Sunday 29 May 2011

Cat Inappropriate Elimination - Whose Problem?

We cause cat inappropriate elimination. Therefore, it is our problem. It is not a "cat behavior problem" but a human-to-cat relationship problem. In the wild,  the small wildcat will defecate and urinate in certain areas on the ground, on the earth. Sometimes these areas are used as markers to tell other cats of their presence - the feces remain uncovered. Cat spraying is not inappropriate elimination as the purpose of cat spraying is to give signals to other animals of the presence of the cat. The purpose is not to eliminate the urine.

The domestic cat is required by us to defecate and urinate on cat litter in a tray inside a house or some other human structure. From the cat's perspective the litter will usually be a nice place to go to the toilet because litter replicates earth. In the old days, before litter was invented, sand was used. This is why cats don't usually need training to use cat litter.

However, from the cat's perspective litter might not be a nice place to go to the toilet. The cat might prefer somewhere else. If the cat is a full-time indoor cat the only other place is somewhere that is inappropriate for us not the cat. We have the problem. From our perspective this is our problem. From the cat's perspective this is not a problem except that he or she can't find a decent alternative to litter inside a house.

If the cat is an indoor/outdoor cat he or she would almost certainly go outside and use the earth outside as an alternative to cat litter. Earth is actually better than litter as it is softer and exactly the kind of substance a cat would use in the wild.

So when a cat does not wish to use the litter box the problem is ours as we created it in the first place. The cat is simply acting naturally and reacting to the circumstances that exist before him or her.

This argument applies even if the cat is not using the litter due to anxiety, for example. The reason is unimportant. One well known reason for a cat's avoidance of litter is because it is uncomfortable to a declawed cat. This is a double human problem, one compounding the other.

The reason why I am writing this is because I sense that throughout all the many thousands of articles on inappropriate elimination on the internet and in books, the problem is perceived as belonging with the cat. The cat is seen to be at fault. He or she needs to be punished etc. for this "bad behavior".

Wrong, obviously.  Sometimes, there is a terribly arrogant approach to cat caretaking and so called "experts" are often the most guilty. The cat behaviorists - a trendy new occupation - are in fact "human behaviorists" as all their work concerns changing the behavior and habits of people!

Think on...

Related articles:

Avoiding cat behavior problems

Stopping inappropriate elimination

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