Cats are naturally clean animals. They are often seen licking themselves endlessly to wipe away any dirt in order to make sure that their coat is beautiful and clean. This is one of the reasons why so many cat owners love to have a feline in their home. It simply takes the pressure off the cat owner from having to constantly monitor and groom their pet, which is often the case with dogs.
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The Importance of Having the Right Litter Box
Cats have a highly developed sense of smell which is almost two times more developed than humans. For this reason, it is imperative to set up an environment that your cat can feel at ease and comfortable in. Else, the cat may end up straying away and in worse cases, even run away.
This is where having a litter box comes into play. Unlike hounds, cats can be better trained to go to the litter box and use it. In fact, they are so good and independent at doing so, that you may not even know when or if at all they’ve gone.
Yet, simply having a litter box is not enough to get them pooping in the right places. A lot of first-time owners believe that putting a litter box somewhere in the home will lead to their pet going in and finishing everything off, but they are mistaken.
Types of Litter Boxes Available
If you do not clean your cat’s home, there can be quite a lot of problems that can arise. That’s because not only will your cat experience defecation problems, but there could also be waste scattered all around the home.
- Open Box – An open box is one that is, as the word states, wide and open for the cat to enter. For the most part, they are just regular boxes that you put litter inside, and there are no gimmicks attached. These are the most common cat litter boxes bought by most owners.
- Closed Box – There are some cats that feel more comfortable when their box is slightly covered by a tray. Not only does this add to their sense of privacy but it also makes them feel like this bathroom is their own.
- Self-Cleaning Box – While a bit more expensive, these cat litter boxes are often timed with a sense that is activated from the cat leaving the box. Working off this automated system, the cat litter box does have a tendency to freak out the cat in the beginning since sudden noise and movements are made when activated.
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There are plenty of products that one might come across when they go about searching for a cat litter box. In fact, there are so many available in the stores that sometimes, we never know what to really buy since there are just too many choices out there.
Finding the Right Location
Placing their's pet's litter boxes in the wrong location is the biggest problem that a lot of cat owners face. That too without even realizing that they are placing the litter box in the wrong location. Either they put it somewhere too far and hidden for them to know whether the cat has used it or not, or they put it in some place that is inconvenient for the cat.
- A Private Spot – Cats are quite intuitive creatures. They can sense attention and emotion from miles away. For this reason, cats are just like humans and would feel a bit shy or uneasy to urinate or poop without some privacy. So, it is important to place your cat's litter box in a spot that gives it some privacy.
- A Quiet Place– This relates to the point above, but it is something to take into consideration. Wherever you place the litter box, you need to make sure that you don’t simply put it in a loud or noisy place as that may startle your cat. Your feline friend needs to feel secure and safe, and this won’t be the case if there is constant noise coming from here or there.
- Away from Food – Nobody likes to be eating where they poop. So it isn’t a good idea to place your cat’s food or bowl near the litter box. Often, first-time cat owners that don’t know much about cats, consider this to be the most convenient spot. However, this ends up mixing the two smells together and will keep the feline away from wanting to eat or go poop.
Why It’s Important to Clean?
If you do not clean your cat’s home, there can be quite a lot of problems that arise. Some of them are mentioned below.
- Urinary Retention – This is a common behavior in cats that do not have a clean place to urinate. That's because an unhygienic spot will end up affecting the cat’s mood and physical state of cleanliness. The litter tray may also increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
- Constipation – If a cat does not feel comfortable in the place it is supposed to poop or urinate, it may feel uneasy and in turn, refrain from defecating. With this being the case, a lot of issues such as constipation may occur. This is not something that you would want your pet cat to endure. So its best to clean well right from the beginning in order to save you from the trouble of taking your pet to the vet due to health issues.
How to Clean Your Cat Litter Box?
A cat is known for doing their duty and covering that space up in some way or form. This is what makes cats so intelligent and convenient to have, but this may also lead to many owners neglecting proper hygiene. That's because they may not know whether or not the cat has pooped or urinated. The following steps are things to consider while you go about cleaning the litter box.
- Dig, Don’t Scrape – As most cats place their poop in the corners of the litter box, it is important not to try to scrape it up. That's because you don’t know where it exactly is. So instead of scraping, you should dig it up from down under, as getting the clumps out is necessary.
- Tilt Around – Try tilting the litter box from side to side, as this will help to reveal un-clumped litter and may assist in discovering poop that you might otherwise leave to rot away.
- Clean Immediately if Possible – Not only does this increase the chances of reducing the smell and waste of litter, but it also ensures that your cat won’t look elsewhere to poop, which is something that you really don’t want it to get in the habit of.
- Dispose of As Soon As Possible – Whenever you go about getting rid of the waste, try to make sure to throw it outside and don't just leave it inside the home. This doesn’t mean that you carelessly place it outdoors, instead, it simply means that you must be responsible and make sure that the smell isn’t finding its way back to your home.
- Disinfect the Box Frequently – Whether you have multiple cats, or your single feline friend uses the litter box more frequently, you want to make sure that you don't go through frequent dumping, disposing, and disinfecting sessions. So irrespective of how independent your cat may be, cleaning their litter box is a close to daily activity. According to the Humane Society of the United States, owners should be cleaning their litter boxes twice every week.
Common Mistakes Made with Litter Boxes
It seems like one of the most common mistakes made by new cat owners is setting up the litter box for their cat, in the wrong place. They get a box, place litter in it, and then expect the cat to use it. However, the cat often runs away scared and uncomfortable due to the poor environment. To be a bit more aware, make sure that you don’t make these following mistakes. Therefore, it is important to read below.
- Place the litter box in an undesired location – While this is further elaborated down below, it is an important point to note. That's because any cat with health issues or a certain level of shyness will surely avoid going to a place that it feels is not right.
- Place the litter box somewhere that is dark – While cats can see much better in the dark than humans can, it is still hard for them to see. This can make them feel uneasy and anxious. So, if the litter box is placed in some dark corner of the house, they will not want to go there. Even if it is somewhere that is comforting or suggested such as the bathroom. So make sure to keep the lights turned on during the night so that they know where to go.
- Covered Boxes – Although this depends on the cat, there are a lot of felines that do not prefer to have a crowded litter box. Anxious creatures by nature, these innately wild animals love to be out in the open. Of course, they love their privacy, but they would not want to feel shut in a place that is meant for them to poop or urinate in.
- Too much or too little litter – As new cat owners, it may be hard to know how much is the right amount when it comes to filling the box up. You just want your cat to feel happy and safe, but instead, you end up causing your feline friend to avoid it in disgust. They need the right amount to dig and bury but having too much also can also lead to the cat feeling like it is drowning in the litter. On top of that, when they are kicking around to dig and bury, this will cause a mess around the area, which makes it harder for you to clean up. It is said that 2-4 inches is the ideal amount of litter.
- Wrong Litter – There is a reason why we have recommended cat litters on this website. It is because just finding any litter for your cat will not do. It needs to be just right for your picky feline friends and as you may already found out, cats are quite picky. So if you are unlucky and happen to own one that is hard to please, finding that perfect litter will be quite a hassle. Things like texture, weight, and scent need to be taken into account while finding the right cat litter.
- High boxes – This is no different from the idea of covered boxes. If the sides are too high for the cat litter box, the cat will definitely feel like they are trapped in a space they wish they were not in. They may also have a hard time climbing out of the litter box if they are a bit old.
- Lack of boxes – If you have more than one cat, then it is imperative to have multiple litter boxes scattered across the home. Otherwise, this creates a huge headache for both the owner and the cat. You need to make sure that there are plenty of places for the cats to defecate since you don’t know which cat is going where.
- Unfamiliarity – Sometimes owners think that their cat may not be using a particular litter box because they don’t like the spot. So, they move and move and move the box everywhere around the house. While it is important to test out different spots, creating unfamiliarity is another huge mistake that the cat owner may make.
Litter Box Training
At the end of the day, cats aren’t magically prone to just enter a litter box and make life easier for you. To ensure some ease in your chores connected with owning a cat, make sure to consider the following steps:
- Find the Right Litter – You can’t just grab any litter and put it in there. It needs to be something that your cat is comfortable with and is not repelled from, in terms of smell. When it comes to scoopable litter, you need to find something that is soft in texture. Also, you need to ensure that whatever you get them doesn’t smell too strong or heavy, since cats have, as mentioned above, quite keen noses.
- Ease them Into It – Don’t force anything. Cats, as wild creatures, need to first sense their environment and only then they go about finding the right place. They need to know that the spot you chose for them is where they are meant to go.
- Have a Spare – It is important to have at least one litter box per cat, however, including an additional spare one is recommended. This will prep-up your home for any pet that needs to use a litter box all the time.
Cats are independent creatures, but they also require attention. This does not mean that you should shower them hugs and kisses all the time. It only means making sure that their environment is clean, and they are in a place they can feel comfortable and at ease. A cat litter box is one way to show this sort of respect, and if you do not go about taking care of its cat litter box needs, it will not consider you to be a reliable cat owner. For this reason, consider some of the options we’ve mentioned above.