The last few weeks, I’ve seen several cases of inappropriate elimination in cats. Spraying or avoiding the litter box is the number one sited reason cats are surrendered to animal shelters. Hopefully, the knowledge you gain from this article can reduce the chance of litter box problems.
The most common reason a cat will use the bathroom outside of its litter box is that it’s not clean. Let’s face it- when we go to a public restroom and find a dirty toilet, we go to the next stall; if it stinks, we will find another bathroom somewhere else. Why do you think it’s any different for your cat?
How to prevent inappropriate elimination in cats:
- Use unscented litter.
- Scoop the litter box every day
- Clean the litter box once a week with mild soap and water
- Don’t use ammonia or citrus scents
- If the box begins to smell like urine, use an odor neutralizer or replace the box with a new one.
The number of litter boxes needed depends on the number of cats in your household. The general rule of thumb to follow is the number of cats you have in your household plus one (example: 2 cats = 3 litter boxes). I would also recommend providing different types of litter box and varying the size of each of the boxes. We have similar choices: home vs. public restroom, inside vs. outside, and handicap vs. regular stall. It’s nice to have a choice.
If you have inappropriate elimination in cats and you have tried the above suggestions, your cat may have a medical or behavioral condition. Contact your veterinarian for an exam and diagnostics in order to resolve the issue early. Never punish your cat for going outside the litter box, as this may cause other behavioral problems. Some individuals think the cat is trying to be vindictive, when in fact, there is a legitimate reason why the cat is not using the litter box. Try thinking about the problem from your cat’s point of view. Ask yourself if you were presented with the same problem, what would you do?
Do your neighbors complain about your dog making noise when you aren’t home? Do you have a dog who tries to dig under or climb over your fence? Do you come home to a dog who has chewed up furniture, scattered the contents of your garbage can, or shredded his bed? A variety of different reasons can cause these issues, but the most common one is simply boredom. So today, I’ll give you some ideas to help enrichment for dogs to help them become healthier, happier members of your household.
As we humans go about our daily lives, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that our dogs’ worlds are much smaller than ours which is why it is important to provide enrichment for dogs. While we travel to jobs, meetings, and outings, our dogs are routinely left home. Even with a yard to roam in or toys to play with, our dogs will eventually become bored. After all, dogs are intelligent, energetic creatures. If we don’t find a way to occupy their minds and exercise their bodies, they’ll come up with their own ways of entertaining themselves, and no matter how hard I’ve hoped, my dogs have never blown off some steam by doing the dishes or vacuuming the house.
Instead, bored dogs are more likely to be destructive, noisy, or take off looking for something fun to do outside of their normal stomping grounds. This can lead not just to messes or annoyance but can also be dangerous for our dogs.
Five ideas for enrichment for dogs:
- Spend Time With Them
Your dog craves attention. While we can’t always be home with them, make sure to interact with your dog when you’re around. Talk to them, give belly rubs and ear scratches, snuggle on the couch or the floor. Just let them know you’re paying attention.
- Play A Game
Some dogs enjoy a game of fetch. Others love tug-o-war. I have one dog who loves to play soccer—I kick the ball, and she runs the length of the yard to chase it down and nose it back to me. Another of my pups loves to play with his flirt pole (it’s like a cat wand toy, but bigger and sturdier). Find the game your dog loves best and try to spend at least a few minutes a day playing with them. It’ll help get rid of some of their energy, and it feels good when we humans play, too.
- Teach Them Something New, Practice Something Old
Learning a new trick or an obedience cue is a great way to engage your dog’s mind and body. By using positive reinforcement methods, you’ll also strengthen the bond between you and your dog. If your best bud already knows a bunch of stuff, spend some time asking her to show off for you and rewarding her for getting it right.
- Invest In Durable Toys and Food Puzzles
When you must be gone, make sure your dog has something to do with herself while you’re away. Durable chew toys like Nylabones and Kong toys are a great way to give your pet a way to kill some time without killing your furniture. Food puzzles are another great way to provide mental stimulation—just make sure they don’t have small, breakable pieces that your dog might ingest if left unattended.
- Give Them Some Screen Time
Sometimes, just leaving a tv on for your dog can be a help. I’ve found that PBS Kids is a big hit with my dog Opus. He likes the silly voices and cartoons seem to be engaging to him. He’ll sit in front of the TV, watching Daniel Tiger until he falls asleep. The sound of the TV can also cover outside noises that may cause some dogs to react with barking or destructive behavior.
No, not me personally but I hear this a LOT more than you would think! To the people who say that at best their cat is indifferent to them or at worst plain hates them I say this; don’t take it personally but you are probably doing something wrong.Continue…
This week, I saw a video on Facebook of a rooster being “hypnotized” by a line drawn in the dirt close to his beak. It caused him to become completely immobile–but when the line was erased, the rooster immediately attacked the closest person, then ran away to the other side of the yard. My first reaction was to laugh. Honestly, seeing videos of grown men being flogged by an angry rooster is hilarious. After watching the video for a second time though, I realized something. The rooster wasn’t hypnotized. He was terrified. In one seemingly-funny video, I saw that rooster exhibit all three common responses to fear of a threat: freeze, fight, and flight. First, he was completely still. Because the perceived threat was very close to him, he essentially “played dead”. Once the threat was removed enough for him to feel like he had a fighting chance of survival, that’s just what he did—he attacked what he viewed as the source of danger. Then, he ran for safety.Continue…
I recently posted a question on my personal Facebook account. I asked dog owners to comment on what they wished they could change about their dog’s behavior. The answers I got covered almost every area of common dog problems you could imagine. Continue…
What is the attraction between cats and kitchen counters? No matter how many times we tell them no, they insist we said yes. We tell them to get down; they come back up. If you constantly battle with your cats and kitchen counters, the first thing you need to do is understand why they are up there, and it may not be why you think. Continue…
January is Train Your Dog Month and Walk Your Dog Month! Even though that may sound like a bit much to fit all into one month, you can combine both activities to make each more fun than they would be on their own. I’ve decided to combine the two for myself and my dogs by putting a twist on the idea of a “fitness trail.” I’m going to add “obedience stations” to my usual dog-walking route. That way, my dog gets mental exercise along with our usual physical exercise. Continue…
I’ve seen several clients lately that are having problems with feline play aggression with their young kittens. Feline play aggression can be a serious problem that destroys the human-animal bond and can lead to relinquishment later.
Here at Guthrie Pet Hospital, most folks are aware that we have two clinic cats—Sylvie and Felicia. Some people don’t know that there’s one other animal member of our clinic family. His name is Dante, and he’s a twenty-year-old Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot. Our clients are used to hearing him scream “hello,” “okay,” and “bye” as they move through the hospital. If you’ve ever met him, you’ve also probably been warned to keep your distance from his cage. You see, like many birds, Dante can be less than friendly with people he doesn’t know and trust. He’s also not opposed to biting people who get too close to his cage without his permission. This includes those of us who work at Guthrie Pet Hospital. Continue…
Last month my husband and I went on an RV trip to Natural Falls State Park. We invited friends along and decided there wasn’t enough room to take one of the dogs. About thirty minutes after getting set up a grey and white long hair cat come up to our campsite. She was very friendly and stayed around the entire weekend. There were no homes in the area, and she had no collar or identification, so we decided to bring her back to Guthrie. This week I will discuss introducing a new cat to your household. Continue…