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December 10, 2018

Litter Box Locations Matter

04.05.15  Litter box locations matter to cats. Cats do not like eliminating in places where they can potentially be cornered or where they feel trapped. Ideal litter box locations have great views—allowing cats to see what is going on around them and to easily escape any potential threat. Cabinets, closets, most bathrooms and behind doors are poor places for litter boxes because they set up situations where cats can be cornered and trapped.

For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook

Litter box locations matter

Litter box locations matter. Closets and cabinets are poor locations for boxes. by Marilyn Krieger.

Do Not Punish Cats

03.22.2015 Do not punish cats when they do unwanted behaviors. When cats act out they’re not being bad. They’re responding to an event or circumstances in their environment. Because punishing cats can make them more stressed and feel insecure, it can escalate problems and cause others. Punishment also ruins relationships. Kitties associate the punishment with the punisher—it breaks the bonds between them and their people.

Instead of punishment, identify and then address the causes of the behaviors. Behavior does not happen in a vacuum. Once the reasons are pinpointed they can be addressed—cats taken to vets, litter box situations improved, neighborhood cats managed, etc.
For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook.

Don’t punish cats. Instead, identify and address the causes of the behavior.

Don’t punish cats. Instead, identify and address the causes of the behavior. by Shutterstock.

Moving Litter Boxes

12.02.12 Abruptly moving litter boxes to other locations can be stressful for cats and cause them to eliminate outside the litter box. Instead of immediately placing the litter box in another spot, move it gradually, a few inches a day to its new destination. Another solution is to leave the litter box in its original position and place another box in the new location.

Litter box Bit Tip: The Right Size

11.25.12  Make sure litter boxes are large enough to accommodate your cat. Ideally the size of litter boxes is 1.5 times the length of your cat.

Another Litter Box Tip: Choice

08.11.12 Litter boxes should not be placed together in one location. They need to be in different areas of your home so that your cat has a choice of which box to use.

Cat Litter Boxes: Locations Matter

Poor litter box location

Tucked away in a cabinet, behind the laundry room door—this may seem like an ideal location for a litter box. It is out of the way, hidden from view, odors are contained and it’s private. Although this might be a perfect solution for people, it’s not for cats.

Survival and safety take priority over privacy. Cats need to go to the bathroom in locations where they can’t potentially be trapped by another animal. They also don’t want to eliminate in enclosed areas that retain odors and most cats don’t respond well when startled by sudden noises such as cycling washers and dryers.

 

What’s wrong with this picture?
Everything is wrong with the location of this litter box. It may work for the cat’s people, but not for the cat. The box being located in a cabinet has two fundamental problems. Cabinets retain odors. Even though this box is scooped every day, the smells remain in the cabinet. People can’t smell the odors, but the cat can. Because a cat has a highly develop sense of smell, they often avoid litter boxes that smell offensive to them.

Everything about the location of this litter box screams ambush and is a set up for the cat to be trapped by another animal. In addition to potentially being waylayed in the cabinet, the cat can be cornered behind the door. Furthermore, because the cat can’t see around the door, he can’t see any threats that he may need to escape from. Cats do not want to be in situations where they can be trapped or ambushed.

In addition to the potential of being trapped, laundry rooms are notorious for sudden noises. The sounds of cycling washers and dryers can startle cats—another factor influencing the cat to find a safer place to eliminate.

Ideal Litter Box Location
An ideal location for a litter box is against the wall in a large room. The box should not be in a cabinet or enclosed in a closet. The view from the box needs to be expansive—the whole room, out the door and down the hall (if there is one). A box with a view lets the cat identify any potential threat which he can easily escape from. Litter boxes should not be placed in high traffic areas or areas with lots of noise and activity. Although cats aren’t as into privacy as people are, they do not want to do their business in high profile areas either.

Some people may not want to put litter boxes in those areas that are perfect for cats. Litter boxes do not need to be the focal point of a room. They can be placed in spots that are both unobtrusive to people and appealing to cats. Litter box placement can make the difference between a cat faithfully eliminating in the litter box and one who avoids it.

 

A Different Kind of Cat Behavior Consultation

Often during, before and after doing cat behavior consultations, I have unexpected encounters with animals of other species. Last year I had a number of awe-inspiring experiences with Bobcats, Asian Leopard Cats, African Servals, Coyotes one Mountain Lion, chickens and a number of reptiles. I can now add Turkey to the list. This experience—maybe not so awe-inspiring.

Saturday I was scheduled to do an on-site cat behavior consultation that revolved around a couple of cats who had severe litter box issues. I was early for the consultation. I am always early… Anyway, since I had time to kill, I checked out the neighborhood. I enjoy checking out neighborhoods—looking at houses & gardens. I am partial to really old homes and contemporary houses. As I was slowly driving up a hill, admiring the homes, a wild turkey sauntered off of the sidewalk and positioned himself in front of my car. Please keep in mind… I’m a suburbanite girl and I was in a suburban neighborhood. It’s not every day I see a wild turkey.

Also, keep in mind that I am not versed in Turkey Speak.

A turkey standing in front of my car or any car is not a good thing. I stopped my car and got out, with the intention of herding the turkey out of the street to a safer area. He didn’t want any part of it. He was making all sorts of cute little trills and chirps… very endearing and sweet. I chortled back at him… maybe this wasn’t the best idea… he answered me back and I think I became his person.

I couldn’t herd him out of the street—he stood his ground and approached me. I turned back towards my car—he followed me and attempted to hop in—kind of like a dog. Neighbors came out to watch the spectacle… one person told me he is a wild turkey, not domesticated. I carefully got out of my car again and started walking away. He rushed towards me … so I retreated, up on the sidewalk. I called my client and told her that I was going to be delayed since a turkey was resource guarding my car. Great entertainment for the neighbors… lots of giggling. One of the neighbors suggested I give him the keys to my car and maybe my phone number…

Finally someone took pity on me and ran interference so that I could return to my car and make my escape.

Soon Back in the Racks–Naughty No More!

Naughty No More!

Naughty No More! by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

My book Naughty No More! has not disappeared. My publisher sold about 1/3 of the inventory to Pet Smart last August and then ordered a second reprinting. The book is scheduled to be back in the warehouse around October 20th. I have no idea how that equates in Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble time. Meantime it has been kind of fun as well as somewhat disturbing to see someone trying to sell a used copy of Naughty No More! on Amazon for $900… that’s just weird. The good news is that soon, it will be back on Amazon for a reasonable price. Thankfully, it is available in all flavors of e-book. After my book is back up on Amazon, I wonder if that used, dog-eared copy will still be offered for $900.

Being Green is Good… but

This blog entry is not for the faint of heart… if you are sensitive to issues pertaining to cat excrement, you might want to not read this.

I support the green movement whenever possible. I’m glad to see people are concerned about what they are throwing away and how it impacts the environment. Having said that, sometimes the implications of being green has some disturbing consequences. Recently I’ve noticed a trend that is causing many cats to avoid using their litter boxes.

Most people understand the importance of scooping litter boxes on a daily basis. Cats do not like soiled litter boxes because the smell can theoretically attract predators and scare away potential prey. This means boxes need to be scooped daily. When cleaning cat boxes, the excrement is typically scooped into plastic bags and then thrown away. Before people started living green, the bags were removed immediately after each scooping. Times they are a-changing…

Some people, in their efforts to preserve the environment and not drown it in plastic bags are collecting the excrement in containers, dumping only after the containers have filled up. Typically, the containers are placed either next to the cat boxes, for convenience, or in the same room as the boxes. Some of the containers are open waste baskets lined with plastic bags—others are semi-closed boxes or bags. The containers are dumped when they are full—sometimes once a week, others once a month. One client was dumping every three months. The cat boxes are immaculately clean, but the rooms smell terrible.

From the cat’s perspective, there is no difference between a dirty cat box and a cleaned cat box that has an open container of excrement sitting next to it or nearby. They both smell and they both have the same consequences—cats choosing to not use their litter boxes.

And yes, there is a solution that will make both cats and people happy. There are environmentally friendly bags available from pet stores, specifically manufactured for this purpose. They can be thrown away every day. Litter lockers can also work, but only if they have good seals on them that prevent odors from escaping. So people, please think through what it means to be green. How is it impacting your cat?