When it comes to owning a cat, litter tray issues and inappropriate elimination in the house can be common problems for cat owners. There are numerous possible reasons for why these issues occur, including the type of litter used, lack of appropriate litter trays, pain, illness and behavioural considerations such as anxiety.
All feline households should have at least one litter tray per cat PLUS and additional one. For example in a multi-cat household with two cats, there should be at least 3 litter trays available around the house. These trays should be in a variety of private locations such as bathroom, laundry, or bedroom. The litter tray should also be placed away from food and water bowls.
The litter tray needs to be easily accessible. Senior cats may struggle to step over the edge of the tray if they are suffering with osteoarthritis which is causing pain or weakness. If a cat is anxious due to the presence of other cats, either inside or outside the house, or loud noises they may be reluctant to use the allocated tray. This is why placing multiple litter trays in private locations is important.
If there are problems with cats using the specific litter you have chosen, consider either changing the substrate used, or at least providing some choice. Options for suitable litter substrates include; crystals, recycled paper and saw dust. The litter tray needs to be emptied and cleaned daily, or more frequently if used regularly, as cats are fastidiously clean and do not like to use a dirty litter tray.
If you have tried the above recommendations and your cat is still toileting inappropriately, it is best to book in for a consultation with your veterinarian for a full health check. Often a blood and urine test is recommended to rule out any medical reasons for your cats’ toileting dramas. Urinary tract infections, for example, can result in pain when using the litter box which can then lead to an aversion to the tray itself or the type of litter used.
The physical examination may also reveal any sources of pain which can be treated or any underlying diseases such as diabetes, which can cause an increased water intake and thus frequent toileting resulting in a very wet tray. Specific diets are available to help support cats with recurrent urinary issues. For those cats with anxious tendencies, pheromones such as Feliway are useful and can help the cat feel more relaxed in their environment. Other medications, behavioural plans and environmental enrichment suggestions are also available from your veterinarian.
Written by Caity Thomson – Petfocus Vetcare