If there is one thing that makes cats substantially easier to look after than dogs, it’s the litterbox.
Sure, you have to scoop regularly and try to tuck it away where it won’t bother guests. But after that, the litterbox is at your cat’s disposal, and you don’t have to be around for scheduled potty breaks and the rest is pretty simple to manage.
While most cat owners find their felines fairly low maintenance compared to other pets, a real struggle ensues when the potty protocol isn’t followed. Things stop being simple when your cat begins to have litterbox issues.
There are a few reasons that cats can begin to soil outside of the litterbox. So before you panic, here are a few things to check into:
One more litterbox than you have cats. Most cat owners swear by this rule — if you have one cat, you should have two litterboxes. If you have two cats, you should have three litterboxes, and so on.
Keep things clean. Scooping the litterbox can be a chore, but some cats are very particular and won’t mess in a dirty litterbox. If your cat is refusing to use the litterbox, try cleaning it out more frequently. This is a very common reason for a cat to have litterbox issues.
Adjust litter amount and type. Some cats prefer one type of litter over another. If you have that extra litterbox, this is an easy thing to test. Simply fill one of the litterboxes with a different type of litter. You can also adjust the amount of litter, as some cats don’t like to sink into the litterbox, and others love to dig around.
"Think outside the box." Most humans prefer covered pans — it hides the mess better. Some cats don’t like a covered litterbox, and others prefer it. Some of the fancy auto-clean litterboxes can be scary for cats, too, and this can cause them to avoid the box.
Location, location, location. Think about where the litterbox is located. Is it difficult to access? Is it near a noisy appliance? Did you change the location from the "usual" place? Sometimes, the location matters.
Big cat, big box — little cat, little box. Seems simple enough, right? If you have a bigger cat, he might have a hard time trying to aim into a littlebox. Make sure that the litterbox you are using is long enough for your cat.
Stress factor. Did you recently move? Did you get married? Adopt another cat? Stress can cause a reaction in any pets, and your cat may be responding by peeing outside the litterbox. Sometimes giving your cat his own room for a short while will help reduce stress and make litterbox access easier.
Upset tummy. Some cats are good with dietary changes, but others are prone to easily upset tummies when they are given a new food. Also, if your cat has recently gotten into something, an upset stomach can be the result. Cats that are having tummy troubles might not be able to make it to the litterbox before things get… uh, out of control.
Medical issues. Urinary tract infections are common in cats — especially in cats that have a lot of grain in their diets. Other medical causes of urinary issues include diabetes, urinary crystals, gastrointestinal issues, and issues with the kidneys or liver.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 28, 2012