In the house, we’re the ones who need to give our cat a suitable litter tray and place it somewhere he’ll feel comfortable using it. Making a mistake here could lead to your cat urinating or defecating outside the tray.
You need to remember that for your cat, toileting is a time of maximum vulnerability. So you should always choose a place he feels safe, comfortable, and from where he can make a quick getaway if something frightens him.
Covered litter trays give a greater sense of security, but some cats reject them because they limit the chances of escape.
Some litter trays have an entry door that the cat needs to push to get in. This can sometimes prove an obstacle for cats that are very old, or are insecure.
It can be a good idea to experiment – if you usually use an uncovered tray, try using a cover, or vice versa. This way you’ll be able to see what your cat likes best.
In terms of size, your cat needs a litter tray that’s big enough for him to dig freely both before and after urinating or defecating. Your choice will therefore depend on how big your cat is.
You need to position your cat’s litter tray in a quiet place that’s easily accessible. Cats, like people, prefer privacy and calm when it comes to their toileting needs:
The Group of Specialists in Feline Medicine (AVEPA/ GEMFE) recommend that you replace the litter every other day, and spot clean the tray on a daily basis.
For cleaning the tray, the recommendation is to use a gentle detergent and hot water, or a suitable disinfectant. Make sure that you rinse the tray well before putting it out for your cat to use again.
It’s not a good idea to use disinfectants that cloud the water, as they usually contain phenols, which are toxic to cats.
If you’re preparing your house for welcoming a new cat, bear in mind this warning from the experts at GEMFE:
“Cats that are learning to use the litter tray need to fix it in their minds as an appropriate place for them to do their business, and cleaning too often can weaken this association.”
Currently there are four kinds of cat litter on the market: clumping clay, non-clumping clay, those based on silica gel, and cat litter made from vegetable fibres. Any of these can be good, but the basics to bear in mind are:
If you’re concerned about the environment, natural litters can be a good choice, they have good clumping properties, and are made from materials such as cellulose, wood chips, barley or corn. They’re unperfumed, and are usually both biodegradable and compostable.
If you want to change the type of litter you use, gradually mix the new one with the old for a week, and see how your cat reacts. Always make sure that there’s enough litter in the tray for your cat to dig and cover his business..
If you cat was using his litter tray regularly but has now stopped doing so, it could be for one of the following reasons: