This article is brought to you in parternship with Luuup
One of the most common problems that a cat owner can face is also one of the most frustrating—and smelly. Issues with eliminating (bathroom activities) outside of the litter box can be a huge source of both stress and resentment towards your cat. In fact, a study done by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association shows that around 1 in 4 cats surrendered to a shelter had a history of elimination problems. Also, the most common behavioural reason cited by owners for relinquishing their cat is inappropriate elimination. According to the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, that number is an incredible 43.2%.
Many owners feel hopeless in this situation but there’s no need! Making a few slight changes to the environment can improve and even fix the problem for good, resulting in a happier cat and a happier you.
Firstly, with any elimination problems or change in litter box behaviour, always take your cat to the vet right away to check for infections or any other medical problems. These issues have the potential to progress quickly and can even be life threatening.
1) Keep it Clean!
It may sound obvious, but sometimes the problem can be solved by simply keeping the litter clean. However, each cat has a different standard of clean. Some cats don’t mind a little bit of mess and odour, but others won’t go near a litter box that has even been lightly used. They will often stop covering their ‘business’ and will start going right next to the box or in other locations. Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell and if the scent is too overwhelming for them, they will go elsewhere to eliminate. It is recommended that cat owners change the litter once or twice daily. This chore can be unwieldy, messy and downright unpleasant. If scooping the poop is really not your thing, check out the stylish 3-tray system from Luuup. You just lift the top tray to sift and separate the mess from the clean litter.
Cats are creatures of habit so even a change as small as a new brand of litter could throw off their bathroom routine. A change in smell, appearance, and particularly texture can put them off using the box at all. If you have to change up the litter, try to introduce it gradually—slowly start mixing the new litter with the old and increase the ratio of the new litter over a period of a few weeks. You could also test a new litter by offering a choice between two boxes; one using the old litter and one to introduce the new. Your cat will make their choice clear by which box is used more.
2) Make it Easy!
You don’t like to use the bathroom in a noisy or hard to reach place, so why would your cat! Cats may develop poor litter box behaviour if the box is in a loud or busy area – like the laundry room – as they may become startled by sudden sounds and choose to go elsewhere. Also, make sure that the route to the litter box is both convenient and comfortable. For example, if your cat is getting up there in years, don’t keep the box up any steps.
3) 1 Litter Box Per Cat + 1 Extra!
In multi-cat households, the alpha cat could also deter any other cats from using the litter box if they mark it as their domain. The easiest way to remedy this is to make sure there are more than one ways to get to the box (not in a corner) and by having multiple boxes. It is considered a general rule that there should be one per cat plus an extra, as most cats dislike sharing a litter box. They prefer to go in secret and hide their eliminations from predators. Place the boxes in separate areas as to avoid territorial disputes and to create privacy. To help solve the multi-cat-multi-box problem, you can, for a limited time only, purchase two Luuup litter trays and get the third one free!
4) Understand that Every Cat is Different!
Us humans desire complete privacy for our bathroom needs and it is understandable to want the same thing for our cats. However, not all cats are a fan of the covered litter box and they could cause more problems than they solve. Like any creature, instinct tells them they are at their most vulnerable when doing their business and they have the intrinsic desire to see what is going on around them. By leaving the box uncovered, you cat can clearly see an escape route in the event of a perceived threat. As every cat is different, some are the exception to this rule and see a covered box as a sanctuary. If your cat has a need for privacy, you’re in luck! Luuup will soon be releasing covers for their 3-tray system. Sign up to their email list here to be the first to know when!
You know your cat better than anyone, and by making an effort to understand the reasons behind the behavioural issues (such as improper elimination), you can help prevent these actions from developing into a long-lasting and damaging habit. By respecting your cat’s routine and needs, you can work together to help keep the mess where it belongs, in the box!