Litter pans are a necessary part of responsible cat ownership. But how can you ensure that your cats won’t stray from their pans and soil other parts of your home? The answer depends not only on your own habits, but also on your understanding of feline behavior.
Here are a few cat box care tips you can put into action today:
Cleanliness is critical. Cats are finicky about a lot of things—including cleanliness. Most like their toileting facilities clean and well kept, and if they are not, your cat likely will have no problem showing its disapproval by urinating or defecating somewhere far less desirable. The best way to prevent this problem is to stay a little ahead of schedule when it comes to litter box maintenance. Alternate-day scooping and weekly litter replacement are usually enough to keep most cats in single-cat homes true to their pans.
If those maintenance requirements seem high, you may want to employ a high-tech solution and check out a self-cleaning litter box. But be aware, they require emptying and litter replacement.
Have enough litter pans. Cats are territorial, and even cats that share a home and get along well may become a little salty when asked to share toileting facilities. While multiple cats may be willing to share litter boxes, they’d prefer their own toileting space.
Cats require “at least one box more than the number of cats” in the household. Some cats won’t share at all and will go elsewhere if another animal goes in their pan, whereas others may not mind a two-cats-per-pan arrangement. A little attention to your pets’ habits will likely tell you all you need to know about their litter box preferences ad behaviors.
Bigger is better. Your cat’s litter box should be large enough for your animal to climb in and out easily. And the box should be sufficiently ballasted with litter to prevent tipping (especially for large breed or obese animals). A tipped litter pan is a sure way to guarantee your cat will soil other areas of your home.
Maintain a stable environment. Cats tend to cope poorly with drastic or rapid changes to their environment. So once you do settle upon the proper number of litter pans and an optimal location, try to avoid making any changes to that environment (such as lighting, sound, or scent). Even the products that you use to address cat odor can put your cats off their pan. Citrus odors, for example are not a feline fave, while the aroma of cedarwood seems to draw cats to their boxes.
Know when to make a vet visit. Sometimes toileting outside the litter pan is the result of a behavioral issue, but other times the cause could be medical. If your cat seems to have trouble defecating or urinating, strains or cries when toileting, or seems to adopt a pained to hunched posture, the problem may be a urinary tract infection or blockage. These conditions are serious and require immediate veterinary attention. Also, if persistent failure to use the litter box is accompanied by lethargy, loss of appetite or difficulty breathing, take your animal to the vet, as these may be signs of a more serious underlying health problem.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.