The Cats’ Ensuite
Putting the cat out at night is a thing of the past for responsible cat owners.
Most accidents that happen to cats occur at night, whether they be road accidents or cat fight injuries, and cats that are confined at night are more likely to live to a ripe old age than cats left at large.
Many cat owners now choose to keep their cats confined for their cat’s safety or to comply with local government curfews.
Cats have a natural instinct to bury their feces and will readily use a litter tray and this makes the cat an ideal house pet. Kittens will start using a litter box at 4 weeks old and a house cat with access to a litter tray, unlike a dog, will not require its owner to take it out for ‘toilet breaks’ on a regular basis.
Cat toilet trays containing ash or sand were used for decades up until 1947 when an American cat owner complained to her neighbor that her cat tracked the ash through her house. The neighbor worked carting sand and gravel in the family business and gave the cat owner clay pellets, used to absorb grease, as a substitute for the ash. This worked so well that he decided to sell it and distributed his ‘kitty litter’ from the back of his car while traveling around the country and even cleaned the cat boxes at cat shows in return for space to demonstrate his ‘kitty litter’.
Since then the search for the perfect cat litter has continued. Today there are many choices – clumping litter, silicon litter and litters made from organic or recycled material as well as the original clay-based litter.
While you may think you have found the perfect litter your cat will certainly let you know if the litter is unacceptable by refusing to use the tray.
Some products are perfumed but what smells good to you may not smell good to your cat. The fragrance may deter some cats from using the litter box–either because the cat doesnÊ¼t like the scent or because the scent may mask the
unpleasant smell of a dirty litter box. The best way to get rid of an odor is to remove the cause by scooping or changing the litter.
The most common cause of cats refusing to use their litter tray is a dirty tray.
Cleaning a tray with strong smelling or perfumed disinfectants may make the cat reluctant to use the tray.
Some cats have a strong preference for certain types of litter. An abrupt change in the type of litter used can actually make a cat reluctant to use the tray.
Some cat prefers a covered litter tray.
Cats like privacy when using a tray and the tray should not be placed in a ‘high traffic’ area.
Putting a tray near food or water bowls or sleeping area will deter the cat from using the tray.
Putting the tray near a noisy appliance, such as a washing machine, may scare the cat and make it reluctant to return to use the box.
Multi-cat households should have more than one box available to the cats. Three cats should have two boxes.
If your cat is elderly, a shallow cat litter tray is best since deeper ones require the cat to climb or hop in and out.
Don’t automatically assume your cat no longer likes its litter if it begins to urinate and/or defecate outside its box. Your pet may have a medical problem unrelated to the litter and should be checked by your veterinarian.