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To prevent inappropriate elimination issues in our feline friends, we should try our best to set them up for success. Placing litter boxes in quiet, easily accessible, low traffic areas and scooping them daily is a great place to start.  If your cat urinates or defecates outside the litter box, please call us at 414-962-6662 to schedule an appointment. If the problem isn't due to a medical condition such as a urinary tract infection, it's time to evaluate your litter box set-up against the guidelines below.

Guidelines for Litter Box Success

A. Do you have enough litter boxes in the house?

  • You should have one more litter box than the total number of cats in your household.  Example:  If you have 1 cat, you should have 2 litter boxes.  If you have 2 cats, you should have 3 litter boxes...

B. How often do you scoop/clean the litter boxes?

  • Fecal material and urine clumps should be removed daily. For particularly sensitive cats, you may need to scoop twice daily.

  • The litter should be changed completely and the litter box should be washed monthly. When washing the boxes try to use a mildly scented or unscented cleaner. Cat's noses are much more sensitive than ours and they don't like the scent of cleaning solutions.

C. Where are the litter boxes located?

  • If you have multiple litter boxes, they should not be located right next to each other. 3 litter boxes side by side is equivalent to 1 large litter box

  • If you have multiple floors, you should have one on each level of the house. Senior cats especially have difficulty traversing long distances to make the litter box in time.

  • Make sure they are not in a high traffic or loud area of the house.

  • Locate away from loud appliances like washers, dryers, sump pumps and furnaces.

  • If you have an older kitty, remember accessibility is key. As a young cat, trekking down to the basement may not have been a problem but now that he is a senior his arthritis might be preventing him from making the trip comfortably.

D. What kind of litter boxes do you have?

  • Most cats prefer large, uncovered boxes, but some have various preferences between uncovered or covered, low sided or high sided, automatic cleaning, etc. You may need to try different kinds until you find one your cat likes.

  • Most cats dislike the feel and sound of cat pan liners, try to avoid if possible.

E. What kind of litter do you use?

  • Most cats prefer unscented litter. There are many different types and textures of cat litter, including clay, recycled newspaper, and wheat. Try different kinds until you find one your cat likes. Keep in mind, switching brands and types suddenly can cause stress as well. Once you find something that works, stick to it!

F. How old are the litter boxes?

  • Litter boxes that are stained or still retain a foul odor after being cleaned may need to be replaced. The antimicrobial lining on most boxes breaks down over time, although with gentle care they can last several years. Once staining occurs though, it is a sign this barrier is breaking down and the plastic is retaining bacteria that cats find repugnant. It is similar to using an old porta-potty that has been sitting in the sun for a long time; even though it has been emptied the plastic walls retain that "off" smell. Gross!

Recommended Book: The Fastidious Feline: How to Prevent and Treat Litter Box Problems by Patricia McConnell, PhD (available for sale in our lobby).

If you are still having litter box problems, please call us at 414-962-6662 for further guidance.

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