Cat Litter Training
Getting Kittens Started
Cats and kittens are not small dogs, so the idea of "litter training" cats the same way you housebreak a dog doesn't work. Kittens will naturally seek a place to dig but you can help them be consistent. The first thing to do with kittens is to provide accessible litter boxes. Kittens don't have the "control" of mature cats and need to have litter boxes near by to avoid traveling too far. After feeding time, it is a good idea to place your kitten into a litter box. Kittens have a natural elimination reflex after eating. By putting them in a litter box, they associate the box with the reflex.
You should also create easy access for kittens by placing a step up until they are large enough to be able get in the box easily by themselves. The right litter is also essential for kittens. Cat Attract™ is ideal because it has the right texture for their paws and a
natural chlorophyll scent cats like. Avoid using perfumed or cedar-based litters with
your new kitten, as many kittens find them aversive.
Understanding The Problem Cat
A problem cat is one who chooses not to use its litter box. There are three likely causes: medical ailments, territorial marking, or behavioral issues. Knowing which category your cat fits in is only a first step toward solving the problem. Cats are creatures of habit, and will repeatedly soil the same spot. In other words, a litter box problem that began with a urinary tract infection may continue due to habit long after the infection has been cured. Whatever the cause, it is important to treat problem cats with both behavior modification and stress reduction techniques.
Only one sixth of cats with urinary problems go outside the litter box. However, blood in the urine, increased frequency of urination, small, hard stools, and loose movements are signs of medical trouble that could lead to litter box problems. See your veterinarian to help evaluate your cat's health, and recommend treatment if there is a medical problem.
Spraying, or marking territory with urine, is a natural behavior for both male and female cats. It is a form of communication, and should not be confused with ordinary urination outside of the litter box. Spraying usually involves just a small amount of urine and occurs on walls, furniture, the floor, or, occasionally, the owner's clothes or bedding. A cat that is marking on the floor will leave just a small amount of urine. It will not turn around to sniff and paw at the area, as is the case in urination. It will just walk away after marking. A trail of urine on the floor means the cat was standing to spray and not squatting to urinate.
You can help diminish your cat's need to spray by creating "friendly zones" by using your cat's own pheromones or Feliway™, a synthetic feline pheromone available in many stores. To use your cat's pheromones, rub a soft cloth between your cat's eye and ear. Wipe the cloth on the soiled area repeatedly over several weeks. This tells your cat this is a "friendly zone" and diminishes its need to mark the area. Follow the product's directions, spraying it on the soiled areas several times for a month. Also, use it on high-risk areas like the edge of a sofa or on walls. Place scratching posts in areas that are marked so the cat will mark with the scent off its pads and not with urine.
Cats may also mark their territory with feces. Signs of this type of territorial marking include defecation in a very conspicuous and unusual spot, such as on top of a table.
Your veterinarian can also help you by prescribing various drugs to reduce marking. You may want your cat to have a complete physical examination to rule out any other problems.
This category includes everything from box rejection (a cat who does not care for your choice of litter) and location preference (the cat who uses an out of the way closet instead of its box) to stress-induced soiling (often related to changes or upheaval in the household). Since all litter box problems are in some sense behavioral, these techniques make a good starting point for solving any problem. Be attentive, flexible, and above all, patient. With your help, your cat can, and will, learn to "think inside the box."
Special Concerns - The Real Tough Case
For the cat that consistently soils in the same spot, try placing a litter box with Cat Attract'" in the "trouble spot" for a period of 10 to 14 days. After this initial phase, move the box an
inch or two each day toward the place where you would like it to be. This method takes a lot of time and patience, but it may be an answer.
Alternatively, confine your cat for at least one month to a room that has not been soiled in the past. Provide a litter box filled with Cat Attract™ along with food, water, and an elevated hideaway. After a month, the cat should be consistently using its litter box and you can expand its territory to include two rooms, then three, and so on. Over time, most cats respond to this treatment, and can eventually be trusted to roam the house. Some, however, require a more rigorous treatment: Confine the cat to a large cage or pet carrier. Cover the entire floor of the carrier with litter. Create a small bed and a spot for water and food at one end. This will force your cat to use the litter. Over time, reduce the amount of litter in the carrier, so that the litter only covers a portion of the floor. Once the cat is consistently using only the litter-covered area in the carrier, bring it out into the room and proceed with the one-room confinement treatment outlined above.
Whichever treatment you choose, you are most likely to succeed using Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract'". Cat Attract's unique combination of scoopable litter and natural herbs will help your cat overcome resistance to other litters that may discourage use.
Senior cats may need special help getting in and out of the box. Create a ramp to make it easier for them. For these cats, set up extra boxes on every level of your house.
Bringing an Outdoor Cat Indoors
A cat that is used to prowling outdoors may need help adjusting to life inside. Try mixing a few spoonsful of dirt from its "favorite place" in with Cat Attract™. Your cat will be attracted to the box by the familiar scent. Here again, the use of Feliway will help create a sense of familiarity for your cat and reduce stress.
Welcoming a New Cat
The addition of a new cat may cause feline stress and litter box problems. Make introductions slowly, confining the new cat to its own room for a couple of weeks. Use Feliway in both rooms to create a calming effect for both cats. Sniffing and swatting under the door will acquaint the cats. When they finally meet face to face, you should expect tension or conflict for a couple of weeks before they settle down.
To speed the process, try wiping each cat's fur with a separate towel daily. Then place each cat's food dish on top of the other cat's towel. They will associate each other's scent with the
positive experience of being fed, and grow tolerant of each other quickly. Make sure each cat has easy access to its own safe, elevated hideaway, and give each of them equal love and attention. Of course, remember if you have multiple cats, have one more litter box than you have cats in your household.
Moving to a New Home
Cats can be traumatized during a move to a new environment. To prevent spraying and other stress-related litter box problems, help your cat feel secure in its new home. Confine it to one room for a couple of weeks, so that it car acclimate to the new area without becoming overwhelmed. Equip the room with all of the comforts of home... a large litter box, a bed, food, water, and an elevated hiding spot. Be sure to spend extra time every day playing with your cat during this difficult time. You might also "prep" the new home with Feliway™ adding friendly pheromones to the new environment. Feliway is excellent for calming cats in stressful situations such as moving in or transporting to a veterinarian.
Because You Love Your Cat...
1. Neuter your cat. Neutering minimizes a variety of behavioral problems for both male and female cats, and eliminates the risk of unwanted kittens. It is the right thing to do.
2. Take your cat to your veterinarian for regular shots and check-ups. Even a healthy adult cat should make a visit once a year. Kittens and older cats require more frequent check-ups.
3. Your veterinarian may recommend that you feed your house-soiling kitty canned food. Your cat will consume twice the amount of total water in a day eating canned food than when eating dry cat food and it may be beneficial for better urinary tract health. Make the switch slowly, starting with just a tablespoon morning and evening and then gradually increase the amount over a two-week period. This will give your kitty's digestive system time to adjust.
4. Protect your cat from household hazards.
• Avoid allowing cats to play with string or yarn. Cats have tiny barbs on their tongues that make it difficult for them to spit out a piece of string. If swallowed, the string may cause intestinal problems.
• Use caution with reclining chairs and garage doors; either of these can easily crush and kill a cat.
• Discourage play with electrical cords.
Many houseplants, such as Easter lilies, are toxic to cats. To keep your cat away, spray the plant with water, and sprinkle its leaves with powdered ginger.
Some household products, like Tylenol, Advil, and antifreeze, are harmful to cats. A lethal dose of antifreeze can come from a cat walking through a spill and licking its paws.