One of the biggest upsides to having a cat is that they use a designated litter box, which means you can spend more time having fun and less time worrying about where kitty goes to the bathroom. That said, managing your cat’s litter box isn’t a complete walk in the park – cats are high-strung predators that are very territorial about their space, and this can cause some headaches. Unresolved litter box issues are the number one cause of cats being surrendered or abandoned every year, so it’s essential to establish a system that prevents kitty from becoming a deal-breaker.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to keeping your home’s litter boxes as comfortable and efficient as possible.
1. Create a space for kitty to claim.
The first step in setting up a litter box is determining your cat’s ideal place to tinkle. The domestic cat is generally a ball of quirky adorableness, but at heart, they’re still a predator and, when they use the litter box, they are also marking their territory. This instinct to mark causes most instances of urination outside the box. Cats will urinate to establish their place within the house, so this issue usually occurs when new cats, pets, or people are introduced into their living space. This is especially common for unfixed male cats, but any cat may urinate around the house if they feel their territory is being threatened.
Fortunately, this issue can be avoided or remedied a variety of ways. If you know that you are going to be introducing a new pet or person into your house, help your kitty avoid feeling stressed or displaced by making sure that they have safe places to retreat to where the new family member cannot bother them, like a separate room, enclosed bed space or cat tower. Natural pheromone or calming sprays can also be used in the home to reduce the tension. This allows your cat to feel that they still have a little bit of their own space and they can freely choose to interact with the new family member when they feel ready to. Make sure that their litter box is one of these secluded places! If a new person or pet is invading their marking spot, your cat will be forced to choose a new one in the house, so be sure to make multiple litter boxes available for your cat to choose from. At least one litter box per pet is recommended.
2. Select the right box, litter and location for your cat’s unique needs.
Older cats or very small kittens may have trouble going up stairs or jumping up into a high litter box, so make sure that your less-than-agile kitty can comfortably access the box. If the cat is being introduced to a covered litter box for the first time, you may want to tape open the door flap so that the kitty can get used to crawling in and out. If your cat loves to kick up sand, a covered litter box will save you a lot of cleanup. Placing a litter mat in front of your litter box can also keep litter granules from spreading to the rest of the house. No matter what consistency of litter you use, small amounts will be kicked out the door occasionally by your cat and a specially textured litter mat can grab those granules before they go any further.
If your cat suddenly begins urinating right next to the litter box, this may be a health issue and not a behavioral issue. The most common medical problem that cats develop is urinary tract infections, often secondary to a buildup of mineral sediment or crystals. These infections often develop unnoticed by the owners and eventually the infection can reach the point where it is painful for the cat to urinate. The cat will often associate the pain of urinating with the location of the box and will begin to avoid the box. By urinating right next to the box, your cat may be indicating that they still want to mark their usual spot but they are now afraid to use the box. If your cat displays this behavior, consider using a specialized, pH-sensitive litter, like Monthly Monitor crystals. If abnormal urinary pH is indicated or if you suspect your cat might have a urinary tract infection, consult your veterinarian.
3. Choose an all-natural, odor-controlling litter.
Even when kitty has used the litter box faithfully, there’s not much like the smell of uncleaned litter box. Fortunately, the production of cat litter has come a long way in the last few decades and cat owners can be choosey about what they prefer in a litter. This can make the litter aisle a little daunting, but the types and functions of different litters can be broken down simply. Most cat litters are either clay-based or plant-based. Clay-based litters tend to have a firmer clump and faster odor control while plant-based litters tend to be lighter weight and have a stronger natural fragrance. A few alternative types include litters made entirely of silica crystals that do not clump but do quickly dehydrate any waste before bacteria and ammonia can form. Some plant-based cat litters utilize the natural properties of walnut shells to absorb moisture and dehydrate any bacteria growing in the box. Others, like Kahoots Nature’s Best, are a light-weight alternative that uses the natural catechin compound in green tea leaves to absorb ammonia and other litter box odor while still clumping like a clay litter. These litters usually have the natural fragrance of whatever plant base they contain, which some cat owners enjoy. However, if your cat decides it does not like a certain fragrance, you may have to switch litters.
One of the latest solutions for Kitty waste management is the Kahoots Feline Amazing line of clay litter. This line of kitty litter is formulated out of pure sodium bentonite clay, which is more absorptive than any other type of clay. More absorption means the clay will clump fast and dry quickly, reducing the number of odor-causing microbes and bacteria. The Feline Amazing line offers formulas for every cat that incorporate natural ingredients for maximum odor control, like zeolite, a natural mineral that captures ammonia and seals it in for an odor-free box. Made with absorptive clay, ammonia-blocking zeolite and bacteria-eating probiotics, Kahoots Feline Amazing is a powerful option for kitty owners who want a safe, natural litter without any odor.
Whichever litter solution you choose, make sure you follow the recommended schedule for cleaning the box. Kitties don’t like a dirty box any more than we do and will sometimes go outside the box if waste builds up. Regularly deep-cleaning the litter box and litter scoop can help you avoid potential bacteria growth in the plastic. It is recommended that you replace your box and scoop every year to keep your kitty’s restroom clean and safe. With a little insight into your cat’s litter box needs, it’s easy to set up a waste management system that works for you both.