Sunday 5 April 2009

Litter Box Habits

When I say litter box habits, I mean for us and our cats and mainly for us because what we do mostly dictates what out cats does. And when I hear that the most common complaint about cats is "inappropriate elimination" (a ghastly phrase) or "house soiling" or requests on "how to train your cat [to use the litter]" I get a little uneasy because this puts the emphasis on the cat when, in fact, in my experience the emphasis should be firmly placed on us. We manage the situation. We need to create and maintain a suitable substitute for what would have been soil in the wild.

If our cat does go to the toilet in the wrong place or we think that she has bad litter box habits the following checks should be made before any consideration is given to "training":
  1. Is our cat in good health? Peeing on the carpet could be due to a urinary tract infection (also see kidney disease), for example. If our cat is in good health, for sure, then the following should be checked:-
  2. Is our cat calm and comfortable? Are we doing something to stress our cat (e.g. out too much) such as create too much noise or shout at our cat (a definite no, no as the opposite, a quiet calm voice is so important).
  3. Is our home clean and if our cat has used the carpet then has that area been cleaned properly (if not our cat will associate the area as a litter tray)? The only way to clean urine is by using a special enzyme based cleaner such as Zero Odor. There are others.
  4. Is the litter in a quiet out of the way position?
  5. Is the tray large enough? The larger the better and a lid on it makes it quieter for the cat and keeps the litter in better. It also filters out some of the odor.
  6. Is the litter cleaned at least daily, perhaps even twice daily? Wood chipped litter keeps the tray cleaner, much cleaner.
  7. In a multiple cat household several litter trays are necessary. Is this the case?
If all these check off perfectly then it will be unusual, but training may be the answer. One way to train good litter box habits (a way that is known to work) is cat clicker training (positive reinforcement). That is pretty much it. Living with a cat is not complicated. We need to accept our cat, love our cat unconditionally and keep a clean house and all will normally be well.

OK enough serious stuff. Come on. Chill out Michael...:

Litter Box Habits to Home Page

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