Litter boxes… everyone’s favorite part of being owned by a cat. Cleaning that box might be the chore you put off until the end of the day and no one could blame you. While there’s no magical way to remove this aspect of cat-keeping, there are ways to make it less of a drag. If you overlook some of these areas, you may also end up with a cat who chooses to relieve himself outside of the box. Since that pesky habit can take a while to reverse, save yourself time and energy by starting off on the right foot. With a well-planned litter box, everyone’s least favorite job can go a little smoother.
How Many Litter Boxes?
Though you may think you only need one box, this is rarely true. Even solo cats are happier with two boxes. It might seem inconvenient to buy and maintain two for just one cat, but this will be less work than cleaning outside of the box if your cat expresses his displeasure. For very finicky cats, even a little mess inside the litter will deter them from using it. When you have two boxes, your picky cat can simply opt for the other box. Most people would prefer that than having to constantly, hastily clean the box throughout the day. If you have more than one cat, you’ll definitely need more than one box. Even if you have two charming cats who cohabitate well, cats are instinctively territorial about their litter boxes. If both cats need to use the box at the same time, one may pee on the floor out of frustration. Having an extra box greatly reduces the chances of conflict.
Choosing A Box
As for the box itself, you have many different options. Each cat is an individual with specific preferences, but generally speaking, the bigger the better. A cramped space will definitely make a cat think twice about using the box. Some people prefer dome-top roofs to avoid having guests see the contents of the box. While it may look tidier, having a closed container can make the smell overpowering inside. Cats may also prefer to have full visibility while doing their business, especially if the top slips off easily, which many of them do. A great way to reduce mess outside of the box is to have tall sides, but make sure at least one side is low to the ground. A litter box that is too high will be a nuisance to climb into, especially for senior cats. Some boxes have a slight ramp up to the litter area, which can be a good compromise. Self-cleaning litter boxes are handy but can be expensive to initially buy and then upkeep. Many cats find the automatic cleaning to be unnerving, even though they are not inside while it’s happening. There’s also something to be said for seeing what’s in your cat’s litter on a daily basis so that you’ll notice if there are any changes health-wise.
Pick Your Litter
Litter comes in all shapes, sizes, and smells. Most people are familiar with the classic clay litter, which comes in both clumping and non-clumping form. The clumping form is easier to clean, but dusty and non-biodegradable. Two of the better smelling litters are walnut shells and pine. Those two are more environmentally-friendly but tend to be messier. Not all cats appreciate the pine or walnut smell. On the pricier end of the scale, there’s silica. Though many like the look of silica, it is quite crunchy and the granules can get stuck on a cat’s paw. Odor-control litters are popular, but not all cats take to them. Cats are turned off by strong, foreign scents, particularly in an area where they want to be able to smell that they have been there before. Other options for litter include newspaper, grass, wheat, and corn. It may be a little overwhelming to look at all of the options for litter. The best thing to do is just pick one and see how your cat takes to it. To play it a little safer, avoid litters with overwhelming smells.
Location is Everything
Although you may be tempted to stick the litter box in an isolated part of the basement, this could lead to trouble. It’s wise to put the box in a quiet area, but you don’t want it to be so far out of the way that it’s inconvenient for the cat to access. This is particularly true for older cats, who may have troubles with stairs or long walks. Avoid placing it near loud dishwashers or washing machines. The idea is to have it in an area where your cat feels safe and confident. Keep in mind that glass doors and large windows can serve as a distraction or be alarming for timid cats.
Keep it Clean
The cleaner you are able to keep your litter box, the more likely it is your cat will happily use it without complaint. Cats are extremely particular about where they do their business, and any mess is going to be a roadblock to success. In addition to scooping out the mess twice a day, make it a habit to wash the entire box weekly. Remember your cat’s disdain for powerful scents and avoid using a cleaner with a noticeable smell. Don’t neglect the area around the litter box. Urine smells or other waste on the floor will also send the wrong message to your cat. As tedious as this process can be, spending a little time on it every day will save you from having a bigger job later on.
Keeping Your Cat Content
With litter boxes, you have to consider a second opinion – the one of your cat. As all tenacious cat owners can attest, those opinions are usually inflexible. It can take a maddening amount of time and brain power to retrain a cat to use his litter box, so any efforts you take to prevent that are far from wasted. Keep in mind that if your cat inexplicably begins to pee outside of the litter box, it may be time for a vet visit. Avoiding the litter box is often a behavioral issue, but it can also be indicative of illness.