In most cases, bringing home a new cat or kitten means simply showing your new friend where the litter box is located and letting instinct take over. However, there are certain situations where training tips for cats can come in handy. Outdoor cats and even feral cats will naturally gravitate to sandy places where they can do their business, so as long as you create the right environment indoors, you should be set. It is important to note that some really young kittens and senior cats may need a little help with regard to litter box training. If you have questions or concerns, visit our Dartmouth animal hospital and speak with a South Coast veterinarian about your specific needs.
What’s the Best Litter Box?
If you have ever shopped around for litter boxes lately, you’ve likely noticed that there are a lot of different products available on the market. Boxes to provide kitty with some privacy are available, including cave-style, hooded, and semi-covered options. Boxes that allow small kittens and senior cats easy access to the litter are also available, as well as fancy high-tech models that take care of the scooping for you.
Veterinary studies show that most people choose a box that is too small for their cat. Start out by measuring your cat to ensure that the litter box is at least one-and-a-half times the length of the cat. This will help your cat to more easily use the new litter box and aid in training. Avoid high-tech or trendy products that appeal way more to people than to cats. While some cats don’t care, many will avoid fancy boxes and prefer to use simple boxes that you can pick up just about anywhere.
How Often Should the Box Get Cleaned?
Cat owners have debated this topic for ages, but veterinarians recommend that the box gets scooped daily and washed out thoroughly at least once a month. Of course, this could increase in frequency depending on the number of cats that you have in your home and your cat’s litter preferences. Many cats will refuse to use a litter box that is not clean, resulting in “accidents” all over the house.
There are two reasons why cats do this: one, a personal preference of cleanliness; and two, the natural instinct to hide the smell from predators. This is why cats bury their “business” when they use the litter box and why the box should be scooped daily. If your box is cleaned frequently and your cat still eliminates outside of the box, visit our veterinary clinic in Dartmouth for a check-up. This could be an indication of other issues and not a behavioral problem.
BONUS TIP – If your cat has a strong instinct to hide from predators, this might affect the type of box that they will prefer to use. Many cats will likely not use covered or “privacy” type boxes out of concerns that they could be trapped in a small space.
What Litter is the Best?
This is one of those situations where your mileage may vary, depending on the type of cat you have, the gender of the cat, the age of the cat, and your cat’s personal preferences. Sometimes you might have to try a few different kinds or brands before discovering the best litter for your cat. If you are adopting a cat from a shelter, ask about the type of litter that the cat is already using. This is the best way to provide something that kitty will be familiar with and avoid having to search out training tips for cats to find something that will work.
However, studies show that most cats prefer litters that are fine-grained and have a softer feel. Once again, avoid trendy products like crystals or natural materials that won’t provide kitty with a satisfying sandbox-like experience. Some cats will be fine with the new clumping-style litter, while others may have a problem with it. The same holds true with scented and unscented versions. Natural materials can be an issue, in particular, wheat-based or corn-based litters, as they smell similar to food and send the wrong message to the kitty.
Where Should the Litter Box Go?
This is a big question that might have multiple answers, depending on your cat, your home, and your lifestyle. Your South Coast veterinarian recommends that you have at least one box per cat in your home and if you have a multi-level house, make sure to put a box on each floor. Do not place the litter box in a closet or other small, confined space. Make sure your cat can easily get in and out of the box. Make sure the location is convenient but keep it out of reach of small children. If you also have dogs, make sure that kitty has a safe and quiet area away from the dog for privacy. This will also prevent Fido from eating “kitty treats” out of the litter box, which can also mean another trip to the Dartmouth animal hospital.
Need Help With a Specific Litter Box Issue?
Contact our office and speak with a team member at our veterinary clinic in Dartmouth. We can answer any questions that you have about the proper care and feeding of your cat, offer valuable training tips for cats and provide all of the veterinary services you need to keep your pets healthy and happy. Give us a call at 508-996-3731 to schedule a check-up with a South Coast veterinarian or to speak with our staff about your pet’s specific needs.