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Learning to use the litter box by a cat

Learning to use the litter box

Cats are extremely picky and tend to defecate outside the home in relatively open and unused spaces. Unless it's important to the terrain (deliberately leaving their scent as a territory marker), cats carefully cover their droppings and walk away. Cats are extremely clean animals, and we, as owners, must provide a clean toilet in the right place to avoid problems.

Getting your cat to use the litter box at home is, in a way, making him act against his instincts. So it is certainly no surprise that the most common behavioral problem reported by owners is when their pet is not using their litter box.

It's important not to give your cat a reason to avoid using the litter box. Keep it very clean and place it in a quiet place of the house where your cat would like to use it. You may even need to prepare more litter boxes, including one at the destination.

Avoiding Problems

  • Most kittens, before they reach their new owners, know how to use the litter box - they learn to use it by imitating their mother. To help your kitten learn to use the litter box, place him gently in the litter box after he finishes eating, wakes up from sleep, and finds him sniffing, scratching, or crouching in a corner.
  • Choose a litter box that will be easy for your cat to use. A plastic container with low sidewalls is best for starters; later change it to a deeper or covered litter box.
  • Provide at least one litter box for each cat in the house, plus one more. Place each of them in a quiet, rarely frequented but easily accessible place.
  • Place the litter box away from water and food bowls in an easily accessible but secluded place. Avoid damp, dark basements, remote bedrooms, noisy washing machines, or places that people or other animals often pass through, such as kitchen corners.
  • If you have more than one cat, make sure that the litter boxes are in more than one place as these resources can be 'guarded' and may not be used by timid cats.
  • When your kitten gets older, and for adult cats, choose a litter box that is deep enough (to prevent the cat from spilling litter while rummaging) and large enough (so that it can turn completely in it). Place a paper undercoat under the litter box to collect all the litter that spills out of it.
  • You can use an open litter box, but for cats that want a little privacy, choose a covered litter box with a carbon filter to minimize odors and spill litter. Some cats will not like a covered litter box with a narrow entrance as they will feel vulnerable not being able to observe their surroundings while in the litter box.
  • Some cats prefer clumping, scoopable litter to others. Using a spatula, select the contaminated litter, leaving the rest clean and dry. Remember to clean the litter box regularly, even if you use clumping litter, because if your cat has a sensitive smell, the litter box with the selected spatula contaminated with litter is not fully cleaned.
  • Avoid litter and bedding that are flavored as they can be repulsive to your cat.
  • Older cats may prefer the softer, sand-like litter as it is gentler on their degenerated joints.
  • If your cat came to you from another house, find out what litter was used there. Some cats refuse to use litter they don't like.
  • Fill the cuvette to the level recommended by its manufacturer and place it on an easy-to-clean surface or put a paper liner. If you are changing litter from one type to another, check the recommendations on the level to which you should fill the litter box, as there are differences between different types of litter. Always ensure that the amount of litter allows your cat to exhibit normal burying behavior. The new type of litter may feel different and smell different, so make the change slowly, mixing both types together at first.
  • If you are using clumping litter, remove the contaminated substrate at least once a day. At least once a week (more often if you do not use lump litter) empty the litter box and wash it with hot water and detergent. Avoid disinfectants as some are toxic to cats.
  • If you are pregnant, due to the risk of toxoplasmosis, never remove contaminated cat litter.
  • Never leave your cat at home without a litter box. Cats are very clean so they will hold their urine / faeces which is very uncomfortable, stressful and may increase the risk of health problems.
  • Even if your older cat usually urinates outdoors, you must have a litter box in the house as arthritic cats will be reluctant to go out and old cats may not want to venture into the garden when it's cold.
  • Checking out at home can be a purely behavioral problem, but it can also indicate a physical problem, such as.feline urological syndrome (SUK) - a painful and potentially fatal disorder where urine drainage is prevented. This condition is stress-related, so you may need to analyze your cat's lifestyle and identify sources of stress, including litter box problems themselves.
  • Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat urinates or defecates outside of the litter box, becomes tight when urinating / defecates, spends a lot of time in the litter box, visits it frequently, licks the perineum, or shows blood in its urine.

If your cat has problems using the litter box or urinates / defecates incorrectly, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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