Thursday, June 25, 2009

Solving Litterbox Aversions and House Soiling

Is your cat not using the litterbox appropriately?

For many people, cats are the perfect pet. Owners enjoy the cat’s sense of independence yet appreciate the cat’s affection as well. But, a common behavioral problem can often break-up this happy relationship. We see these types of issues all of the time at the Scottsdale Cat Clinic.

Housesoiling is one of the leading reasons for owners to relinquish their cats to shelters. Sadly, some owners go as far as to banish the cat from the household or even euthanize their pet.

This undesirable behavior has three main causes:

1. Primary medical diseases that affect urgency
2. Quantity or frequency or urination, urine marking
3. Litter box issues

These behaviors are not mutually exclusive and one cause can lead to the other. As with many pet behaviors, a thorough history and physical examination by a veterinarian are essential.

Litter box rejection has many causes. Although having the right type of litter for your cat is important, aggression from other cat can cause housesoiling. Also the placement of a litter box can impact usage. (i.e. close to a noisy washing machine or near the dog’s kennel).

Cat species ancestral to our domestic cats developed a preference for using desert sand for elimination. This preference has persisted as today our cats prefer a finely granular sand-like material.

Many materials are used as cat litter including: corn, wheat, paper and various clay products. It is important to remember that the best litter is one that cat likes, provides odor control and minimizes dust.

Fragrances added to litters have been used to help mask waste odors. Cats odor preferences are not well established but recent studies suggest that citrus scents are aversive to cats and cats are attracted to fish, cedar and bleach scents.

If you are using a scented litter and your cat is not using the litter box, switch to an unscented litter.

Studieshave shown that cats preferentially use litters with activated charcoal over litters with sodium bicarbonate, implying that the carbon provides superior odor control.

Some people believe that the size of the litter box has an impact on whether or not the cat will use it. Cats tend to prefer a larger box. Most cats seem to prefer a clumping litter with activated carbon. If fragrances are used, consider cedar.

To keep your cat happy in his litter box habits, be sure to scoop the box daily and routinely wash the box to help reduce any residual odors.

For housesoiling spots use enzyme acting stain and odor removers to completely clean up and remove odors.

For additional information on inappropriate house soiling please contact the Scottsdale Cat Clinic at (480)-970-1175 or email us at

No comments: