Litter Boxes: Think Like a Cat

Dr. Alice TorielloPet BehaviorLeave a Comment

Here’s the Scoop on Litter Boxes:

In order to help your cat make good choices about where to go to the bathroom, you need to put bathrooms where they are the most useful.  Litter boxes need to be placed where the cats are most likely to use them.  These tips will help you put them where they need to go.

  1. Cats don’t like to be confined.  In general, cats do not respond well when backed into a small area or forced to do anything they don’t want to do. Litter box Translation: Large uncovered litter boxes are usually preferred.  Under-bed storage boxes are usually kitty favorites.
    Litter Boxes

    Simple is better when it comes to litter box design

  2. Cats share with their friends, sometimes.  Sharing a bed or toy with a housemate is one thing, but litter boxes are a different story.  If there are 3 cats in a home and two litter boxes, you are just looking for trouble. Litter box Translation: The number of cats in the home plus one is the correct number of boxes.  They should all be on different levels of the house and/or in different rooms.
  3. Cats are very very clean.  Cats spend nearly 1/3 of their waking hours grooming themselves.  They certainly do not appreciate a dirty box. Litter box Translation: Cats are more likely to use a litter box if it is scooped out twice per day and has a full litter change at least once per week.
  4. Cats want what they want.  They  have reputation for being particular. Litter box Translation: Preferences for type of litter and even depth of litter are developed early on and can stay with a cat for it’s lifetime.  Usually, clumping, unscented litter is preferred.  You can figure out which type of litter your cat likes best by providing two boxes side by side, one with the current litter and one with new litter.
  5. Cats don’t like change.  Have you ever had your cat simply turn up it’s nose at a new food, scratching pad, or pet bed?  If you have, you are in the vast majority.  Cats are very selective about many things.  To you, re-arranging the location of the litter box might not be a big deal, but to your cat this can be a life shattering event. Litter box Translation: Try to avoid moving the box around.
  6. Cats don’t like loud noises.  A loud bang or clang can send your feline friend flying. Litter box Translation: Avoid putting litter boxes near the furnace, dryer, or other appliances that might randomly click on and scare your cat while “in the act”. This can create aversion to using the box since they are afraid the noise will happen again.

Alice Toriello, DVM is a 2007 Graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, OVMA, and AVMA.  She is the owner and veterinarian at MetroPet Veterinary Clinic, in Berea, Ohio.  Dr. Alice lives with her husband, two sons, and two dogs (Gidget and Penny Lane).  She also owns three very particular feline friends (Snapple, Liberty, and Princess Buttercup) who live at the veterinary clinic.

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