Litter Box and Management Issues
In this series of blogs, we will look at the causes resulting in your cat missing the litter box as it relates to the management of the litter box itself.
This second group of reasons cats miss the litter box includes the box, the type of litter used, and location of the box as well as how clean you keep the box. Cats when using the bathroom want to scratch and cover their feces and urine. What would your cat use if he were in the outdoors? He would look for a soft, easy-to-dig material such as garden soil. He would look for a place with lots of room and find a spot, dig, squat, turn, and cover. The next time he needed to go, he would have a clean spot to use each time. THINK LIKE A CAT!
Probably the most common reason for cats to miss the litter box is a result of a dirty and unclean litter box. The cat avoids using it because it is like a dirty, smelly restroom. We all have had the experience of traveling and using a public restroom that was so smelly and dirty that you held your nose and tried not to touch anything. It is the same for your cat and worse yet, he has to step in it! Cats prefer to have a fresh clean spot they can use the bathroom in. Keep your cat’s litter box and it will prevent him from thinking outside the box! If there are multiple cats using the same litter box, then more than one cleaning a day may be needed. Also cats have different temperaments; some cats expect the litter box to be cleaned after each use while others may not be so picky.
If you use regular litter that does not clump, that litter will need to be changed out regularly as the urine is not removed and just saturates in the existing litter.
The litter box along with any covering should be large enough for your cat to maneuver and turn in. If you have multiple cats and a cover is used, there is only one entry in and out. If one is using the litter box and another cat is trying to enter, you are going to have privacy issues. In other instances, you may have an older arthritic cat that may have a hard time getting into the litter box if the sides and the entrance are fairly high. As we all know, cats like to shovel litter around which sometimes leads to a lot of litter on the floor. It is best to sweep any litter off the floor when found; your cat sees no difference between that pile of litter and what is in the litter box, so you don’t want to start any bad habits.
Cats also have preferences for the type of litter they use. Good clump litter is good because most all traces of the urine clump and are scooped out. Crystal litter is an amazing odor remover, but some cats do not like this litter because it may pop or fizz with contact to urine. Pine nugget litter tends to give off a strong pine smell your cat may not like. Experiment, but studies show 9 out 10 cats prefer a good clump litter.
Finally, the location of the litter box is important. As a general rule, the litter box should not be placed too far away from your cat’s resting area. Also, litter boxes located next to furnaces, washing machines, dryers, or toilets can make your cat apprehensive about using the box. Watch most cats when a toilet is flushed and most will run away.
A final tip, and this one is for the owners! If you use clump litter, it would be wise to invest in buying some dust masks. Think of how many times you clean that litter box and breath in that toxic dust.