Wednesday, February 2, 2011

OK kitty....let's figure this out.

"Neither Rain, nor Sleet, nor Gloom of Night......."  So, it was just me and the postman out there today.

I travelled by foot to cat-sit because the roads were such a mess after the snow-storm. I think I scared the cat-nip out of them when I walked in with the hood on (fake fur, btw) but they soon knew it was me. Treats always fix any problem. So, I've had my exercise for the day and they are all comfy cats.
I apologize for the following post because it is so wordy but if you are having litter-box problems with your cat,  stay with me and read on.

Cat-tip-for-the-day - handling inappropriate behavior
When it comes to cats, elimination, scratching, jumping and aggression are normal behaviours. With that in mind, it is inappropriate to punish a cat for engaging in them. Punishing your cat may reinforce this unwanted behaviour because you are paying a lot of attention to the bad behaviour and your cat may think, "I want attention; if I eliminate over here, I'll get it." Also you can break the bond with a cat that you are screaming at all the time. I have found that the most often asked questions from my cat-sitting clients deals with inappropriate litter box behaviour. First and foremost, have your cat checked over by your veterinarion to see if it is a medical condition. It could be a bladder infection that is causing the cat to eliminate outside the box, for instance. After that, if your healthy cat continues to behave inappropriately, behaviour modification is to retrain the way your cat thinks. First, be sure that the litter box is clean.  Is the location right? It has to be in a place that is quiet, easy to get to and not next to something that can suddenly make a lot of noise, like a washing machine. It should not be wedged into a corner where it is hard for the cat to get into or if your cat is on the large size, do not use a covered box that the cat feels uncomfortable trying to get into and out of. Also, if you have multiple cats and there is one that is dominant, your shy one may not want to feel trapped in a covered litter box in case the dominant one becomes aggressive. If you have recently changed your litter to one that has a lot of chemicals in it to keep down the smell, some cats cannot stand the smell of it. I have to agree with them on this one. Even as an owner, I have found some litters to be very offensive with too much added chemicals and fragrances. I buy plain litter and add baking soda and it works great.

I can't stress enough how screaming and hitting a cat that pee's on the floor or the carpet will cause adverse results. Your cat will become afraid of you and very stressed around you and the problem will get worse. After cleaning the spots thoroughly where your cat inappropriately eliminated,  I suggest you try the following:

Limit the cat to one room (spare bedroom would work) that has it's food and water on one side, clean litter box on the other and lots of toys and blankets and window perches and so on to make the cat feel very comfy. Making the cat's world smaller will possibly take it's mind off the inappropriate behaviour and start fresh. You will have to put time aside to spend with the cat by adding a chair for reading  or TV to the room so the cat still has time with you but the cat is not to roam the house for 3 days. After 3 days of using its' litter box properly, let the cat roam the house while you are home but when you are away the cat returns to its room. If the cat eliminates inappropriately in the house after 3 days, start again. I have seen this work and I suggest trying it. It has saved many cats from being 'given up' to shelters. Your cat depends on you to help it through this confusing time in its' life.

The above are just some of the reasons cat's behave inappropriately. I hope these suggestions work for you if you are struggling with this problem. Remember, give the cat lots of love and attention while trying to figure out the answer.
Hugs, Deb


  1. That's good advice, Deb. I had to use a litter tray when Candy had kidney failure. She had not used a tray since she was a kitten, but she became too weak to go outside. I used wood chip litter, but once I had to use the absorbent clay type, and she started eating it! The vet said it's quite common with kidney failure cats, but obviously I replaced it straight away.

  2. You are a cat-trooper! Good for you going out to take care of the kitties. I agree with everything you have said here, I have never had any problems with cats and litter boxes, they are so smart! :D

  3. I am so glad you got out to visit your cat clients and got back home safely. Great advice!

  4. It's Nanook Of The North!!! lol I love it!

    Great advice....I pray I never have the misfortune of EVER meeting someone who would hit a cat....I found a simple "No" works wonders

  5. Dear Deb,
    Thank so much for this post. All of your information help me to check out my mom's job . Surprise me ! she has done all what you said : )

  6. Beautiful picture of you bundled up..... you're such a good and faithful cat sitter.

    Thankfully our cat always uses her litter box, and hopefully she'll continue.