Last week, I got the following e-mail from a new Floppycats.com reader, Susan:
“I am relocating from South Africa to Switzerland in October and Sally, my 13-year old kitty, is coming along. She has been an outdoor cat all her life and will become an indoor cat now, with a nice balcony though. I am a little nervous and do not know exactly how it will all work out for her being indoor. She also doesn’t use a litter tray (wants to play in it rather than doing what she has to do). Do you have any advice on how to handle the indoor & litter tray situation? How I should go about? Books and newsletters I’ve read in the past tend to spend very little on training/relocating of cats at different ages.”
That was a first for me! I had not thought of an older cat needing to be litter box trained! This is how I replied:
“I am far from an expert on this, nor do I know for sure what to do. But this is what I would try. I would find her feces outside and bring it in and put it in the litter box, while you are still in South Africa and if you can get bits of her urine too – that way she will associate it with a place to go. What kind of litter do you have in their now? Maybe try and find a litter that is most like the soil in South Africa that she likes to go in. In other words, scented litters aren’t going to be ideal – but try to find a non-scented and similar texture to the South African soil.
You might mix litter with outside dirt. For example, when you switch litter brands, they recommend doing this:
Week 1 – 25% new litter, 75% old litter
Week 2 – 50% new litter, 50% old litter
Week 3 – 75% new litter, 25% old litter
Week 4 – 100% new litter
So instead of doing that with litter, I wonder if you could do that with soil – soil from where she goes the bathroom the most.”
I asked Susan a bit more about Sally and she said, “I adopted Sally when she was about 5 years old because the previous owners didn’t allow her inside their house and that was unacceptable to me being an animal lover. However she loves being outside and she has a window where she goes in and out all the time. She sleeps (every night) and spend lots of time with me inside but loves to be outside in the garden most of the day (it is a huge garden with lots of trees). I have once, during winter time while it was raining very hard, scooped some soil in a litter tray cause I didn’t want her to go outside but all she wanted to do was play when I showed her the tray with the soil. The window is always open for her so she can go outside. She also goes outside when we have thunder and hard rain .. she doesn’t like that and wants to go outside then. The idea of putting her feces and maybe some urine in the soil in a litter tray and starting to “train” her now sounds like a good idea. I am definitely going to give it a try 🙂 I think I should maybe contact an anmial behaviourist in our area and ask.”
So, I asked Susan if I could post our e-mail correspondence because I wanted to know if you guys had any more ideas. What would you do if you owned Sally and needed to train her to use a litter box? Or where would you go to learn how to litter train cat?