Category Archives: cat litter

Do New Cats Need To Be Litter Trained?

By Langley Cornwell

Whether you are introducing a new cat into a multiple cat household or you’re bringing your first kitty home from the shelter, you’ll have to help the new family member get acclimated to the litter box.

All change is stressful for cats, and going into a new home can be a nerve-racking experience. Some cats require a longer adjustment period than others, so it’s important to do what you can to help your feline friend feel safe and secure. Even if it seems like your cat is one of the fast learners, the key factor in helping him get used to his new home and his new litter box is to move slowly.

Teaching a cat where to eliminate is much different than the rigors of house training a dog. With cats, instinct is on your side; cats naturally like to relieve themselves in the sand or dirt. Therefore, when you introduce your cat to a litter box, with a bit of encouragement he’ll happily go there instead of making a grand mess in your house.

At the beginning, it’s a good idea to restrict your new cat to a single room— but only for a short time. The transition will be easier on him if you have plenty of food and water, a bed, some toys, a scratching post and a litter box in “his” new room. Put your cat’s food, water, bed and toys at one end of the room, and the litter box at the other end of the room. Since cats appreciate privacy, he will be more inclined to use the box since it’s in a low-traffic area and away from his eating and resting area.

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Why Does My Cat “Go” Outside the Litter Box?

By Julia Williams

I saw a funny cartoon on Facebook recently, where a cat had made a little Zen Garden out of his litter box. A woman commented that her cat had started pooping next to the litter box and they were going to find it a new home. Dozens of angry retorts from cat lovers followed, and while some of the comments were a bit harsh, I think their wrath was justified. Had the woman said she’d tried everything to figure out why the cat was doing this, and asked for help, it would have been a different story.

Unfortunately, there are people who, instead of trying to change this common but undesirable behavior, just dump the cat at the shelter. That doesn’t solve anything, and innocent animals suffer needlessly. It’s absolutely not the cat’s fault that it starts going outside the litter box. There is always a reason, and a responsible pet owner has a duty to figure it out and find a solution. Anything else is just unacceptable. Sometimes it’s not easy, but no one ever said life would be without challenges.

There are five main reasons a cat might start “doing his business” outside the litter box. Let’s take a look at them.

A Medical Problem

Many medical issues – including diabetes, cystitis, bladder stones and urethral blockage – can cause a cat to stop using the litter box, and some can be life threatening. Therefore, it’s imperative to take your cat to the vet to rule out a medical problem first, before considering other reasons for the litter box aversion.

Type of Litter

Back in 1947, when Edward Lowe “accidentally” invented the first commercially packaged kitty litter, pet owners weren’t faced with a gazillion choices like they are today. How do we choose one? It depends somewhat on your personal preferences, but in the end it’s really about which one your cat likes and will use. If you love the natural kitty litters made from corn or wheat but your cat doesn’t, guess who has the final say? If you think scented litter smells nice, but your cat (whose sense of smell is infinitely greater than your own) prefers unscented, then unscented is what you’ll have to use. Some litter has a rough texture, and your cat might prefer a finer, sandy feel.

If your cat doesn’t like your choice of litter for any reason, she’s going to let you know with inappropriate elimination – and you will never convince them to accept a litter they find objectionable. You may have to try many different brands and types to discover which one is the holy grail of kitty litters in your cat’s eyes, but once you do, stick with it.

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Tips for Controlling Cat Litter Scatter

By Langley Cornwell

This is an area I need help with.

My husband and I are accustomed to sharing our living space with our pets. I freely admit that there are no restrictions in our home; our dog and our cat are allowed in every room and on every piece of furniture. We’d feed our animals high quality pet food like CANIDAE with our last nickel. I’m used to wearing a top layer of pet hair over my fleece or jersey clothes. When we’re going out in public, we’re used to quickly rolling a lint brush over our outfits before we leave. I could go on but the point should be clear, I love animals and everything that goes along with living with them.

Except for cat litter. It drives me nuts! Our cat is an indoor/outdoor guy so he mostly does his business outside now. When we first started letting our cat go outside, he would come back in to use the litter box and then immediately want to go back out and play. For the longest time he thought he could only “go” in the box. One day new neighbors moved in with an older cat. Our cats became friends and that mature cat taught our teenaged kitty it was okay to eliminate outside, that the whole big world could be used as a litter box. So now he goes out when he needs to “go” most of the time.

There are times, however, when he still uses his box and boy does he make a mess! He spreads cat litter all over the house. He’s a robust digger and it takes him a long time to get the litter organized just right. Then, when he’s done, he flings and slings the litter everywhere. We’ve found litter in our shoes, in our beds, even in our cars. It’s remarkable how far that litter spreads. We’ve tried the obvious solutions; litter boxes with high sides, covered litter boxes, but nothing changed. We’ve tried two types of mats that are designed to brush off a cat’s paws and contain the litter, but those haven’t worked. It was time to further my research. Here’s what I learned.

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Tips for Solving Litter Box Problems

By Julia Williams

In the “bathroom habits” category of the Cats Versus Dogs debate, fastidious kitties win paws down over canines. House training a puppy can be a lengthy process fraught with accidents; house training a kitten, on the other hand, usually involves placing them gently in a litter box once or twice and calling it a day.

A cat’s natural instinct to bury their waste typically means that litter box problems are few and far between. However, there are exceptions, and solving litter box problems requires being a bit of a “pet detective.” There’s always a reason why a cat stops using its litter box, and to get them back on track (or in the box), you have to figure out what it is. Litter box problems can be the result of a medical issue, or they can occur when your cat develops an aversion to the litter box for many different reasons.

Possible Causes of Litter Box Problems

1. Medical problems should be ruled out first. A urinary tract infection, blockage, or crystals in their urine can make elimination painful. It’s assumed that cats associate the litter box with the pain, and begin to avoid it. You may also see them spending a long time in the box but producing very little or no urine, and/or frequently licking their genitals. Urinary tract problems occur more often in male cats, although females have them too. It can be life threatening, so take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect this to be the cause of your litter box problem.

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What is Bloat? What are the Symptoms?

By Ruthie Bently

Quite a few of my articles are anecdotal, and this one is as well. I had never owned a dog that got bloat until a few months ago, when my AmStaff Skye had her own bout of it. Bloat is known by several names: torsion, Gastric dilation-volvulus (or GDV) and simply bloat. Deep-chested dogs are more susceptible to bloat, but any dog could theoretically get it.

Some of the factors that have been shown to contribute to bloat are: eating only one meal per day, exercising immediately after a meal, eating their food too fast, drinking lots of water right after a meal, gulping their food too quickly or eating from elevated bowls. Bloat can even be brought on by a stressful event for your dog, or if they have a temperament that is fearful. Even a dog’s age can be a factor.

What happens is that a dog’s stomach becomes distended with fluid and/or gas, and the stomach turns out of its normal position. The blood circulation to the stomach becomes impaired by the distention, and return of blood to the heart can be compromised by a compression of the larger vessels. If returning blood to the heart is compromised in this manner, further damage to several of the dog’s organs can occur, which can become a life threatening issue very quickly.

When Skye had her issue with bloat, I noticed that her abdomen began to swell like a balloon. She was trying to cough up something (like a cat with a hairball) and had no success. She also kept gulping water, as if that would help the situation. The color of her gums, tongue and ears became very pale. She was lethargic and started drooling, which she never does. She also became restless, began pacing and could not find a comfortable place. In short, I could tell she was miserable. Some of the other symptoms an owner may observe are rapid heartbeat, depression, weakness, difficulty or rapid breathing, and the dog may collapse.

What Skye had done was get into the cat litter box and help herself to some “kitty hors d’oeuvres.” I use a wheat-based cat litter and after she ate it, it began to ferment in her stomach. Of course, it happened on a Saturday night and we don’t have an emergency clinic in our town, though the vet would have met me at his office if I had asked him to. As soon as I noticed she was having a problem, I called the vet. He told me that they call it a “garbage gut,” and it can happen when a dog gets into something they are not used to eating, as it may react with the acid in their stomach.

I was very lucky because her stomach never torsioned, but I was scared to death for her. What the vet suggested was to go to the local discount store and get a gas reliever. He told me to give her one dose, and another dose in two hour increments if needed. I was so worried; I packed Skye into my truck and took her with me. After getting the anti-gas medicine, I gave her one as soon as I got out to the truck. What followed were several hours of “green fog” in our house, but I am happy to say it solved the problem, and I got a taller gate that Skye couldn’t climb over to get to the litter boxes.

Some of the breeds that can be susceptible to bloat are Saint Bernard, Standard Poodle, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd, Wolfhound, Great Dane, Doberman Pinscher, English Sheepdog, Boxer, Bull Mastiff, Mastiff, Akita, Sight hounds, and Irish Setter. You can find a more complete list of susceptible dog breeds online.

I would never suggest that you just go get a gas reliever (because I am not a veterinarian), and your situation could be more serious than mine. I would, however, suggest that if this situation happens to you, call your vet as soon as possible or get your dog to an emergency clinic. Time is of the essence if you suspect your dog has bloat. You can also help by keeping any foods for other pets, any garbage containers and litter boxes out of reach of your own dog. By being vigilant on your own, your dog may never have to suffer like my poor girl did.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Litter Box Training Do’s and Don’ts

By Julia Williams

Cats are fastidious and intelligent creatures that instinctively cover their waste, which makes litter box training a kitten so much easier than house training a puppy. Score one for kitties in the “cats versus dogs” debate!

If you adopt a new kitten that was raised indoors with its Mama, it will most likely already be trained to use the litter box. However, if you are fostering young kittens for a shelter, raising a litter of kittens, or adopting one that isn’t using a cat box yet for some reason, you will need to do some training.

If you’re lucky, your litter box training might involve little more than placing the kitten in the box a few times. As I said, cats are smart (okay, maybe I am biased just a little) and they generally use their litter box right away. Nonetheless, there are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind. Establishing good litter box habits at an early age is the key to avoiding problems in the future.

Litter Box Do’s

* Choose an appropriate box. My friend adopted a kitten recently, and I went with her to pick it up. When we arrived at her house with kitten in hand, she showed me the litter box she’d bought. It was a splendid covered cat box with a flap door, just like the one I use for my cats. Unfortunately, the entrance is a good 8” from the floor – which is fine for an adult cat but definitely not a tiny six-week-old kitten! We both had a good laugh, and then we went out to get a kitten-sized litter box with low sides that her new little fur-baby could easily climb over.

* Choose the right cat litter. Kittens often taste their litter, and there is concern among some cat lovers that the clumping clay litter can harm their digestive systems. I don’t know anyone who’s experienced that, but if you want to err on the side of caution, there are several natural alternatives you can try. My favorite natural cat litter is made from finely ground corn; others include wheat, sawdust and pine pellets.

*Location, location, location. As in real estate, the location of your cat’s litter box is very important. It should be placed in an easily accessible area that’s relatively quiet and offers some privacy. Make sure the cat box is not located near appliances that make startling or loud noises, such as washing machines or refrigerators. If you have toddlers or dogs, put the litter box in an area that you can make off limits to them with a baby gate. This is to make sure kitty doesn’t get ambushed while doing his business, and also to keep curious hands and mouths out of the cat litter.

* Provide more than one litter box if you have several cats, or have multiple stories in your home that the kitten will have access to.

* Confine a young kitten to a small area until you know they are consistently using the litter box, particularly at night while you’re asleep.

* Take your kitten to the litter box throughout the day, particularly if you see it sniffing around as though looking for a spot to “go.” The first few times, you can very gently scratch the litter with the kitten’s paws to simulate the digging, although it’s not really necessary. When your kitten uses the litter box, it’s a good idea to praise and pet them, to let them know they did a good thing and you’re happy with them.

Litter Box Don’ts

* Accidents may happen. Never, ever punish your kitten by spanking or rubbing his nose in the mess. This only creates fear, distrust, and a cat that will grow up not wanting to be in your company. Be sure to clean the area they soiled with a product containing enzymes which remove the scent.

* Don’t change the type of litter if your kitten seems to like the one you have. If you do decide to try a new cat litter, mix it into the old litter gradually if the type of litter is compatible. For instance, when I switched from clumping clay to corn-based litter which is also a clumping type, I added a little of the new along with the old for several weeks.

* Don’t forget to clean the box regularly. For some cats, that may mean daily scooping.

* Don’t move the litter box to a new location suddenly. If you want to change the location, leave the old box where it is and place a second box in the new spot until your kitten is using it regularly.

* Don’t tempt fate by leaving a large potted plant at floor level. The dirt is attractive to kittens, and they might use it as a toilet or just have some fun digging in it.

Your litter box training should be a breeze if you remember three simple things: start early, stay consistent and provide a suitable environment for your “feline loo.”

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.