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Renovation - Of The Litterbox

Posted by Harry Shubin on

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It might be time to renovate the bathroom…  


 No – your cat’s bathroom!

Do you know the number one reason that cats are turned into shelters?  It's not allergies...  no, it's "inappropriate elimination", better known as failure to use the litter box, aka, peeing on the living room carpet.  


"The box needs changing.  I left you a memo in front of the couch."

If you’ve done a little reading about litter box issues, you may know all the standard items to consider when having litter box problems...  check for urinary disease, have one more box than cats, keep the boxes scrupulously clean, place boxes in a quiet area (not under a frequently used staircase or next to the dryer, especially one with a buzzer, yikes!), no sudden changes in litter, sprinkle on special "Cat Attract" litter...  but one thing not often considered is litter box size.  And yes, size does matter.  Dr. Tony Buffington, a nationally known veterinarian, published an article concluding that a litter box should be one and a half cats long.  If the cat's box isn't longer than the cat, she may feel cramped and unwilling to use it.  Buffington says the cat should be able to enter the box and turn around, standing completely within the box without her head sticking outside.  The problem with that is, most commercial litter boxes are not that long, particularly if you have a large cat.  An internet search will turn up a few oversized boxes...



but there is another alternative, which is to simply purchase a plastic storage bin, and cut an opening in the side.  That will give a cat a deeper, longer box.  Be sure to use a transparent one, however, for just as cats dislike hooded boxes, they aren't fond of ones where they can't see who is coming. 

Veterinarian Dr. Michael Ray, in his article "A Couple of the Reasons I Have Peed on Your Stuff" tells us that we can learn a lot by watching our cats use thebox.   (You might have to do so surreptitiously... yes, they like to watch us but it's not reciprocal; cats are very private creatures!)  If Fluffy doesn't prepare the area by digging a hole, and stick around long enough to bury the evidence, then it's likely she doesn't like the choice of litter.  (Or, in a multiple cat household, someone is bothering her while she's about her business.)   Scented cat litters are for humans, many cats don't like them.  Declawed cats may not like clay litters which get in their paws. 

"House Soiling" - a new word for an old problem, is a recent attempt to decriminalize cats' failure to use the box, an attempt to get cat people to reorient their thinking - going outside the box may be appropriate - when the box itself is inappropriate.  Older cats may not like a box that requires jumping to get in, cats in multiple cat households may not like hooded boxes for fear of being ambushed, and even if there are multiple boxes - if they're all next to each other, to your cat - that's just one big litter box, which may not solve the problem.  

"Litter Box Guru" Dr. Tammy Sadek tells us that a cat does not have problems because it is a bad cat, or mad at his or her person, or because he is trying to make your life miserable (though that may well be the effect!) but does so because of a medical condition, or because something is just not right with the facilities.  

 House soiling is often solvable - when armed with the right information... and the right box!




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