Are you wondering how to set up a litter box for your new cat? You’d be surprised just how important a decision this can be for a cat parent. Whether you’ve recently brought home a kitten or you’ve had a feline friend for years, the litter box is critical to not only your cat’s happiness but yours as well.
Here’s a look at why a cat litter box needs to be placed in the right area of your home and cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. You’ll also learn why a cat will sometimes “miss” a litter box, and what to do if this happens to your pet.
How To Set Up A Litter Box That Your Cat Will Love: Tips To Give The Litter A Major Makeover
You may not realize just how important the litter box is to your cat. Put yourself in their position for a minute. Would you want to have to use a cramped, uncomfortable spot every time you needed to go to the bathroom? Your cat doesn’t want to do that either.
The size of the litter box should be big enough for your cat to easily fit inside and still have some room to move. They shouldn’t ever have to step out of the box in order to cover their “business,” and they shouldn’t have to step on anything they may have deposited earlier.1
Look for a litter box that’s about as long as your cat, from the tip of their head to the end of their extended tail. It should be as wide as the tip of your cat’s head to the base of their (not extended) tail. Also, be careful when buying an automatic litter box. Some models make noises that can scare a cat so bad they will refuse to use them.2
How many litter boxes should you have in your home? You might think that one box would be fine for one cat, but that’s not necessarily the case. A good rule of thumb is to have one more box than the number of cats you have. Having multiple litter boxes will ensure your pet has their own space. This may help reduce the chances of unwanted accidents.3
What Kind Of Cat Litter Is Best?
The type of cat litter you choose is just as important as the box it will go in, whether you have one cat or multiple cats. When you go to the pet store, you’ll see a lot of different types. You’ll see clumping litter, scented litter, clay litter, and several others.
Some cats prefer a type of litter that has small grains, such as clumping litter. Since no one can ask a cat why this is the case, the best guess is that smaller grains simply feel better to a cat’s paws. Regardless of the type of litter you use, if your cat likes it, stay with that brand if all possible. If you switch it out, your cat might not want to use the litter box.4
Cat Litter Box Location Is Important: Remember These Kitty Litter Rules
So, now that you’ve found a good litter box as well as litter, the next step will be figuring out the best place to place the box. Here are a few tips to help you determine the best location.
- The box needs to be easily accessed. Make sure your cat has at least two ways to get to it. If it can be blocked by a door or even another pet, the cat may look for someplace else to go to the bathroom. Put the boxes in different spots of your home to maximize privacy.
- Also, try to place the boxes in areas where there is good airflow. If you try placing a cat litter tray in a small spot, like near a cupboard or your basement, that could create too strong of an odor. That, in turn, could make your cat want to “go” elsewhere.
- Keep the boxes away from areas that have a lot of foot traffic. If too many people or other pets are around, that will make it an uncomfortable environment.5
Why Do Some Cats Start Missing The Litter box?
Unfortunately, there are some instances where a cat will miss the litter box. This can cause a lot of frustration for a cat parent. But as bad as that frustration can be, the scenario can often be even worse for the pet. Many cats are abandoned or dropped off at shelters every year because they stopped using the litter box.6
So, why does this happen? Sometimes, it’s a behavioral issue. You might not have cleaned the box thoroughly enough, or there aren’t enough boxes in your home. The box could be too small, or it might be hard to access. You might, for example, have an older cat who can no longer climb into the box.7
There’s a chance the cat simply doesn’t like the spot where you put their box. They’ll let you know by going where they shouldn’t.8This should never be a reason to give your beloved pet away. If you need help correcting your cat’s bathroom habits, talk to your vet right away.
Can Missing The Litterbox Be A Sign Of A Health Issue?
There are other instances where a cat missing the litter box is anything but a behavioral problem. It’s a potential health issue that might require immediate attention. If you have a male cat who is missing his box – especially if he’s also licking his genital area – please call your veterinarian. Your cat could have a medical condition that your vet needs to address.9
If it’s a urinary tract issue, the cat may be going outside the litter box because it’s painful to urinate. Your cat associates the box with that pain, so he’ll go someplace else. That could be your sink, bathtub, or living room carpet. Some cats will make a point to urinate in front of you. That’s their way of (clearly) telling you they’re having a problem.10
There are other potential medical reasons why a cat will miss the litter box. A digestive issue could make it hard for a cat to defecate, or may cause a loss of control over this function. Likewise, cognitive- or age-related issues can also lead to soiling in your home.11
Maintaining A Clean And Healthy Litterbox Area
A clean, healthy litter box makes for a happy, clean cat. One of the most important things you should do is purchase a liner for the litter tray. That will make it a lot easier to empty out the old litter every week or every month, whatever your cleaning schedule may be. Just watch your cat closely if you use a liner. If they show any signs they don’t like it, ditch the liner idea.12
Another thing to consider will be making the cleaning of the litter pan part of your morning and afternoon routines. That way, you can be sure the box will be ready whenever your cat needs to use it.13Clean it in the morning after you brush your teeth, and then in the evening before you settle in to read a good book or watch television.
Whether you have a cat or a bunny (yes, some people have bunnies as pets who use litter boxes), make sure your beloved pet has a clean, comfortable place to go. The time you spend determining where to put those boxes – and the time you devote to making sure they’re clean – will go a long way toward making everyone, pets and humans included, very happy.