Perhaps the only downside of having a cat is dealing with the cat’s litter box. We scoop it, refill it, and it seems we’re constantly fighting to get rid of odors. Then we have to keep litter from tracking all over the floor (and into our beds!) To make matters worse, if the cat’s litter box isn’t up to his standards, your feline friend may just stop using it altogether! Read on for 6 ways to improve your cat’s experience, and prevent behavioral problems associated with the litter box.
1. Scoop twice a day.
As cat parents, we’re lucky our feline friends will use a litter box. That said, a dirty litter box is the biggest reason that some cats will avoid using it. And really, can you blame them? Who wants to walk through dirty clumps of urine to find a clean spot to do their business? Get into the good habit of scooping your cat’s box twice a day to ensure he’s always got a clean, dry place to go.
You’ll also be able to more easily control odors by scooping the soiled litter often. And, scooping the box gives you the important opportunity to monitor your cat’s health by noticing changes in what your cat leaves in the litter box. Constipation, diarrhea, blood in urine, or changes in the amount of urine are all early indicators of possible health problems. By scooping regularly, you’ll have the advantage of early detection.
2. Don’t use a covered box.
Many cat parents prefer a covered litter box for multiple reasons – they hide your cat’s waste, they help control the amount of litter that gets scattered out of the box, and they keep odors inside the box. The last reason, however, is the main reason we don’t recommend a covered box for your cat! When you realize that a cat’s sense of smell is hundreds of times stronger than ours, it’s easy to understand why it’s a bad idea to trap odor inside the litter box! Additionally, cats don’t like to feel trapped, and covered boxes limit the ways they can escape the box if another animal approaches.
Do you need an alternative to a covered box that will still keep litter scatter to a minimum and hide the litter? Consider a high-sided open box instead. Or, get a large plastic storage box and cut an entrance into one side.
3. Completely dump and scrub the box monthly.
Some cat parents are really good about regularly scooping the litter, but don’t realize that all the litter needs to be completely replaced every month or so. Even if you’re using clumping litter, little pieces might break off and small bits of waste will remain behind when you scoop. Dr. Elsey, the veterinarian who created Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Litter, recommends completely dumping the box and washing with a mild detergent, like Ivory dish soap. Then add about 3 inches of new, fresh litter.
4. Use unscented litter.
Scented cat litters are very popular because of cat parents’ desire to control odors. That said, most cats dislike anything with a floral or citrus scent! So, while the scented litter might smell good to you – it could be downright nauseating for your cat. A heavily perfumed litter box may just drive your cat to do his business somewhere else. So, fill the box up with unscented cat litter.
5. Have a box for every cat.
Privacy and convenience are important to you – and to your cats! If you’ve got more than one feline friend, make sure they each have their own litter box. Put them in multiple areas of your home so that each cat can eliminate without having to cross paths with another kitty who might be more aggressive.
6. Replace the box every year.
While you might be fastidious about keeping your cat’s litter box clean, it is still going to eventually have to be replaced. Almost all litter boxes are made of plastic – which, either from your cat’s nails or from the litter scooper, will eventually have tiny scratches and grooves that are a breeding ground for bacteria. For that reason, replace the litter box with a new one every year.
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