LITTER PANS are available in a
variety of styles and sizes. The "Feline
Pine Litter Box" or the "Tidy
Cat Breeze Litter System" are the two finest litter
boxes available. However, they both require the use of pellet
litter. If a hooded box is used, it is best to begin
with a simple basic pan without the hood. After the kitten
is completely comfortable in the new home and is reliable in his
litter box habits, the hood can be placed on the box, removing
it immediately if the kitten is experiencing any issues. I
have found that most cats do not like a hooded box.
The use of an automatic litter box has caused many a cat
to stop using the box. The noise associated with the
raking process, frightens many cats, not to mention the
potential dangers associated with their use. An automatic box
should always be backed up by an additional simple, standard
litter box, located in a different room. In my opinion,
the Cat Genie,
a self flushing litter box, is the only safe, acceptable
ten to twelve pound cat should have a litter pan
at least 18" long x 15" wide. If it is
a hooded pan it should be at least 17" high.
A larger cat must have the next larger size pan,
measuring at least 22" long x 17" wide. By
adoption time, kittens are using a full size standard pan.
A natural, biodegradable, non-scented product is preferred. Cats
have an aversion to the strong perfumes in scented litters. I
personally like the wood pellet litters, they are clean,
attractive to the cat and economical. Although clumping
litters are preferred by many care-takers, most of the clay
based litters are dusty, not healthy for the cat or the
environment. "World's Best" cat
litter is a corn based clumping
litter and the best choice in the clumping category.
a change in type of litter becomes necessary, remember that cats crave a
strict daily routine. Introduce new litter gradually.
The best method is to place one inch of the cat's familiar litter
over the top of
the new type. While using the litter box, the cat will
mix the two litters during the routine of scratching. Patience
is the key and a worthwhile effort to ensure a smooth
transition. Switching between brands of the same type of litter should
also be done with discretion.
NUMBER OF BOXES: One for each cat plus one
additional box. It is important that the boxes not be side by side.
Ideally, the additional boxes should be located in different areas of the
home as certain cats are possessive of their litter box.
Many times a passive cat will not use the box simply because a
more dominant cat does not allow it. Most often this
communication is not visible to humans as there can be an
"unspoken word" among cats. In a large or a
multi-level home, it is advisable to have a litter box on
each floor regardless of the number of cats. Providing the
cat(s) with several choices, will
further reduce the risk of inappropriate litter box behavior.
location, location! Place the litter pan in an
easily accessible area, but fairly private, and out of the
thoroughfare of people or dogs. Cats are personal beings and
like their privacy.
Avoid areas of LOUD
SUDDEN NOISE such as door chimes, loud TV etc. An unexpected
noise while in the litter box may cause the cat to find an area
that is more secluded.
In addition, never place the cat's litter box in the basement
or in the garage, even if the basement/garage is finished,
unless at least one additional box is provided in the home
Providing solely a basement/garage box almost always leads to litter
box issues which are usually impossible to correct by the owner, once the cats
habits have been ruined.
CHANGE OF LOCATION
should never be taken lightly. Cats are creatures of habit and
do not like changes. If it is necessary that the litter box be
moved, always place an additional box in the new location,
leaving the original in place. When the cat is faithfully
using the new location, the previous box can be removed and if
possible, prevent the cat from entering that room for at least a
week, preferably a month. This will help reinforce the new and
erase the previous habit at the same time
FOOD & WATER
should not be located in close proximity of the litter box. Cats
like to eat in a clean area and will find another spot to
eliminate if the litter box is too close.
CLEANLINESS: Most cats will avoid elimination areas
where there is risk of getting their paws dirty. It is VERY
important that the litter pan be kept clean.
If the pan is scooped at least once a day, preferably twice a day,
the cat will be more likely to use it. Both wet areas and solids
should be removed daily. Cats are fastidious animals and
may seek an alternate area if their box contains even one
Ideally, wash the litter pan once a week or at least every 2 weeks. Provide a complete change of fresh litter.
Use a mild, unscented soap, as cats have an acute sense of
smell. Lingering odors, even those which humans find pleasing
can be objectionable to cats and cause them to eliminate outside
of the litter box.
Even if there is only one cat, that cat will
appreciate having more than one litter pan. Over the years, I have
repeatedly witnessed various cats that use one box to urinate and
then rush to another box to defecate.
like bleach or Lysol can leave an objectionable
smell in the box and may cause problems. Use a simple detergent, like
Palmolive dishwashing liquid and rinse well,
removing all residue. Never use Lysol or any
product containing phenol to clean
any place where the cat has access.
& products containing phenol are toxic to cats,
even after a thorough rinse of the surface. Due
to the cat's limited ability to quickly clear toxic chemicals
from the body, repeated exposure to even minuscule amounts of
phenol, will result in an accumulation of toxin in the cat's
system which can cause the cat to have a seizure among other
few people have reported that the
use of bleach to clean the SINK or BATHTUB
seemed to attract the cat to use these areas for
a litter box. The behavior stopped when the use of
bleach was discontinued. It is important to
remember that like people, no two cats are alike.
What works for one may not work for another.
Apparently, the use of bleach can cause some cats
to adopt this practice because to some cats,
bleach smells like urine. If the cat starts this
behavior, immediately break the cycle by leaving
about 2 or 3 inches of water in the tub or basin
which will discourage the cat before it becomes a
A cat with a bladder infection or a urinary
problem such as crystals, often will seek cool areas, like tile, the bathtub or the
sink. Urination on a bed, couch or rug is also common. Be
alerted to a medical problem if numerous trips to
the litter box, crying while attempting to urinate,
excessive cleaning of the urogenital area or droplets of urine,
frequently but not always tinged with blood are noted and for
which immediate veterinary assistance should be sought.
Also important is that the cat not be punished or yelled at
for an err in litter box behavior. The cat that misses the
litter box is exhibiting stress, whether emotional or medical.
Missing the litter box is a symptom and a clue that the cat needs help. Punishment will be interpreted by the cat as owner
rejection and will serve only to further confuse the cat and exacerbate
whatever the issue. Cats
are not capable of spite even though it may appear that
Please don't stand over the cat with the scoop or allow a dog or
children to pester the cat while it is in the litter pan. The cat
could view this as harassment and may then eliminate wherever it can
If a young child, a dog
or a dominate cat is allowed to chase a more submissive cat,
even if it is only sometimes, this will cause the submissive cat
a great deal of stress and may cause litter box issues.
This does not apply of course to a cat that is obviously
enjoying the interaction. Such as, the dog will chase the cat to
one end of the house, then the cat will chase the dog to the
other end of the house.
WHEN A NEW CAT OR KITTEN IS ACQUIRED, the first week is
the most important time for reinforcing good litter box habits.
Most cats become anxious when they enter a new environment. The
stress causes them to hide, not eat, drink or use the litter
box. Depending on the level of stress, some can appear
aggressive and anti-social. All is very normal behavior for
the average cat or kitten when placed in unfamiliar
surroundings. A frightened cat will not seek out the litter box.
Confinement to a very small area
approximately the size of a master bathroom is an intelligent and kind
action on the part of the new
owner. Larger areas will delay the bonding and acclimation
process. The "safe" room should be
quiet. A television or radio will not create a tranquil atmosphere
for a cat due to the erratic mix of noise or music and will
actually causes the cat additional stress. Remember cats
are creatures of habit, they do not like change. Company
for a cat can be provided by playing low level, calming
classical music. Sitting with and talking to the cat or kitten,
allowing it to bond on its own terms will assist in a favorable
advancement. Gentle petting and short pick up sessions will also
help. These simple steps during the first week will ensure a non-eventful and successful
adjustment. Please note that kittens cannot be
confined by the use of a baby gate. They are quite capable and
will quickly climb over. When the cat or kitten is comfortable with
its room, is responding favorably to visits and is no longer
afraid, begin introduction to the home gradually. At
first, allow short visits out of the "safe" room and only under
strict supervision. When you are not home or cannot watch
closely, the cat or kitten should be returned to the room. A bit of
patience and gentle guidance will be time well spent.
while some of the above may seem trivial to human beings, rest
assured that each and every one of these tips are very
important to a cat. Granted, there are cats that tolerate any
litter box conditions. In spite of the stress that it puts
upon them, they will still use the litter box. However, those
hardy souls are few and far between.
elimination is the number one reason that cats are turned into
shelters. Most of those poor creatures are not bad cats. They
needed a toilet area that met their most basic needs. When one
wasn't provided, they did what their natural instincts told
them to do; find another location. As animals who want to be
clean, they had no choice.
As people, we do have choices. Mine was to write this article
for the sake of those cats whose lives end in a shelter for no
other reason than the absence of suitable toilet
accommodations. I hope those who read it will also make a
choice, will take a realistic look at their home environment and
lifestyle before deciding to share their lives with a cat. An
honest assessment of whether there is the space and time to
meet a cat's basic needs can make the most important
difference there can be for a cat. The difference between a
long, happy life in a loving home and a short, frightened one
in a shelter.
There is rarely a
litter box issue that is a cat issue. Please be considerate of
their needs. Give them a chance to live with you in
harmony. They want to be clean, please allow them to be.