Cat sitting on the floor

4 MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT LITTER BOXES

06/19/17

When nature calls, cats deserve the comfort of their own personal sanctuary. That’s why knowing proper litter box care is so important. Whether you’re a first-time cat owner overwhelmed by the options or just looking for a refresher course on the basics, we answer the four most common questions about litter boxes below.

How often should I clean my cat’s litter box?

Here’s the scoop: When it comes to bathroom cleanliness, our cats’ needs aren’t that different from our own. Think about it. Would you want to use a washroom that hadn’t been cleaned? Here are some ways you can keep your cat’s litter box spick and span:

  • Make sure the box is scooped at least once or twice a day because a bad smell can deter a cat from using their litter box altogether.
  • Skip the harsh chemicals and wash the box with hot water and mild, unscented soap or baking soda once a month.
  • You’ll want to replace clay litter twice a week and replace scoopable, clumping litter every two to three weeks.
  • If you have a plastic litter box, replace both the box and scoop after one year. Repeated use can cause the plastic to smell (making your cat less likely to use it) and can cause it to deteriorate.

Cleaning frequency depends on the number of cats and boxes you have in your house as well as the type of litter you use. Keep in mind that many cats like a littler box of their own so if you have multiple cats, you should have multiple litter boxes. Avoiding placing little boxes near food and water dishes is also important.

What litter is best to use?

Admit it. You have a favourite brand of toilet paper that you’ll stand by no matter what. Well, cats feel pretty strongly about their bathroom amenities too.

Cats tend to like the comfort of fine-grained scoopable and “clumping” litter because it feels softer. However, your cat may be perfectly happy with basic clay or sand. Unscented is another popular option since litters with a scent can actually turn some cats off. The type of litter you should use really depends on your cat and their personal preferences.

Trying to please a picky kitty? Line up a few boxes with different litters and have them sample several different varieties until they find one they like. At the end of the day, the best litter is the one that allows your cat to relieve him or herself comfortably.

Open or closed litter box?

When shopping for a litter box, there are many different styles to choose from. One of the decisions you’ll make is whether you want an open or closed litter box.

Closed boxes can be uncomfortable for some cats. There may not be enough room for them to move around inside and they can trap odours that your feline friend may find unappealing. A closed box is good for cats that have a tendency to spray out of an open box though.

Open is a good alternative as long as it is regularly cleaned, a large size, and placed in an appropriate location.

Another thing to keep in mind is the height of the entrance of the litter box. Older cats can find it difficult to enter boxes with too much height and may avoid them because of this.

Again, it all depends on your cat’s unique needs. If a closed box is working for them, no need to make an unnecessary change that could cause them anxiety.

Why is my cat vocal while using the litter box?

If your cat becomes vocal while using its litter box, it could be a sign of a serious medical issue that requires a visit to the vet. Or, the box itself could be the problem. It could be that they are straining to urinate or possibly constipated. As cats get older their bodies aren't quite as limber and arthritis could play a role in litter box issues. Your senior cat could be having a difficult time maneuvering around inside her covered litter box, so be sure the box is low to the ground, large in size and uncovered.

It’s best to take these sounds seriously because ignoring them could lead to an even bigger problem – your cat may decide to ditch the litter box all together and relieve themselves wherever they please.

Vocalizing after litter box use may be harder to interpret.  It certainly may be a ploy for attention or that something could be wrong, however most cats just like letting you know that they’ve done their business and that it might be a good time for you to clean it up!

When in doubt, contact your vet to rule out any serious problems. You may even receive advice on how you can prevent the excessive vocalizing from happening in the future.  

No matter what option you choose, remember to be consistent with training and give lots of praise when your cat uses the box correctly. Good luck!