What is the best way to prevent litterbox
1. Have your cat spayed
or neutered by six months of age. Sexually mature,
intact cats frequently use urine and feces to mark
their territory. Neutering will correct the elimination
problems in 90% of these cats.
2. The rule of thumb
for the number of litterboxes is: one per cat in
the household, plus one. Extra litterboxes are necessary
because some cats like to defecate in one and urinate
in another. Others will not use a box that has already
been used by another cat. Different areas for the
litterboxes can prevent location-avoidance problems.
3. Clean the litterboxes
DAILY. The single most common reason for a cat's
refusal to use a litterbox is because the box is
dirty. Non-clumping litter should be scooped daily
and the litterbox emptied and washed every other
day. Clumping litter should also be scooped daily
and the litterbox washed when soiled. The cheaper
clumping litters that break-up easily should be
dumped out as frequently as the non-clumping litters.
(Bacteria left in the litterbox will smell to the
cat even if you can't smell it.)
4. Choose a litter
that appeals to the cat. Most cats prefer the texture
of the sand-like scooping litters. Be sure to select
a brand that clumps into a firm ball, making scooping
easier and cleaner. As a health precaution for kittens
that might be prone to ingest the litter, use a
non-clumping litter until the kitten is four months
5. NEVER use scented
litter. Perfumed, chemical scents repel cats. When
you wash the litterbox, use hot water and a mild
dishwashing liquid. Do not use harsh chemicals that
will leave a lingering odor.
6. Do not use litterbox
liners--they can be irritating to some cats. Covered
or hooded litterboxes can be offensive to cats as
they do not satisfy the cat's need for escape potential
when eliminating. They also trap the odor inside,
creating an "outhouse effect". The litterbox
should be uncovered and at least 22" x 16"
for an adult cat.
7. Place litterboxes
in quiet, private places that are easily accessible
to the cat and where it will not be disturbed by
children or ambushed by other pets. Noisy areas
near washing machines, furnaces, or under stairs,
may frighten the cat away from the box. A house
with several stories should have a litterbox on
each floor. NEVER place litterboxes near food and
8. While kittens have
an innate predisposition to use an easily raked
substrate as their litter, they may also choose
other, more convenient, locations. You should limit
their territory until they learn that the litterbox
is the only acceptable place to eliminate. Praise
and rewards will speed up the learning process.
Like small children, they should not be expected
to travel very far to find their toilet areas.
9. When introducing
a new cat into the home, confine the cat to one
room with its litterbox, bed, food and water, until
the cat has used the litterbox several times and
shows an interest in exploring the rest of the house.
Once you have decided on the placement for the litterboxes
in your house -- don't move them!
10. Help your
cat feel comfortable in his home territory. Play
games with him, give him a massage, talk to him
frequently. Give him positive and affectionate attention.
A confident, secure, contented and relaxed cat does
not need to relieve anxiety and stress by such extreme
measures as urine or fecal marking.
If you would like to
work with a Wisconsin Humane Society behaviorist
one-on-one regarding this behavior topic, please
call 414-431-6173 to schedule a consultation.