Selecting the right litter box and litter for your cat can make all the difference when it comes to litter box training and daily litter box use. Here are some guidelines to consider when making these important purchases.
The Litter Box
What Kind of Box ?
If your cat or kitten was trained in a litter box by a breeder or previous owner, find out what kind of box was used and buy the same (you can always transition to a new box once your cat is trained). If not, do some research to determine the best box for your home. Litter boxes come in a variety of shapes and styles, but one of the most important factors to consider is size. Your kitten will grow into a cat, and adult cats need a large and comfortable space to take care of business.
Something else to consider in your new litter box is accessibility. An uncovered litter box should have sides low enough that your cat can easily climb in and out. A hooded (or covered) litter box should have a roomy doorway. The key here is ease of entry – if it's a bother for your cat to get into the litter box, the less likely they'll be to do so.
And remember: cats should never share litter boxes. Some experts suggest that the number of litter boxes in your home should equal the number of cats you have, plus one. So if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes.
Location, Location, Location!
The location of your cat's litter box matters. Some points to consider:
- Set up the litter box in an area of the house that is free of clutter or obstacles, as well as loud noises or other distractions. When it's time for a bathroom break, cats prefer some quiet and privacy.
- Never place the litter box near your cat's food and water. Cats do not like to eliminate anywhere near these things, and they may serve as a deterrent to your cat using the box.
- Once cats know a litter box is available they will be more likely to use it than any other surface in the house – except, perhaps, for houseplants. Your cat may try to eliminate in a plant's soil, so during litter box training keep houseplants out of reach or cover the soil with rocks or tin foil.
If your cat or kitten was previously litter box trained, find out what kind of litter was used so you can use the same. If you don't end up liking that litter you can gradually transition to a new one, but for training purposes a familiar litter is best.
When selecting a new litter, here are some points to consider:
- Choose a litter that is unscented, absorbent, and as dust-free as you can find. Litters that contain dust can cause respiratory problems for cats when the dust is inhaled as the cat digs.
- You may be tempted to purchase scented litter to mask litter box odors. Many of these scented litters are too strong for cats, and your cat may choose to eliminate elsewhere to avoid the scent. To keep your litter box smelling fresh without scented litter, simply clean it more often.
- Many cat owners prefer clumping litter over nonclumping as it is easier to remove both solid and liquid waste daily. There is no final word on which is better – it's a preference and you may find that one works better for you and your cat than another.
Tip: For cats and kittens who were previously living outside, you may need to use dirt and sand instead of litter while litter box training. Once your cat starts to get comfortable using the box, gradually integrate litter, eventually replacing the dirt or sand altogether.
Keeping the System Working
Always keep your cat’s litter box clean. Solid material should be scooped out once or twice a day, after which the litter should be stirred. Liquid waste can be scooped at the same time if you are using clumping litter. Nonclumping litter should be changed once a week or as needed. Be sure to wash the litter box and let it dry completely before adding new litter.
Once you find a litter box/litter combination that works for your cat, stick with it! Cats are creatures of habit and introducing a new box or litter may take some adjusting and perhaps even additional training.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.
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