Anytime your cat is peeing outside the litter box, always evaluate the litter box. The design and management of the cat litter box is crucial to encouraging your cat proper elimination habits. This week Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss how to design a flawless litter box!
There are four factors to consider when evaluating the cat litter box:
Number: It’s important to make sure you have the proper number of litter boxes in your home. The general rule of thumb is to have one litter box for each cat, plus one additional box. Every box should be in a separate location. A cat considers multiple litter boxes in the same room as one giant litter box. Cats in the same social group will share litter boxes, food and water bowls and resting areas. If cats do not get along well and are not in the same social group, then guarding of these resources can cause feline house soiling.[Tweet “one litter box for each cat, plus one additional box. “]
Locations: Avoid placing food and water bowls close to litter boxes. Place litter boxes in a quiet place with light foot traffic. Avoid, placing a litter box in any area where a cat could be cornered, blocked from entering or unable to flee. In a multi-level home, place a cat litter box on each level. Place an additional litter box in the area where your cat is soiling in the house.
Size: Litter boxes should be 1.5 times the length of your cat from the nose to the base of the tail. Bigger is always better! The average litter boxes available for purchase are typically too small so you may need to construct one yourself out of storage containers or concrete mixing trays. The great thing about storage boxes is they have high sides which allow the cat to scratch around in the litter without getting it all over the room. Since the sides are high, a cover is not necessary, which helps with odor control from the cat’s perspective. Make sure to cut down one side low enough for easy entry, especially for senior cats. Inspect the cut edges and cover with duct tape to prevent trauma from sharp edges.
Litter: Most cats prefer unscented,clumping litter because it is most similar to soil. If your cat is urinating right outside the box or standing on the edge of the box to urinate, this may be a sign it doesn’t like the litter. Avoid scented litter, litter deodorizers, litter box liners and cleaning with strong chemicals, especially ammonia-based products. To determine what litter your cat prefers: provide multiple boxes with different kinds of litter at variable depths. Cat litter boxes should be scooped daily and the entire litter box should be washed with warm soapy water every 1-4 weeks.
Stay tuned next week: Cat pee 104: How to stop cat spraying
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