Adopting a new kitten is a big decision, and requires more preparation and responsibility than you may think. Potential owners may find themselves overwhelmed with all kinds of problems. The most common problem that new kitten owners have to deal with is issues with the litter box! This is an important concern, that will be discussed right here, in part three of the kitten behaviour series!
How do I deal with litter box issues?
As technology has improved, so has our desire to have kittens as pets. Why? The litter box has become more improved and efficient than ever, of course! At one time, the smell of a litter box could ruin the ambience of a room, making it an unpleasant addition to your home. Now, litter box fillers are more absorbent than ever, and it isn’t hard to help mask the smell.
When first choosing a litter box, it is less the box that needs to be decided on, but rather the contents of the box. Among many options, the most popular ones are clay fillers, and clumping fillers. Clay fillers are the least expensive option in terms of price per pound, but will need to be replaced weekly in entirety. Clumping fillers will dissolve around the moisture in urine and feces, becoming somewhat of a lump encasing the elimination. You can then easily scoop or sift out these sections, and replacing the litter in entirety will not need to happen nearly as frequently.
Remember that choosing the right litter is not just about your preference, but your kitten’s preference as well! If your kitten lays their waste anywhere BUT the litter box–it could be because of the filler! So shop around, and try different ones.
That said, there are MANY reasons why your kitten may not be using the litter box. Unfortunately, this becomes a huge problem for many cat owners, resulting in feline friends being taken to shelters each year! Here are some reasons your kitten may not be using the litter box:
1) They have a medical condition. Problems such as urinary tract infections and diabetes could cause difficulty for the cat to consistently use the litter box. Allow your pet to have a full check-up with the vet before you try to make any changes.
2) The box is not clean. Would you want to use a dirty bathroom? Neither would your cat! Scoop out feces and urine at least twice a day and empty/scrub down the whole box about once every week (depending on the filler) if you want your cat to continue using it. Most cats prefer not to have a lid on the box unless it is kept immaculate. Remember, if you have multiple cats/kittens then you need multiple litter boxes (number of cats/kittens + 1=box number).
3) The box is in an undesirable location. Some necessities for litter box locations: They should be away from the food and water bowl, in an easy to reach place, in a quiet area, and in a place where the cat can feel safe. Cats do not like surprises when using the litter box, so make sure they have a private space to be. If you have multiple cats in the home make sure there is a safe exit from the litter box area so your timid cat or young kitten does not feel trapped.
4) The filler type. Your cat may not like scented cat litter or would prefer clumping over clay. Fill it up! The litter should be fairly deep so make sure there is adequate quantity in the box for some serious digging.
5) The cat is trying to tell you something. Sometimes, urinating in strange places is a cat’s way of expressing its feelings. For instance, if you go away on vacation and leave the cat alone, they may urinate on your BED to relieve their feelings of anxiety! There are treatments for this so seek veterinary advice for ways to improve your cats mood.
If your cat has been using alternative spaces to relieve themselves, and now you have made changes, make sure you have neutralized the area they used to go to! Remove all odor that was there with an enzymatic cleaner, and maybe consider even quarantining the pet from that part of the house–at least for a little while. Once the pet starts continuously using the litter box, then you can re-introduce them to the area.
Spadafori, G. (2001, November 08). Think inside the box. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=315
Spadafori, G. (2007, December 01). Better box habits. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2657
Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury