Monday 29 January 2024

Litter box problems: the big why. Three categories.

Litter box problems are very common cat ownership problems and even more commonly written about on the Internet! It's got quite tiresome reading about them but I would like to very briefly mention the three categories which describe the reasons for inappropriate elimination i.e. litter box problems. 

This is a discussion article using Galaxy's book Total Cat Mojo as a source.

There are three primary umbrella categories and they are. As mentioned, I am referring to Jackson Galaxy's writings of which I have been critical sometimes. Unless I am misunderstanding him which would be entirely possible as his writing is impenetrable sometimes. 😢 Sorry. He is a great guy though. I just don't like his books.

Territorial stress: Jackson Galaxy says that one cause of litter box problems is territorial stress. He appears to be talking about the establishment and retention of a home range by domestic cat which is instinctive to the cat. And if their home range is invaded they might mark their territory at the extremities of the territory to tell invaders to stay away. But I don't think this is anything to do with inappropriate elimination i.e. peeing in litter box. Spraying urine on vertical surfaces is not about eliminating urine from the system. It's about sending a message to other cats. Although it might look like inappropriate elimination it isn't.

But Jackson does go on to say that when domestic cats are able to fully express their behaviours, in Jackson Galaxy language "the cats have total cat mojo", and they are unable to express their mojo because of territorial stress then they might urinate but this form of peeing will I believe be spraying rather than elimination. Perhaps the means that stress per se can disrupt the used of the litter tray. Certainly in multi-cat homes there is a great chance that the cat will be stressed because of territorial issues.

Mr Galaxy says that "If the mojo is missing, there will be pissing."

These threats within the territory might come from within the territory or outside the territory. If it outside the territory it will be an invasion which might shrink the territory. If it comes from within the home range i.e. territory it might be due to broken or non-existent relationships or changes within the "rhythm of the territory or the territory itself will threaten the mojo balance". This is typical Galaxy language which is almost impenetrable. But I think he means that there will be a limited hierarchy in multi-cat homes which should be in balance. If not it can stress cats.

Litter box aversion: this applies to cats that don't want to use a litter box for a number of reasons. It applies to using any place within the home other than the litter box to urinate and defecate. It may be due to declawing which makes their paws sore. It might be due to the substrate i.e. the material in the litter box. It might be to do with the size of litter box being too small. Litter box might be covered and this might upset the cat. Or it might be in the wrong place (too exposed). 

And it may be because other cats are using the litter box i.e. it's shared which is not a good idea. And there might be challenges from one cat to another to use the litter box which might cause litter box aversion. Sometimes in multi-cat homes, one cat bars other cats from using a single litter box or getting at food et cetera. It's a form of domination.

Medical issues: this overlaps with the above. In the words of Jackson Galaxy, "There can be a number of physical maladies that trigger eliminating outside the litter box. Left untreated, many of these can lead to, or serve as an indication of more serious health risks." He recommends a visit to a veterinarian without fail at the first sign of any litter box issues.

Declawing as mentioned comes to mind. Cystitis due to stress causes peeing on carpets and in baths. It is a bacterial infection of the bladder. It can be due to separation anxiety.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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