Sometimes we get queries that relate to litter box problems. There are reasons that your cats’ litter training goes down the toilet and 90% of the time it is behavioural or environmental. We look at the ‘trouble with toileting’ in this article.
Thank you to Jacqueline Ludick of Muggleborns Sphynx for allowing us to publish her enlightening article.
Your cat’s litter box problems may not be your favourite subject, but it’s one you’re likely to be more than familiar with. Still, do you know why your pet might like to do her business in strange places? Our expert gets to the bottom of some perplexing litter box problems.
Your cat’s toilet habits can be confusing, and might even cause quite a stink (both figuratively and literally). Some cats insist on leaving ‘gifts’ for their owners, often in unwelcome spots, while others may suddenly stop burying their faeces and a certain few need the utmost privacy to go at all.
Four-year-old rescue cat Salty recently decided to swap his litter tray for a beanbag in an upstairs bedroom, leaving owner Mike Booth flummoxed. ‘He’s been settling in well but suddenly he’s started going on the beanbag, as well as on duvets and the bathroom mat.’
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, a toilet-trained cat soiling indoors (outside the litter tray) is not being deliberately naughty or sending a message. According to the experts at International Cat Care: ‘This is not a dirty protest. Your cat isn’t seeking revenge or making a point; something has gone wrong in her world and a certain amount of detective work is required to find out what.’
There are many reasons why this type of behaviour could be going on, explains Huw Stacey, a veterinary behaviourist and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets. ‘Some cats are really pernickety. It could be that the litter tray isn’t clean enough for them, or it might be that they don’t like the litter – or even the tray itself.
‘On the other hand, your cat might not like the location of her litter tray. If it’s somewhere exposed where she might feel vulnerable, for example near the cat flap or in easy access of a dog or children, she might look for somewhere a bit quieter to do her business instead.’
In retrospect, the Booths have now realised Salty’s toilet behaviour is probably down to the presence of noisy builders, who have just started remodelling the kitchen. They’ve now moved his litter tray upstairs. ‘Noise can be an issue,’ agrees Huw. ‘Taking cats out of their routine, or introducing new sights and smells into your home, can cause stress and anxiety.’
The surfaces Salty chose were not random either. ‘Cats have evolved to like substrates that they can dig into, such as soil or sand, to do their poos,’ Huw explains. ‘Materials like duvets, sleeping bags or a fabric beanbag suit that need just as well.’
What’s going on outside the house can also lead to accidents within it. A recent study that followed cats via miniature cameras and GPS trackers, discovered that they intentionally foul neighbouring gardens to mark the edge of what they consider to be their territory.
‘While most cats like to bury their business, a pet pooing somewhere very visible is called “middening”,’ says Huw. ‘It sends out a territorial signal to other animals in the area. And to make that signal as effective as possible, cats choose to put it somewhere obvious.’
A new, aggressive cat marking its territory in the neighbourhood could make your pet reluctant to go outside to do her business, and she may in turn choose places such as your bed or pillow because these smell like you and are therefore comfortingly familiar.
Keep track of litter box problems
‘If accidents persist, it’s important to have your cat checked over by your vet,’ Huw advises. ‘What may look like a behavioural issue could actually be caused by an underlying medical problem. For example, if your cat has a urinary tract problem and it hurts when she pees in the tray, she may start to associate this pain with the tray and no longer want to use it.’
While cleaning up and examining your cat’s poo is no one’s idea of fun, it does pay to keep track of her toileting habits. If she seems to go more often, or not as often as she once used to, or if there’s a change in the consistency of her poos that lasts more than two or three days, speak to your vet straight away.
LITTER BOX OPTIONS
There are many different types of litter boxes: open, closed, round, rectangular, square, corner, self-cleaning, small – extra large, deep, shallow… the list goes on. We personally love these various options for litter boxes from VALEMOUNT TRADING. There is another query we have had recently that we never actually thought about before. If we insist on feeding our cats on stainless steel or ceramic bowls to prevent bacteria spread on plastic, why are we using plastic litter boxes? Perhaps it’s time we looked into stainless steel options that are more hygienic for our cats and are easier to clean.
There are many different types of litter: gravel, clumping, maize-based, organic, wood pellets, sand, silicone crystal… the list goes on and on and on. Finding the right litter for your cat may be more of a trial and error experience than we originally thought. Your cat’s litter box problems may not stem from the box, environmental upsets, stress or change of location at all! We have a kitten that refuses point blank to use anything other than sand gravel litter varieties. She refuses to use anything else and even with extensive crate training, much preferred to use her bedding than other types of litter.
If you have exhausted all medical options for your cat’s litter box problems and need help with getting to the bottom of it, contact Sarah-Jane Farrell from www.sarahjanefarrell.com.
Sarah-Jane Farrell is an animal wellness and communication guru, nervous system specialist and therapeutic coach who helps animals, and their human friends release their deepest traumas, allowing them to heal from and overcome chronic mental, physical, and emotional conditions. Sarah-Jane also has the ability to communicate with animals and helps people understand their pets’ psychological states and “feelings”, assisting in finding lost pets, body scanning for medical reasons and provide guidance and tools to assist with animal behaviour.
Through her healing “Trust Process” innate to us, as both predator and prey, animals teach us how to be present. Animals show us the way to reconnect with our true nature where you have come from and where you need to go, with COMPASSION and SELF LOVE.