Meow, it’s Simon Says Reimers here, and I own human Rita Reimers, the Cat Behaviorist. Now, around here we can’t get away with much, try as we might, as my mom is an expert when it comes to cat behavior. Well, we know a few ways to get around the rules, but that’s a story for another time. Today I am taking over her column, because I have something that I need to tell you.
I listen in on Mom’s phone calls, and I watch when she and Auntie Linda are talking to people about their cats. One of the things I hear them talk about over and over again is the litter box and why some cats don’t use it.
Of course, I would never even think about going anyplace else but in my litter box, but I can tell you what we felines are thinking as we approach the box and what might be a turnoff when it comes to using it. Here are my top litter-box turnoffs:
Only one box
Cats don’t really like to share anything. So, if your cats are sharing only one box, you’re going to have some upset kitties who will find their own places to do their thing. I know humans don’t like that, although I don’t really see the big deal since we do it in secret places and try to bury it well. We cats should each have our own box, and maybe one extra one, just in case. My prissy sister, Sweetie Pie, doesn’t like to go inside a box after we boy cats have used it. Yeah, I don’t get it either …
Litter box location
Where is my litter box, anyway? It was here just yesterday. Sometimes humans like to move the litter box and maybe even hide it when company comes over, meaning we have to hunt for it while the urge to go is upon us. Some kitties need to rush upstairs to get to their boxes, and older cats just can’t do that without having an accident. Some people even hide the litter box inside planters and furniture so we can’t even tell it’s a potty place. Please put your cat’s boxes in places with easy access so they can use it in a hurry. And don’t disguise it, or we may end up peeing on ALL the furniture!
Not scooping enough
Approaching a box and having the smell smack me in the whiskers is NOT acceptable. When did you last scoop your cat’s boxes? At least twice a day is acceptable, but even more is better. The last thing we want to do is stand in a stinky box full of other cats’ messes.
Some of us cats will not enter an enclosed litter box nor stay in there long enough to not only pee but also do Number 2. The other problem with the lid is when a cat decides to pick on their siblings, the siblings are sitting ducks just waiting to be ambushed with no way out. No lid = a quick entry and exit to avoid the litter box bully.
Litter box size
OK, I know I’m not the sleek tomcat I once was. I’m a bit chunky, so I need more room. Even those slim little cats need to be sure their rear ends don’t stick out of the box. If your cat can’t get into the box with room to turn around, chances are they will be leaving an unintended present on your floor when using the box. The longer the box is, the better we like it!
I get it. Humans don’t like the smell of the cat box, and neither do we, really. But some of those litters you humans give us smell like the perfume counter at the department store. Some of us don’t like perfumes and fancy scents and just want some plain, old, unscented litter. Plus, we won’t eat that scented stuff when we clean off our paws.
And yes, our paws are very sensitive. How else do you think we catch all those mice? Be kind and give us a litter that feels like you’re walking on the beach in Saint-Tropez. Ah yes, that feels good on my little beanie toes!
Too much litter
Mom used to tell me the story about one of her clients and how they filled the litter box to the very top of the box! I bet those cats felt like they were stepping into quicksand as they sunk deeper and deeper while dutifully trying to use that box. It’s also bad not to put enough in the box, because we cats like to bury our leavings so as not to attract predators. Just a few inches in the box is all we need to be happy and dedicated litter box users.
A final word
Of course, there is one other thing I need to bring up: the dreaded V word. Yep, veterinarian. Even though we might caterwaul and complain, we need to see the vet for a checkup if we’re avoiding the litter box a lot and it’s a brand new behavior. If your cat is sick, it’s not really his fault if he makes his messes on the floor. In nature, sick kitties avoid the common areas shared by the other cats. That includes the areas designated for going potty.
So, get that vet check, follow my simple rules, and I bet your kitties will be members of the I Use My Litter Box Club. Wait, that’s not a thing? Well, it should be!