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How to Train a Cat to Use the Litter Box
With time, patience (and proper cat treats) you can train a cat to: accept a daily grooming routine, stay calm during a nail trim and even accept a bath. However, when it comes to litter box “training,” your cat is ahead of the game. Sand is his friend. If you placed a mound of sand in the middle of your living room (your neighbors might be inclined to call the local sanitarium) but your cat would thank you then use it for his potty zone. Ok, so maybe that option is out (but that’s why litter pans were invented).
Relief is Not a Moment Away
Instinctively, after they eat, cats look for places to relieve themselves. In the wild, the queen travel s a great distance from her nest. She will use one area to pee in and another area to poop. Carefully, she covers her waste for this protects her nest. Tomcats don’t always bother to cover their poop. Oftentimes, their leavings serve as warnings or messages to other cats. Depending on how Alpha he is results on how deep he buries his waste or whether he even bothers to cover it at all.
Location is Key
Cats need secluded areas to poop and pee in. Place litter boxes in low- traffic areas. Cat litter flies, so keep the boxes away from kitty’s food sources. Be sure you have at least 2-3” of cat litter in the pan.
Level the Field
One kitty needs two litter pans, three would be ideal. Litter boxes should be placed in every level of your home- even for inside/outside kitties.
The Great Cover Up
Avoid covered litter boxes. They can cause litter pan avoidance, and promote litter pan ambushes. Don’t use litter pan liners. They get caught in kitty’s claws easily.
Think Outside the Box
Go for the larger-sized litter boxes. The regular sized aren’t suitable for the adult cat. Rubbermaid gives you a large selection of containers that you can easily convert to litter boxes.
Spend Dollars Not Scents
Avoid heavily scented litters. Marketed to appeal to us; scented litters can annoy a cat’s sensitive Jacobson’s organ (located behind their front teeth). The first time kitty uses this litter and scoops to cover her waste; she will be reluctant to return to the scene of the grime. Better to buy plain clay litter (clumping or otherwise) and add your own baking soda.
Good rule of thumb- if you pour the litter out of the box and YOU can smell it- there’s a good chance of litter pan avoidance in your future.
Avoiding the Signs Doesn’t Make the Problem Go Away
If your cat is avoiding using the litter box for over 48 hours, a vet visit is in order. Litter pan avoidance can be based on something simple; like cleaning the box more often, supplying more litter pans or it can be an indication of a larger health issue. Best to get the cat checked first by a vet. Urinary Tract Infections can quickly snowball and harm or even kill a cat. The most accurate test to use to determine if your cat is suffering from a UTI is a cystocentesis- a needle draw of urine from the bladder. If the cat checks out health-wise, then it is your turn to put your thinking cap on and become a Litter Box Detective to find out what’s wrong with your cat or his environment.