Cats and litter box training – Part 6

Cats are very clean and have a natural instinct to eliminate to sand and soil. They instinctively feel the need to cover their feces. Kittens learn appropriate elimination techniques by watching their mother and start learning at about three to four weeks of age. Litter box issues, and elimination disorders, are the main reasons cats are given up to shelters so litter box success is important. Here are some steps you can take to insure success.

Household Introduction –

Once you have introduced your new cat to the household take her to the litter box and gently place her inside. Repeat this routine throughout the day. Once she uses the box leave her alone. Cats like their privacy when using the box.

Until you are sure your cat is using the box, confine them in a smaller area with access to the box. Do not allow them to find alternate places to eliminate.

Keep the cat away from houseplants. The dirt around the household can be hard to resist .

Multi-floor households should have at least one litter box available on each floor.

Litter Box –

A good rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat in the household, plus one. Some cats will not use a box that has been used by another cat. Some cats prefer to use one box for urination and one for defecation.

Consider purchasing your cat a new box which does not contain the smell of other household cats.

The box should be large enough for the cat to easily turn around.

Litter boxes should be easily accessible.

The box should be located in quiet area with little foot traffic. It should be placed away from the cat’s food and water supply. It should be easily accessible.

The litter box can be cleaned with a water and vinegar mixture.

Litter –

There are many types of litter currently available. Many cats prefer unscented litter with a sandy texture. However, there are versions which come in pellets, and other textures, which can be successfully used.

If you cat has been re-homed to your household, try to start the cat off with the type of litter used in their previous environment.

Switch them over slowly to the type preferred in your household. Mix “old” type of litter in with the “new”. Slowly increasing the percentage of “new” to “old”.

Avoid clumping litter which uses sodium bentonite. It can cause intestinal issues if ingested.

Litter should be scooped daily and the full box of litter should be switched to fresh litter at least once a week.

Mistakes –

Determine the reason your cat chose to eliminate outside of the box. Is the box clean enough? Cats can be very fussy about the cleanliness of the box. Did they have access to the box? Is the environment quiet? Has something changed?

Clean any mistakes immediately with an enzymatic cleaner designed to work with cat urine and odor. If spots are not thoroughly cleaned your cat may return to the spot for future elimination.

Do not punish a cat for not eliminating in the box. Instead show them the box and praise profusely when used.

If accidents continue, this could be a sign of a urinary tract disease or intestinal parasites and they should see a veterinarian.

Offer your cat a calm, clean and quiet environment for their litter box. Once settled into a successful litter box set up do not make any unnecessary changes. If mistakes are made, take a look at the litter box from a cat’s point of view and make any appropriate changes or consider a visit to the veterinarian.

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