Can We Talk about the Litter box?
It is super important to meet your cat’s needs when it comes to the litter box. In many ways it is similar to what you expect from your own bathroom experience. Let me first emphasize that if there are changes in your cat’s bowel movements or urination, especially in frequency, or quantity please consult a veterinarian. If your cat begins to go outside the litter box when there have been no changes made to the box, this is also a time to visit your veterinarian and discuss the change in behavior. After your cat is given a clean bill of health, it is time to think about the box.
10 Reasons Your Cat Might Be Going Outside the Box
- Your cat needs a check up with your veterinarian. After illness is ruled out, check out the other 10 possible causes.
- The box smells terrible! Do you know how you feel when you go to a public restroom and it is all pee-yew in there? Get a new box when the old one gets too smelly.
- The box smells like a chemical factory! You will get an A for effort if you scrub out the litter box to make sure it is clean and tidy, but if you use harsh smelly chemicals your cat won’t want to visit the box. Remember, we cats have sensitive noses and if it smells like a chemical waste dump, we won’t be depositing there. Soap and water will work just fine. Avoid the ammonia and citrus smelling cleaners.
- The box is too small! I like to be able to move my tail freely around in my boxes. If it is too small I get claustrophobic. Make sure your litter box is plenty big enough for your cat to move around in and bury their business.
- One Box per Cat Plus One! If you have one cat, you might try to have two boxes. If you have two cats, three boxes. I am one cat and I have two boxes at all times and sometimes a third box when I am testing out a litter or box.
- Box is in a bad location! Remember, just like you, we would like a little privacy. But also remember we need to be able to make a fast getaway too.
- You are not a frequent scooper! Do you like to relieve yourself on top of your last elimination? Do you get my drift? Scoop on schedule. Scoop often. Scoop every time you pass by the box. The more the better.
- You changed the litter! We cats are creatures of habit. We understand, well not really, but we tolerate when certain changes must be made. Please test out a new litter first. Place a new box with the new litter out along side the older established box. Let us decide if the new litter is acceptable.
- Too much litter in the box! That sinking feeling is not one that we cats like. You might think the more the better but sometimes less is better. Most cats prefer litter less than 2 inches deep. However, see number 10.
- Not enough litter in the box! We like to bury our poo to hide our scent from predators. It is a part of our self-protecting instinct from our wild ancestors. Make sure there is enough litter for us to cover up our poo if we so choose.*
*Cats Have a History of Burying Their Waste.
In the wild, the big cats, (Panthera genus), such as lions, tigers , leopards and jaguars often do not bury their excrement as a way of signaling they are claiming a certain territory. Smaller, weaker or more submissive wild cats bury their feces as a way of making sure the bigger cats do not feel challenged. Wild cats will also hide their waste to avoid attracting unwanted attention from predators to themselves especially when they have young cubs or kittens .
Cat poo may all smell the same to you, but cats can tell their waste apart due to scent markers called pheromones present in the urine and feces. Your cat may or may not feel the need to bury their poo within the home. But remember, cats like to keep their options open, so providing clean litter boxes with the right amount of litter, in the right location will lead to a better box experience for everyone.