Ten Tips For Maximizing Litter Box Appeal

By Pam Johnson-Bennett

The litter box is a very important part of your cat’s life, yet we often don’t do our part when it comes to making sure the box is clean and appealing. Cleaning and maintaining the litter box may not be your favorite thing to do when it comes to being a cat owner, but it’s crucial to your cat’s health and happiness. Here’s a list of 10 tips to maximize litter box appeal:

1. Most cats prefer a soft, unscented scoopable litter. Texture is important to cats and the feel of a soft substrate on their paws is generally more appealing. Also, with a cat’s excellent sense of smell, the highly scented litters can be offensive.

2. Use an uncovered box to allow for maximum comfort and to increase escape potential. Cats, especially in a multi-cat environment, need to feel they can easily escape from the box in order to prevent being ambushed by a companion cat.

3. Keep the litter level of the box at about three inches. As you scoop soiled litter, be sure to top off the box to maintain a consistent level.

4. Scoop waste from the box twice a day. Nobody wants to use an unflushed toilet.

5. Thoroughly dump used litter and completely scrub the box once or twice a month. If the box still smells after being thoroughly scrubbed then it’s time for a new one.

6. The box should be the appropriate size for your cat. Don’t ask a large cat to squeeze into a small box.

7. In multi-cat households you should have the same number of boxes as cats.

8. Don’t place litter boxes all in one area. Scatter the boxes throughout the house so lower-ranking cats don’t have to pass a higher-ranking cat’s area and risk conflict.

9. Don’t locate litter boxes near the cat’s feeding station.

10. Don’t use litter box liners.

In general, the best litter box set-up involves a basic, open box that’s filled with an appealing litter substrate. The box should be in a location that’s convenient for the cat to access and will also be convenient for you in terms of remembering to scoop it out regularly. Don’t be fooled into creating a litter box set-up of that’s too complicated and don’t waste money on self-cleaning boxes. The more complicated the set-up, the less likely your cat will use it. Keep it simple and keep it clean. When setting up the litter box keep your cat’s needs in mind.

Pam Johnson-Bennett, CABC is a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant and author of seven books on cat behavior. She is the former Vice President of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and currently heads up that organization’s cat division. She is a Professional Member of the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals and a Professional Member of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance. Pam is the resident behavior expert for Friskies. Previously, she was the behavior expert at Yahoo, ivillage and the Cat Channel. She was the award-winning behavior columnist for Cats magazine and The Daily Cat.

Pam speaks on behavior at veterinary conferences and animal welfare organizations around the country. She is also a frequent guest on national TV and radio. She is considered one of the foremost experts on cat behavior.

Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, LLC, a private veterinarian-referred behavior practice. You can visit her website at http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com

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