Tagged: “litterbox problems”

Think Inside the Box!

Think Inside the Box!

Is your cat having accidents around the house?  Not using the litterbox consistently?  Before you turn him into an outdoor cat (which doesn’t really solve the problem – just takes it out of the house) please give us a call.  As mentioned in another article, myself and another employee (Ash) are taking a 10-week course on solving cat behavior problems; and litterbox issues are a huge part of what we are learning.

As I learn more about all the things that can trigger a cat to stop using a litterbox, I am amazed to think that any cat does use it with any regularity!  It seems that cats are sensitive creatures and marking (with urine) is one of their coping mechanisms.  That along with a strong need to claim territory and make it “theirs” can lead to spraying problems.  Which is different, believe it or not, than inappropriate peeing!  Telling the difference can be tricky which is why we are taught to ask a lot of questions.  When do the accidents happen?  Where?  How long has it been happening?  Is the pee a puddle or a line?  Is it on vertical surfaces or horizontal?  Are there other animals in the home?  Any changes with the family – work schedules, people coming or gone, etc.?  Any one of these things could be the cause.

Of course, the big question is – when was the cat last at the veterinarian?  It’s important to first rule out any possible health issue.  A cat can’t help having accidents if she has a bladder infection!  And putting her outside is certainly not going to help that situation.  For male cats, little dribbles of urine could indicate a life-threatening blockage so it’s important to pay attention to those kinds of details.  Only after all possible medical issues have been ruled out do you focus on behavioral and environmental elements.

Cats can be finicky about their bathroom.  They are very clean animals and may refuse to use a dirty litterbox.  Even if you’ve just scooped it – if it hasn’t been washed out in weeks, it still smells dirty to them!  Putting a cover on it might help contain the smell from the rest of the house but that just makes it all the ickier to a cat whose sense of smell is thousands of times better than ours!  Some cats won’t pee and poop in the same box and some cats won’t share a box with another cat, especially if it’s just been used.  You never want that to be the reason for a mistake, so the rule is one box per cat – plus one!  And they need to be in various locations just in case part of the issue is that one cat is guarding the boxes.

There can be so many other issues with the box itself – how deep it is, the type of litter used, where the box is located, covered or uncovered, and so on that it’s really best to talk to someone with some base knowledge (won’t say we’re experts yet) to help you sort it out.  Making frequent random changes alone (for those of you who say you’ve already tried “everything”) can be a stressor and part of the problem!

If you’re dealing with a litterbox issue, please give us a call (584-1582, open Wed 1-6:30; Thur-Fri-Sat 1-5:30; Sun 1-4:30).  Ash and I would love to chat with you about what could be causing the problem and help brainstorm ways to solve it – without the cat being put outside or surrendered to the shelter.  Here’s where thinking inside the box is the right way!