The right kitty litter can make all the difference
When it comes to their bathroom, a lot of cats are very particular. They might like one kind of kitty litter and turn up their noses at another.
"A lot of cats don't like the really strong scents," said Mikkel Becker, a local pet trainer who writes for Vetstreet.com. "They really like the unscented clumping litter, just the plain sand kind. And while it may be a little more dusty, cats actually like it the best and are the most likely to use it.
Becker told me she usually avoids litter made from anything else because she's found that most cats don't use it as much.
Something else that can drive the cat away - scented chemicals used to clean the box.
"Cats do not like citrus for the most part, and so it actually keeps them away from the litter box," Becker said. "I like to use gentle dish detergent that's non-scented. That way you don't discourage the cat from using the box."
If you're having litter box problems, it may not be your cat's fault. Most cats really want to use the box -- if their people don't hide it in the laudry room, basement or out in the garage.
"Think about it from the cat's perspective. That's a long way to have to go to go to the bathroom," Becker said. "So, a lot of times for them, it's more convenient to just go right there on the carpet, especially for elderly cats."
The litter box should be on the floor - actually on every floor of the house - and it needs to be large enough that your cat wants to use it. Becker told me she uses plastic storage boxes.
"And I fill it with just a little bit of litter. And the cat will usually have a preference on how deep they want their litter. So put one side a little more shallow and one side more deep and watch to see which side the cat is using more. And then you can actually set the litter at that level from then on," she explained.
Mikkel says many cats don't like lids on their litter boxes - it holds in the smell - sort of like a stinky outhouse. They can also feel trapped in there.
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