Three Litter Box Tips for Humans

Our favourite part of feline care is probably not litter box maintenance.   Perhaps this is because our cats’ litter box behaviour is a bit of a mystery to us and we unknowingly make several mistakes when setting up their litter boxes. I know that I made many mistakes when I adopted my very first cat! In this post, I’ll review three basic aspects of litter box maintenance for humans that I  would have loved to know about at the time, and that I hope will help you!

Think like a cat when deciding where to put the box

From the cat’s perspective, the box is not just a place to conveniently eliminate waste. A cat will eliminate to mark territory, define its boundaries, demonstrate superiority to other cats, and yes, even communicate with you.  The location and type of box are important to our felines.  Thinking like a human when choosing the box and its location is our first mistake.

Litter boxes should be accessible:  From my human perspective, I want as much privacy as possible when taking care of business.  While Kitty does need a certain amount of privacy to feel safe when using her box, she does not require the same level of privacy as we do. Place the box away from loud noises and any high traffic areas where fast, sudden movements or noises could startle your cat and create a negative experience.  Hooded boxes should also be placed with the opening facing towards to room so that Kitty can see anything coming her way.

Litter boxes in multi-pet homes: Aside from being easily accessible, and having sufficient escape routes in case of an ambush by other cats, the box’s location has to be territorially important for marking boundaries inside the house between cats.  You will notice which cat rules which part of the house by where they choose to do their business.  Sometimes, neighbouring pets can also influence territorial marking. For example, a neighbour’s dog often came up to my patio door to bark at my cats. This prompted them to eliminate on the carpet to send a clear message to the dog. Placing a litter box next to that door solved the issue.

Learn what type of box your cat approves of

The second mistake that we make is choosing a box that we like. If your cat does not approve of the box, she will make that abundantly clear to you.  In my personal experience, it took me several tries to find a litter box system that my cat deemed acceptable.

The box needs to be large enough for your cat:  My large cat requires a box that accommodates her for size, height, and head clearance. I finally settled on putting a box inside of a larger box, allowing her to step in gradually.

The type of box needs to suit your cat:  After many trials, I learned that my cat did not like hooded litter boxes! I removed all of the covers and was rewarded by her consistently using the litter box. I also learned that odour was not the issue that I thought it would be with an uncovered box. Odour Buster™ does its job and Kitty loves her box in a box placed next to the door where she can mark her territory. I can live with that!

Learn to pay attention to your cat’s subtle behaviour

The third mistake that  we make is  not paying attention to our cat.  As above, you notice that I made several attempts to satisfy my cat from litter box location to type and paid attention to her reactions. I learned a lot about both of my cats’ litter box habits by observing them. Armed with this knowledge, I will be able to notice any change in their litter box habits that might indicate the need to consult with my vet.  Cats are masters at hiding their pain and making it difficult for us to notice when something might be wrong.  Subtle changes in their behaviour could indicate the need to visit the vet. For more litter box tips, you can read our Litter box 101 tip sheet. Consult your veterinarian for any questions or doubts that you might have about your cats’ health.

Success!

Now that you know more about the litter box environment and feline behaviour, you can decide if you have some changes to make!  After all, the litter box is for your cat. Set up the litter box to appeal to your fur baby for best results – and by best results, I mean that your cat will actually use the box, every time.