Thursday, August 30, 2007

When Your Cat Has "Accidents"

Cats are normally very fastidious, and house-training is rarely a major issue. But every so often, you'll come upon the exception, when your cats' urinating outside the box becomes a major behavior problem!

Cats may not use their litterboxes for many reasons - physical, emotional, social, or environmental. It is possible to find the reason and solve this problem - don't let this be the end of a beautiful relationship!

Holly Nash, DVM, MS, in her article Urinating Outside of the Litter Box on Pet, lists possible causes:

~ Medical conditions such as colitis, IBS, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney or liver disease, or feline urinary tract disease. If the solutions below don't help, or if your cat seems to have pain while eliminating, go to your vet ASAP!

~ Stress - Have you moved? Brought in a new pet? Changed your routine? Is the family in crisis? Cats are incredibly sensitive to changes in their environment. If you or your household are in a transition, you can make it easier for your cat with pheromone-based stress-buster sprays like Comfort Zone or Feliway.

~ Litterbox location - Cats (like people) like to be private and undisturbed while doing their business. Some like to urinate in one box and defecate in another. You should have one box per cat, plus one extra, with boxes on every floor of your house.

~ Type of litter - Would you rather have sand or gravel between your toes? Cats have very individual preferences on the type, scent and depth of litter they like.

~ Cleanliness - A cat's sense of smell is 10 times stronger than ours, and you know how strong cat wastes can smell! Keeping litterboxes clean can help prevent "protest" elimination.

Also, cats that are physically too big for their litterbox sometimes wind up doing their business over the edge. Faced with this situation, I cut an entry hole in a large, heavy-duty plastic filing box, and my mega-cats are happily using it with few to no accidents!

For more solutions, see your vet, and check my bookshelf for other experts' advice!

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