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Nola's Notes
home : features : nola's notes
February 27, 2021

2/9/2021 3:22:00 PM
Litter Box Woes

Has your cat stopped using its litter box? Or just uses it for urination or defecation but not for both? Has Kitty decided a living room rug or chair is the new preferred choice? There are many reasons why Kitty may develop a relationship problem with the litter box. Frequency of litter box cleaning not up to its standards, multiple cats having territory wars over too few boxes, dislike of the litter material, hooded boxes, box location or a medical condition are possible issues.
Maybe you have been busy and haven’t kept up a regular and thorough litter box cleaning. The box should be scooped daily with new litter added. The box needs to be rinsed out with baking soda or unscented soap once a week. The depth of the litter in the box may be the issue. Cats usually prefer just one or two inches of litter, three inches or more may be too deep. Most cats prefer a larger box where they can move around a little. Some cats don’t like hooded litter boxes or boxes with a liner. Senior cats or those with physical limitations may find top-entry boxes or high-sided boxes inaccessible.
It’s all about the location. If you move the litter box to a different location, it may not appeal to your cat. Like dogs, cats can develop preferences for where they choose to eliminate and feel safe to do so. Kitty probably prefers to have the box located in a quiet spot, not in a high traffic area or a noisy area like the laundry room. However, avoid corners where it may feel trapped. Kitty likes to see people and other pets approaching and have escape routes if needed. If you have a multiple cat household, you should have a litter box for each cat and a spare to avoid litter box wars and overuse of one box. Consider, too, whether stress may be a factor if there is stress in the household as that stress may be felt by the cat and reflected in its behavior.
If you change brands or types of litter, you may find that your cat doesn’t like the new litter. Just like people, Kitty may have a preference for its bathroom product. Some cats prefer the litter used as a kitten. Most cats prefer clumping, unscented litter with a medium to fine texture. To rule out litter preference issues with type, texture or smell, try offering a few boxes with different litter selections and see if there is a preference.
If Kitty is spooked while using the litter box, she may develop a negative association with it. Warning: if Kitty goes elsewhere for her “business,” she may develop preference for the new location and surface, creating a chronic issue. Food and water bowls should not be placed close to litter box. Would you want to eat in your bathroom? One reason that a cat who has never experienced litter box issues before suddenly develops an issue is painful elimination. Kitty may enter the box and then quickly leave before using the box. Contact your vet to rule out a medical issue if this is a possibility. If you have a long-haired cat, try carefully clipping the fur on its rear end if you notice it gets soiled or matted during elimination. Matting can cause a pulling sensation while eliminating that can be painful and make a bathroom break a negative experience.
In fact, if you have an issue or questions, consulting your vet is a good idea. 

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