The Litter Box

You, Your Cat, and the Litter Box


A cat is one of nature’s self-cleaning pets – almost.  They will need a litter box to “do their duty” or your indoor plants and any other cat-attractive alternatives may well become their in-house out-house.  This usually leads to an eviction notice.

While most of us know about litter boxes, we need to understand the cat’s view.  The combined effort is well worth the time.

The first of a cat’s highest concerns will be the texture of the litter.  It should be sand-like or loose, soft gravel that is easy for them to dig and move around, and most commercial litter has an acceptable texture.  Natural soil from outside may be acceptable to the cat (maybe not), but can prove a little messy when the cat finishes and tracks mud across your kitchen counter.  Check with your vet or the label of the litter to see if it is safe for young kittens.

Their second concern, in which humans will readily concur, is the smell.  If you walk close to the litter box and get an instant ammonia headache, the cat is already looking for new happy dumping grounds.  A spray of “Oust” may solve, for a short time, your discomfort, but the cat will not be impressed.

Cats, like humans, can be particular about public restroom’s and may find it offensive if made to powder their noses in the same area just vacated by another cat.  More than one location is preferred, but if you have a zillion cats it won’t be practical, especially if they are all indoor cats.  You may find yourself spending much of your day cleaning the litter boxes.

Don’t you just hate it when you’re being bothered when attending to business?  Well, so do cats.  Locate their comfort station away from noisy places or places that can be invaded by other 2 or 4 legged creatures.  Some dogs enjoy helping you clean the litter box, and a crawling, inquisitive toddler can discover the “sandbox”.

Humans seldom eat while in the John, and cats feel the same way.  Don’t locate their feeding area near their litter box.

Just like us, cats do not accept change very well.  Once you get a location and brand of litter, stay with it.

If your cat begins to find other places to go there are several reasons that could explain its actions:

  • Stress — new additions to the family – pets/children, new surroundings, turmoil, new noises, change to the normal routine, etc. They may be marking a territory or just plain hissed off.  Give your cat a chance to adjust.
  • Medical problems, especially urinary tract problems — get the cat to the vets for a check up
  • Dirty litter box — should be cleaned at least daily
  • Location, location, location — experiment to find the best location for the cat, and YOU
  • Perfumed litter is usually not something a cat will enjoy.  Plus, its hard to get them to tell you their favorite scent and you probably wouldn’t like it if they did.

If you see your cat actively pursuing an alternate to its litter box try and break its rhythm and return it to the litter box.  Do not punish the cat because you’ll just increase its stress that it may then associate with the litter box.  Investigate for other reasons and correct any problems.

The favored litter box appears to be uncovered and at least 22″ x 16″.  Use clumping litter for easier clean-up but be careful with younger kittens who may ingest it.  No sprays or perfumes, and in its own secluded, private place.

This article is based on an article received from The Ageless Cat – no longer active on the Internet.