I recently read that there are “an estimated 65 million cats living in more than 30 million American households”. Whew! First, let me thank all of you kitty owners for giving homes to so many furry friends.

Most of our clients keep their kitties indoors, which is the best way to keep them out of harms way. That requires the use of those sometimes stinky litter boxes. Did you know that cat owners spend millions of dollars a year on products designed to reduce or eliminate these lovely odors?

The main odor producer is the urine. If you have a cat, you know the odor. It is an acrid, ammonia-like smell that is caused by the break down of nitrogen-containing products in the urine once it’s exposed to air. What happens if you want to keep your cat indoors but you just can’t tolerate the smell?

At one time most domesticated cats were outdoors only, and the occasional indoor cat made due with a crude box filled with paper, sand and misc scraps. Enter Edward Lowe, who 65 years ago invented Kitty Litter, and the feline world began to change. Lowe’s Kitty Litter was a granulated clay that helped absorb and mask odors. People began to invite their cat pals into their homes. Today, their presence in our homes is the rule rather than the exception. We now have lots of litter to choose from, and the manufacturers all seem to claim that their product is the superior choice. Be sure to evaluate your choice based on the smells, absorption and most importantly, how you cat adjusts to and enjoys using the box.

Our goal is to keep our pets happy with their litter boxes. Behaviorists remind us that dissatisfaction with the litter box is the main behavioral reason cats start going outside of the box and on the carpet. There are several tips to keep them happy.
1. Choose a plastic (or some other non-absorbent material) box that is easy to clean
2. It should be at least 14 x 18 inches. It should be comfortable to move in.
3. Place it in a quiet out of the way place (a quiet spot is the key).
4. Avoid highly perfumed litter. It may mask the smell, but may cause the cat to reject the box)
Scoop the urine and solid waste at least once a day. (yes once a day)
5. Change the litter completely and wash the box weekly.
6. Never use household cleaning products. Cats are very sensitive to phenols and other ingredients found in so many of these products.

If you cat starts going outside the box please remember that there are several medical reasons that this can happen. Don’t wait too long before letting your vet (hey, that’s us) examine the cat that has broken it’s litter box training.

Now, go hug your cat. :o)