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Litter Box Problems and How to Solve Them

 by petbucket on 24 Mar 2016 |
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If you’re frustrated with a cat that has taken to thinking outside the box when it comes to kitty litter, you’re not alone: At least 10 percent of cats develop an elimination problem at one point during their lives. Once your cat cultivates an aversion to his litter box, it can become a chronic issue. What’s worse, his new favorite place to do his business could be your living room carpet or prized sofa. If kitty’s gone AWOL when it comes to his litter box, the first step toward solving the problem is finding its underlying cause.
If your cat is uncomfortable with his litter box or can’t easily get in, chances are he’ll avoid it altogether. Make sure his litter box is cleaned thoroughly once a day and that the litter isn’t too deep— just one or two inches is enough. Cats prefer larger boxes, so make sure your feline friend isn’t feeling cramped by choosing a litter box roughly one-and-a-half times the size of the cat using it. Your cat may avoid his litter box because he doesn’t like the type of litter you’re using, so try switching to a clumping, unscented litter or the litter your cat used as a kitten. Most cats are averse to covered boxes and kittens and older cats with arthritis find it hard to climb in and out of high-sided boxes, so keep these factors in mind when choosing a litter box.
Another common issue is the litter box-to-cats ratio in multi-cat households. Be sure to provide one box per cat, plus one extra. Location can also cause major litter box woes, as cats that can’t easily get into their boxes or don’t feel safe there might forgo them altogether. Make sure the box is in in a quiet, but not cornered location so kitty can see other pets or people approaching and plan an easy escape route. If your cat has an aversion to a self-cleaning litter box, trying a more traditional box might do the trick.
The best way to curb litter box problems is to prevent them from the outset, so make your cat’s litter box as appealing as possible by following the guidelines above. If your cat’s already eliminating outside his box, try placing the litter box in his preferred spot and slowly inching it back to the desired location over time. You can also deter your cat from using inappropriate elimination surfaces by making them less appealing— by placing your cat’s food bowl there or using upside-down carpet runners, tin foil or double-sided tape in the area where your cat has eliminated in the past, for example. Pay attention to your cat’s behavior so you can catch any problems before they become bad habits. If in doubt, seek your veterinarian’s guidance, as some litter box issues can be caused by serious medical conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones or feline interstitial cystitis.


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