pen rainbow

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Outsmarting Cats

Cats 101: The Litterbox

We love our kitties, and they love us, so why don't they use the litter box 100 percent of the time?  It's not because they want to be hurled outside like a cat rocket.  One should never hurl a kitty under any circumstances.

Besides, cats do not find their eu-de-kitty offensive.  To them, it's just part of their regular routine.  Wake up, stretch, eat, drink, visit the cat box, groom, eat /drink again, roll around on catnip toys, stare at squirrels, nap, wake up, another trip to the cat box, snack, drink, play, sit on owner's lap, take a nap, etc.  It's really our responsibility as educated cat owners to decode a cat's behavior, especially when it comes to peeing outside of the litter box.

I consider myself an amateur expert on this topic because I've had cats all of my life.  I've spent a lot of time cleaning up after the little beasties!  The real expertise, though, comes from our cat sitter extraordinaire, Jennifer.  Jennifer was the one who told us to use aluminum foil to discourage cat activity, and she was right!  The shiny texture and the crinkly sound of aluminum foil is to cats what fingernails on a chalkboard are to humans.  In particular, it is the sensation of walking on foil that they don't like.  I've discovered that hanging foil does not have the same effect as laying foil on the floor.  To our persistent orange tabby, Tigg, a strip of foil taped to the bottom of the bathroom door is just another vertical surface to squirt.

To really solve the problem of a cat who keeps peeing all over the house, you really have to get to the cause.  The next time you find yourself thinking about mailing your cat to Abu Dhabi, consider these tips from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine ©2002:

Helpful hints for preventing litter box problems

Choose an appropriate litter and box
  • Most cats prefer unscented, finer-textured litter, at a depth of one to two inches.
  • Young kittens, elderly cats, and cats with mobility problems need boxes with low sides.
  • Overweight and large cats need bigger boxes.
  • Most cats prefer an uncovered box that lets odors escape and allows a 360-degree view of their surroundings.
  • Have as many litter boxes as cats in the house-plus one.

Choose a good litter box location
  • Most cats prefer a location that is quiet, private, separate from their feeding area, and easily accessible 24 hours a day.
  • Do not locate the litter box up or down stairs if your cat has trouble climbing.
  • Place multiple boxes in different areas of the house.

Keep the box clean
  • If you use clumping litter, remove feces and clumps daily and add clean litter as needed.
  • A liner may help keep the box cleaner, but many cats don't like them. 
  • To clean the box, scrub it with a gentle detergent, dry it, and refill with clean litter. Litter should be changed often enough so that it looks and smells dry and clean. The more cats using the box, the more often this will need to be done. 
  • Replace old boxes that smell or are cracked.