prefer a more shallow entry to her box.  Larger breeds require larger boxes.  Don’t expect a full-grown Maine Coon to fit into one of the smaller containers.  She won’t be happy, and you won’t enjoy cleaning it.  A senior cat with arthritis might also prefer a more shallow entry to her box.

Manual or automatic?  The traditional litter box is basically a plastic, washable box that you fill with your choice of kitty litter.  You can manually scoop out the mess with a small, slotted “shovel” or scoop.  Once a week, you should dump the entire contents into a trash bag and hose out the box, add some soapy water and follow with a swish around of a diluted bleach mixture.  Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry before adding a layer of fresh litter.

Automatic litter boxes with attached rakes are popular with many pet owners.  Some cats may be afraid of the noise from the motor, so be cautious about running it when kitty is close by.  The attachments rake through the litter when you turn on the motor.  Then it removes the clumps to a separate tray below.  The automatic litter boxes are supposed to work especially well for homes with multiple felines.

Cat litter is personal.  Cats are very particular about what goes into their litter boxes.  With kittens, start as you intend to go on because it isn’t easy to convince an older cat to switch brands.  Our cats are used to an inexpensive, non-clumping litter and will not use a clay litter that clumps.  They also refuse to go near a litter containing a fragrance.  This means their box must be cleaned frequently but as long as they both use the box as they are supposed to, we are fine with that.

Covered or not?  Some cats like the privacy of a covered box.  Others freak out at the sight of such an enclosed space. Don’t force the issue.  Provide what kitty wants to ensure she will use it.

If the above suggestions are followed, and you are still having problems convincing your cat to use her box, the veterinarian should be consulted for possible health issues.  In the case of my friend whose new cat considers the box a hit or miss proposition, I would suggest confining her to a small area – say, a couple of smaller rooms until she gets the message that the use of the litter box is not a choice.  Once she gets the message and uses it regularly for a couple days, she can then be allowed more territory to explore.

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