Kitty Litter Box 101

How many of you feel challenged by your kitty’s litter box?  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the choices of litter, the types of litter boxes on the market, and even the daily maintenance of the litter box.

To ensure your cat uses the litter box consistently, it’s essential to follow a few rules and keep kitty happy:

Choose the correct size: Depending upon whether you are raising a kitten or have a full grown cat, size does matter.  Can your cat easily step inside the box?  Can he move around freely and dig without knocking too much excess litter out of the box?  Choices abound with regard to size and shape, covered or open, so choose appropriately depending upon your cat’s age, size and weight.

Litter Box 101

The size of the litter box, type of litter, and location of the box does matter to your cat. Sift the litter daily.

Choose the correct litter:  Some cats are more particular than others about the type of litter they prefer.  Ideally, choose a brand that does not have a strong fragrance, as cats are very sensitive to odors.  Litter comes in different textures, and your cat may have a preference.  You may have to experiment with one or two brands to find a suitable match for yourself and kitty.

Choose the correct location: Place the litter box in an area easily accessible for your cat, yet out of the way from too much human traffic.  Make sure your cat has some privacy, but don’t place it so remotely that it is hard for cat to get to, such as the far corner of the basement.

Keep the litter box clean:  The biggest reason your cat may shun his litter box is that it’s simply dirty.  It’s important to understand that cats are super clean animals and need their litter boxes sifted through daily, if not twice a day.  The cleaner you keep the litter box on a daily basis, the longer you can wait in between completely changing all the litter. For example: one cat and one litter box – sift litter daily, and completely change out weekly.  For the same cat, same box – sift twice daily.  You may be able to extend litter life to 10-14 days.  If there is more than one cat in the household, it’s a good idea to set up at least one litter box per cat, plus one box, if you are only scooping once daily. Cleanliness is next to Godliness in a cat’s world, and clean litter boxes definitely helps avoid concentrating crystals or cats developing litter box aversions. You cannot sift through their boxes too much.

If you have followed all the above suggestions, and your cat suddenly starts urinating or defecating outside of the litter box, this is reason to call your veterinarian.  There are several health-related issues that might be at the root of your cat’s behavior, and a health exam is in order.

Now that we’ve covered the Litter Box 101 essentials, just for fun, take this Litter Box Quiz by PetsWebMD and see how you score.  Kitty will thank you for your efforts.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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