How to prevent litter box problems
One of the most difficult things a cat owner may have to deal with is a cat having litter box problems. Sadly, more cats are sent to shelters or rejected because of this one problem than anything else. In this blog I will try to give a few bits of advice about this complex topic that usually leads to frustration for the owner and also puts the cat’s life in danger.
First, make sure you have enough litter boxes. Most experts recommend that you should have one litter box for each cat, plus one extra litter box. For example, if you have 2 cats it may be helpful to have a total of 3 litter boxes. This does seem like an inconvenience, but it helps the anxious cat who is having urinary difficulties make it to the litter box without being “tackled” by a more aggressive cat.
Cats are very finicky animals and have sensitive noses, so keeping the litter box as clean as possible is a necessity if you want the cat to use it. A litter box that has clumps and smells bad may convince your cat to relieve himself in your bedroom or even worse – on your bed. One way to help keep the litter box clean if you don’t have the time to continuously monitor it is with a self-cleaning litter box such as the ScoopFree Original Self Cleaning Cat Litter Box. When cleaning the litter box, however, it is a good idea to leave a very little bit of the old litter there so the cat can smell the area that has been used before. Also, cats are creatures of habit so always transition slowly to a new type of litter, litter box, or litter box placement.
Just like humans, many cats like their privacy. If you place the litter box in a high traffic area, don’t be surprised if the cat finds a hidden corner somewhere where he can be alone for a few minutes. When I sneak a peak at my cat eliminating there is a particular look on his face that I can only describe as a “Zen” relaxed look that says “I’m chillin’ for a moment, please leave me alone.”
Punishing your cat for having accidents outside the litter box may make the problem even worse. Cats will generally not understand the reason for the punishment, and the punishment will only make the cat more nervous therefore creating confusion, anxiety and possibly leading to more litter box problems as a result.
If your cat has soiled a particular area, using a good urine cleaning agent such as Get Serious may help remove your pet’s pheromones, which are the chemicals which attract the pet to go back and eliminate in that same spot. Pheromones cannot be detected by humans through smell or sight, so using the appropriate cleanser is a necessity. You can also try a product such as Comfort Zone for Cats which releases a comforting pheromone to help safely and naturally stop your cat’s urine marking behavior. For a cat that has stopped using the litter box, to get your cat back on track try a litter such as Cat Attract Cat Litter which contains an herbal attractant and has a special texture to help draw your cat back to the litter box.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is another reason a cat may eliminate inappropriately. A UTI can cause many symptoms, and some of them are not easily observable by the pet owner. Cats with a UTI may urinate more frequently, but it seems like only a small amount of urine comes out each time. The urine may possibly have a strong urine odor, the cat may be straining while urinating or crying and looking uncomfortable. If you suspect your cat has a UTI, you can try a test called Cranimals UTI Test Kit for Cats; however, since it is difficult to make a proper diagnosis of your cat’s urinary health it is best to bring the cat to the veterinarian if you suspect a problem. There could be stone formation or a variety of other conditions that may need immediate treatment.
If your cat does have a urinary tract infection it is important to follow the veterinarian’s advice exactly. The veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic that needs to be taken appropriately to ensure the infection is properly eradicated. After the infection is gone however, the best way to prevent another infection is to maintain urinary health with some over-the-counter medication. NaturVet Cranberry Relief is an example of a product that helps to support urinary health and keep the immune system functioning properly. Another product that may be helpful is UT Soft Chews. These chews help fight off infections, keep tissues healthy, and maintain the balance of bacteria.
As always, if you notice your cat acting differently or he or she seems unwell, going to the veterinarian for an exam is the best course of action to prevent a more serious progression of the illness. The more any illness progresses without medical intervention, the more dangerous it becomes for the pet and the more costly it will be to return the animal to health. If you have any medication related question, your 1800PetMeds pharmacist is also there to help answer those for you.