The Cat Litter Box

The following will help maximize good litter box habits and make the litter box experience a good one for both you and your cat.

General Tips

  • One litter box per cat is recommended.
  • Scoop the litter box every day. After all, you wouldn’t want to use a dirty toilet either!
  • Wash litter pans regularly with mild soap; rinse and dry.
  • Do not switch brands or types of litter suddenly. Do so gradually by slowly mixing the old with the new.
  • Do not underfill or overfill litter boxes. If there is not enough litter in the box to adequately cover waste, cats may develop an aversion to the box. A good depth of litter also prevents urine and feces from sticking to the bottom of the box.
  • Open litter boxes are best. Hooded or enclosed boxes may make cats feel trapped. They also trap in odours.

Placement and Location

  • Always locate the litter box away from the cat’s food and water dishes.
  • If you have a new cat settling in, place a litter box on every level of your home. It must be convenient and accessible.
  • Always locate a litter boxes in a quiet secluded place. Do not place litter boxes in high traffic areas or near noisy appliances such as washing machines and dryers.
  • Do not change the location of a litter box abruptly. Do it in stages.
  • If your cat is nervous or older, you may need to place the litter pan closer to the area in your house where the cat likes to sleep or eat.

Multi-Cat Families

  • Multi-cat families have a hierarchical nature with “lower ranking” and “higher ranking” cats. In order to accommodate the different personalities, you should have multiple litter box locations so your lower ranking cats do not have to enter the territory of a more dominant cat.
  • Remember: different cats prefer different types of litter. This means that in multi-cat families, you may have to provide a couple options.

Troubleshooting Litter Box Problems and Spraying Behaviour

  • If your cat is having problems using the litter box, praise your cat and/or give the cat a treat when it uses the litter box appropriately.
  • Soft, fluffy bedding such as quilts and duvets may be an attractive alternative to the litter box in the early weeks of settling in for a new cat. Scattered dirty laundry or laundry piles may also invite your cat to urinate/eliminate inappropriately. Remove and store these items or prevent access. Remember, new cats may be nervous or unfamiliar with their surroundings and kittens may simply forget the location or not have the bladder and/or bowel control to make it to the box.
  • Soil at the base of potted plants can also look very inviting to cats. Cover the base with tinfoil or get rid of the plants if this becomes a problem.
  • Strangers, babies, guests, new roommates, sudden schedule changes or other changes in the household may cause stress and therefore, inappropriate urination/elimination.
  • New animals such as puppies/dogs, other cats, birds or any other species may cause territorial marking. Even the sight of another cat through a window may cause spraying.
  • Previously sprayed/marked furniture can also attract new cats to spray (and leave their mark). The smell often remains for years. Consult a pet supply centre for effective cleaning products.
  • Illnesses and health conditions such as urinary tract infections may also lead to inappropriate bathroom habits. Please consult your veterinarian immediately.

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