Are you a cat parent looking to master the litter box? Most cat owners will agree, a happy home is one with odor control and a great litter box. A cat can not be his best self at home if he is not happy with his elimination surroundings.
First-time cat owner or an experienced one, these tips and highlights will help ensure the cats in your home are content with their space and litter boxes.
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- Cats and healthy litter box habits
- Clean litter boxes equal happy homes
- What Type of Litter Box Is Best?
- Where Should I Place My Litter Box?
- Clump or non-clump litter?
- Cleaning your cat after litter use
- What if my cat doesn't use the litter box?
- Does your litter box pass the test?
- Dig deeper into litter box lessons here:
Cats and healthy litter box habits
With a good litter box habit, cats are probably one of the easiest animals to take care of, because they do not demand extra attention and potty indoors. Healthy litter box habits will help provide a stress-free, welcoming, and safe environment within your home for your cat. When a cat has a constantly positive littering experience, it sets understandable boundaries and expectations for your cat to follow in their daily routines. Cat's love routine.
Clean litter boxes equal happy homes
Cats are very clean animals who like to have their litter pan clean. You can never clean a cat's litter box too often. Certainly, as humans, we don't enjoy doing our business on a dirty toilet! Cat's are extremely sensitive to smell. If you have a hooded litter box, the ammonia odor is trapped in these pans and can be offensive to your cat (and you!).
You should scoop the solid waste daily. Your cat would likely prefer twice daily. Cats have very little tolerance for their previous waste. Once in the morning and once in the evening would be ideal. If you don't provide them a clean and suitable area to relieve themselves, cats will go find a nice pile of clean clothes to do so on.
Above anything else, keeping your cat's box cleaned is the biggest priority.
What Type of Litter Box Is Best?
Larger litter pans
You will need a larger litter pan to accommodate your adult Ragdoll cat. This breed of cat prefers plenty of room to do their business. Since your Ragdoll cat is larger than the average cat, she will also produce larger fecal matter, so you will want to make sure you clean the litter pan twice daily.
Commercial boxes are generally not big enough for large cats and do not make any hooded boxes that are even close to being large enough. So a good substitute is to use storage containers, like ones made by Sterlite or Rubbermaid. The various dimensions and high sides provide a safely enclosed feel and your Ragdoll will not feel cramped.
Disposable litter trays
The real reason that litterboxes or storage totes converted to litterboxes smell, is the type of surface finish on the tooling.
Many storage totes and even litterboxes have a bead or sandblasted finish as the molded texture, and these microscopic pits and peaks trap dried urine.Harold Schuster of the NVR Miss Litterbox
With a disposable litter tray, pits and peaks aren't a problem because you are disposing of the entire tray regularly. The urine is not absorbed into the sides or bottom of the box.
Robot litter boxes
Cat owners who detest the litter scooping or simply find it hard to remember to scoop daily may learn to love an automatic litter box. These little litter-robot scoops away your cat's mess for you, leaving you with an assurance that your cat will always walk into a clean space to do its business.
Every robot litter box is equipped with a waste drawer. You will want to make sure you are emptying it regularly.
I have reviewed several options for automatic litter boxes. You will need to do your research to find out if this setup is the best box option for your cat and your home.
Where Should I Place My Litter Box?
Like any prime real estate, location is key, and the location of the litter box will play an enormous part in your cat's elimination routines and habits. Unlike dogs, cats are much more particular when it comes to waste management and where they will, or will not, do their squatting.
To ensure the best behavior from a kitty, cat owners must grasp the importance the location of the cat's litter box plays.
High-traffic areas are not ideal locations to place your cats' toilets. Cat's don't like being startled or caught off guard. It is difficult for the cat to relax and assess the right spot in the litter box to drop their business if they are having to constantly guard their surroundings.
Quiet areas, away from noise and chaos, will allow your cat to remain calm and focus on what they come there to do.
Away from food
Cat's have a high aversion to relieving themselves anywhere near their food. This tip goes back to your cat's naturally strong nose. If you place your cat's food too close to where is eliminated, your cat will likely stop eating. When you go out to a restaurant you don't like to be seated next to a smelly bathroom, do you? Neither does your cat.
Try to place your kitty's food in one room and her litter box in another. If this isn't possible, separate the two as far apart as you possibly can.
Easy to access
Put your cat boxes where they are easy to get to, for both you and your cat.
If the box is a pain for you to get to, your cat won't want it there either. Not only are you more likely to forget to clean it regularly, but your cat doesn't want to have to maneuver a maze just to go potty.
Keep things simple. Keep it easy.
One per level
If you have more than one level in your home you will want a designated litter box located on every floor. That's right, I just said ONE BOX PER LEVEL!
The best way to consider this one is if you have kids. When a toddler needs to go, they need to go now. They wait for no man and no toilet for that matter. Cat's are like kids. When they need to urinate they will look for the closest, safest, and most convenient place to do so.
It is much nicer for you and your cat to have a familiar and designated littering area on each level. The cat will learn where it should go instead of deciding the closest bedroom is easier.
In plain sight/furniture
Many of us don't like having a litter box out in the open. It can be off-putting to your family or guests when they walk in and a full cat box just off the kitchen. But, we have learned it is important to make sure the tray is easily accessible for both you and your cat.
One option for this problem is hiding your litter box right in plain sight with litter furniture. Nightstands, end tables, cabinets, and cubbies are cleaver areas to incorporate your cat's box into the environment. Yet still keeping it out of sight from unknowing guests.
Companies now offer indoor planters with a hollowed-out space, just for litter boxes!
Clump or non-clump litter?
The different types of litter available on the market are endless. Your options range from non-clumping litter to crystal litter. Your litter preference may not be the same as your cat's.
It is important to consider clumping clay litter for your Ragdoll cat. If the litter does not clump, its removal is difficult and leaves remnants in the box for the cat later on. Un-removed urine soaks into plastic, which is porous, leaving a lasting odor for the life of that box.
NON-clumping litters are very unsanitary and cause many, many cases of elimination issues. Non-clumping litter allows cats to walk in a litter box that is saturated in urine (dry or wet). When urine dries, things are made worse. The only thing that evaporated urine leaves is water because it evaporates. This makes things worse because the uric acid/ammonia is so concentrated.
Whichever litter type you start your cat on is the one they become accustomed to and will prefer the rest of their lives.
Cleaning your cat after litter use
Ragdoll cats are known for their fur. Thick, fluffy, long fur, all the way from their front to their rears, which often gets soiled or matted with fecal waste or urine after movements. Where keeping your cat's rear clean may not be a huge concern for other cat owners, with a Ragdoll, it is a necessity.
Uncleaned rear ends can lead to blockages which may inhibit the cat from eliminating or cause other infection issues. Many long-haired cat lovers choose to keep their cat's rear ends trimmed or shaved. If don't want to trim your cat, you can find my best solutions for cleaning poop off cat fur here.
What if my cat doesn't use the litter box?
You've followed all the instructions above. Your cat's litter box is clean, quiet, easy to access, and clump-free. However, for some reason, your cat keeps peeing on your bed. Or, your cat pops into his litter box only to toss some litter around and hop right back out without doing his business. What's the deal?
When you notice situations like this, your cat is trying to tell you something. It isn't uncommon for cats to communicate that something may be off for them when they are avoiding their litter boxes. Here are a few things your cat may be trying to tell you if you two are having a battle over your box situation recently.
- Did you just move?
- Did you get another pet?
- Are you starting a new schedule?
- New baby?
- If you have changed things up in your home in the last month and noticed your cat is peeing everywhere except her box, she may be trying to tell you she doesn't like the change. It may take a bit for your cat to readjust.
- A medical condition often is diagnosed after pet owners notice their cat not using the litter box like it once did. After adjusting all options on this list and your cat refuses to use their box, a bladder infection or other medical concern may need attention. Take your cat to visit his veterinarian.
- Cat's get anxiety too. They do not like new situations, loud noises, unwanted guests, among many other things.
- Try moving your cat's litter box to a secluded area of the house and give your cat a little time to decompress.
- Often, cats will attempt to assert their dominance or mark territory by eliminating within an unwanted area.
- A veterinary behaviorist can assist with determining particular reasoning as to why your cat may be unexpectedly starting this habit.
- More often or not, your cat is unhappy with a new living arrangement.
- With how the cats like to hide and sneak around, you may not think they can get claustrophobic, but they can.
- Some cats don't enjoy a covered litter box with a hood.
- An open litter pan may be the solution in this case.
- Cat's are very aware. Often a cat will know of your presence before you know of theirs.
- Not all cats enjoy an audience while they do their business.
- Try moving the box and see if you notice better results.
Too many kitties for the box
- You should have one litter pan per cat.
- You need two pans for two or more cats.
- Cat bury their poop to mark their territory.
- Multiple cats with one box could be a problem when sharing space.
- Your litter pans preference may vary depending on the individual cat.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in cats generally stems from anxiety.
- OCD habits can surface unexpectedly when a cat has had trauma.
- If your cat engages in repetitive or exaggerated behaviors, you will want to visit your vet.
- NO ODOR should be present in a litter box.
- Use clumping litter so that ALL urine and ALL feces can be removed and there will not be an odor issue.
- Once again, avoid fragranced litter. Cats are opposed to overpowering aromas.
- If your cat doesn't want to enter the box or avoid placing paws on the litter, change up the litter.
- Cats' paws have nerve sensors, if the texture of a cat's litter is not to its liking, the cat won't touch it.
Too much litter
- A great indicator you may have too much litter in the box is if your cat continuously keeps throwing it out.
- Are you cleaning the box enough?
- A cat on a proper diet of moisture-rich canned food will often pee AT LEAST 3 x/day.
- 1 cat with 1 box will have AT LEAST 21 urinations in that box before you flush his toilet, i.e. clean his litter pan before you dump that litter pan at the end of 1 week.
- Dr. Pierson shares a great perspective on how cats interpret an uncleaned litter box.
Does your litter box pass the test?
Cats are clever creatures. If something about their litter box is not up to par, they will quickly let you know. Your cat is continuously communicating with you. He wants to be just as comfortable, understood, and happy in his home as you do.
Make sure you are checking in on your cat's litter habits regularly. You may need to adjust things from time to time. A clean and accommodating litter box is the right first step for a comfortable house cat.