D.D., Naples, FL
Tags: cat Naples FL litter box
Apr 28, 2013
What is your opinion on clumping litter and cat eye problems? Thank you.
D.D., Naples, FL Apr 29, 2013
I have received several letters questioning the safety of clumping litter for cats. The most common concern is about them swallowing small particles of the litter that may adhere to their paws or fur and the risk of intestinal blockage. I have found no clinical evidence to support this concern, and I regard its perpetuation as an unfounded fear.
I use World's Best Cat Litter for my two cats, and I believe that it is one of the best. It has very little dust compared to the various clay-based cat litters. Your cat should have no problems with this brand, unless it is allergic to corn.
Any cat with eye issues may experience eye irritation and develop litter box aversion if his box has an odor-trapping cover. Covered cat boxes create an ammoniated and dusty interior space for cats, and I advise against using them.
Tags: cat litter box
Feb 03, 2013
In May, we adopted two male kittens -- brothers and littermates. They are neutered. They get along very well, and they play together, groom each other and sleep together. I have three litter boxes (two are covered boxes, one is not. All get scooped two times a day.
Occasionally, B used the bathtub or sink to urinate in, but in early October, he pooped in the sink. Both cats love to drink out of the sink if I am there getting ready for work.
We have no small children or other pets. We feed the cats downstairs by their litter boxes so they know where they are located. The boxes are in a quiet spot -- no one bothers them when they're going. I put bowls of water in the areas where they're peeing to try and stop the behavior, since it is difficult to close off the rooms. That seemed to work until this morning. While I was trying to sleep, B pooped in the bathtub in the master bath, and he used towels to cover it up, even though there was a bowl of water in the tub, from which he and the other cat drink.
We believe B's brother -- the runt of the two -- is now the dominant cat. He can easily take B's toy or treat from him without any fuss. I don't know if this behavior is due to trying to establish dominance or something else.
I have had cats in the past, but I've never experienced this sort of behavior. I don't know where else to turn as my vet cannot find any reason for this behavior. My vet says he has heard of cats (especially neutered males) liking the texture/feel of porcelain sinks, and he believes that the behavior may be in response to an issue the brothers are having. My fear is that this is becoming a learned trait and will be impossible to stop. Any suggestions?
Feb 04, 2013
The out-of-place toilet behavior you describe in your cat is not uncommon. I would consider removing the litter box covers, which some cats detest. Fixing dripping faucets switches off many cats' delight in sipping and playing with the drops, so I'd suggest purchasing a plug-in drinking fountain. Cats, especially ones eating dry food, need to drink plenty of water, and a bubbling water dispenser attracts them.
After ruling out cystitis and constipation, my solution for my cat, Igor, who began pooping in my sink and peeing in the bathtub, was to put a few inches of water in both sink and tub for a few days. Most cats do not like to get wet, and this may be your best solution. I do not believe that this behavior has anything to do with their interrelationship.
Jan 13, 2013
First, thank you for your advice and books regarding cats and diet. About seven years ago, we adopted a young cat from the shelter who had what seemed to be a bowel disorder. Whenever he would use the litter box, we would find blood in his stool in addition to blood around the house. The vet suggested shots of cortisone, but this never worked. After reading what you had to say, we changed his food and he has been healthy ever since.
We have another cat who is about 9 years old. For the past few months, he has started to urinate on our basement floor. We are good about keeping the litter boxes cleaned and changed. We bought a black light to see if there was old urine in the basement that might be confusing him, but there was not. Since this has become such a problem, we no longer let the cats in the basement and have boxes now on the first floor. He does not do this on other floors of the house, only the basement. We prefer to have the boxes in the basement.
Do you have any thoughts on this? He seems happy, and we are very confused and frustrated by this. We've let him downstairs a few times since checking with the black light, and he will go on the floor while we are watching.
Jan 14, 2013
It would be helpful to readers if you could write back and let me know what food your first cat was being fed that was associated with his bowel problem and what dietary change brought him back to health.
As for your other cat who has a fixation on urinating on the basement floor: If the floor is covered with some form of matting, the surface may be a trigger. Certain textures are attractants for some cats, especially beanbag chairs, shag rugs and rubbery bed covers. Plain cement may contain earthy odors that can act as a trigger, since cats normally evacuate in the wild on the soil, usually digging a small pit, then covering over their excrement.
A penetrating enzyme cleaner may help, or you could try applying epoxy resin or a waterproof sealant.
J.A., Naples, FL
Tags: cat Naples FL litter box
Dec 30, 2012
I have a great, healthy cat, Monty, who is more than 12 years old. I adopted him from the Humane Society 10 years ago. He was there for more than a year.
He has always used the litter box, but the problem is that he never covers his urine or feces. He turns around to leave the box and scratches as if he is covering, but nothing's covered. I have tried for years to teach him, with no success.
And there is, of course, the smell. Do you have any suggestions?
J.A., Naples, FL Dec 31, 2012
Since your cat is probably set in his toilet behavior, I would accept this as a blessing insofar as he does at least evacuate only in the box. Besides, from the odor you know when his litter box needs cleaning.
I do worry about cats having to evacuate in covered boxes, even the costly ones fitted with an automatic cleaning system, because of the odor of urine and feces being trapped inside. Ironically, in a recent edition of the Humane Society of the United States' All Animals magazine, there is an article advising cat owners to not use covered or hooded boxes because they may develop an aversion because of the odor; on the next page is an advertisement for a hooded, self-cleaning litter box.
For your Monty, the issue could be an aversion to scented litter or clay or other clumping litter that sticks to his paws. He may like one of Purina's better products, Yesterday's News, consisting of recycled newspaper as pelleted cat litter, which neither clumps nor sticks easily to cats' paws.
Y.T., Fargo, ND
Tags: cat dog Fargo ND litter box
Jul 22, 2012
My husband and I are having an ongoing argument that I hope you can resolve.
He cleans out the cats' litter box, which I appreciate. But he says once a day is sufficient. I say it's not. We use a scent-free clumping litter, and our two cats drink plenty water so you can imagine there's lots of clumps by end of day, plus poop. They eat a lot, but they are young and active and not overweight.
I say he should clean it out twice a day. What do you think? I am concerned -- not so much about the smell as for the poor cats who have to step around the stuff already in the box.
Y.T., Fargo, ND Jul 23, 2012
I appreciate and share you concern for your two cats, and wish that more people did. Try not flushing your toilet for a day -- that will get your husband to empathize with the cats!
Cats hate to get their paws wet and dirty, and a common reaction to dirty litter boxes is to become unhousebroken. They develop an aversion to the dirty, stinky litter box and evacuate elsewhere. The problem often goes unnoticed for a while since the cat evacuates in some concealed spot.
For our two cats, we use unscented World's Best, corn-based clumping cat litter, and I clean the boxes out four times a day -- just before each small meal I feed them. Some days I am amazed at how much they can deposit!
Your husband may be lazy or have his own aversion to the litter box, but out of concern for the cats and respect for you, he should be cleaning it out at least three times a day.
N.C., Tulsa, OK
Tags: cat OK litter box Tulsa
Jul 01, 2012
My cat is driving me crazy. I have three cats, and the "middle" cat is 3 years old.
About two years ago, she decided that my throw rugs were her personal urinals. She usually targets the ones in the bathroom, but if I remove those, she chooses the one in the kitchen. She still uses the litter box, and she never urinates on anything else in the house.
I love her dearly, but I am getting so tired of having to wash my rugs every week. I clean the litter box every day, I've given her extra attention and treats so she's happy and I've sprayed the rugs with everything under the sun hoping the smells will stop her. Nothing has worked!
I'm at my wit's end, and I don't know what to do with her. I'm afraid if I remove all throw rugs, she'll decide to start urinating on the furniture.
What is causing this bizarre fetish? Can you help me?
N.C., Tulsa, OK Jul 02, 2012
Your provisional diagnosis is probably correct -- the texture of your throw rugs is like a fetish for your cat.
Certain materials, the old beanbags of the '70s being a prime example, can trigger a cat's toilet behavior. Other factors may be involved, such as her preferring a cleaner litter box. Try giving her an extra litter box placed on one of the throw rugs. That might help.
Many cats urinate outside of their litter boxes because they suffer from cystitis and bladder stones/calculi. Check this out with your veterinarian. When dealing with what seems like a behavioral/psychological issue, medical causes need to be ruled out first.
C.L., Fairfax, Va
Sep 20, 2010
My daughter has three cats and they have all recently moved in with me. My daughter says I'm not to give the cats milk, only water. One of the cats goes kind of crazy when anyone opens a milk bottle or eats yogurt or ice cream. Am I supposed to limit their milk? Also, how often should I clean the litter box?
C.L., Fairfax, Va Sep 20, 2010
Many cats are allergic to dairy products and, like people, are lactose-intolerant, experiencing indigestion, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. This is too often misdiagnosed as inflammatory bowel disease and treated with special, expensive and unpalatable prescription diets. All things in moderation -- a daily teaspoon or two of plain organic yogurt or kefir should be fine for most cats.
Litter box cleaning for three cats is a chore. One litter box will have to be cleaned three or four times a day. Use a perforated scoop or plastic bag or disposable glove to pick out feces and clumps of wet litter and either bag it for the garbage or compost it. Flushing down the toilet may be an option, except for California where it is prohibited to protect marine mammals from toxoplasmosis that cat feces may transmit. I would advise against toilet flushing for all coastal states. It would also be a good idea to have two or three litter boxes, if space permits. If they use more than one box, your cleaning-out might be once a day for all boxes.
L.S., Cape Coral, FL
Tags: cat Cape Coral FL diet food litter box
Sep 05, 2010
We have an 11-year-old, spayed female indoor cat. For 10 years, she used the litter box without fail, but in the past year, she has started to defecate all over the house, including furniture and beds. How can we stop this behavior? We tried yelling and keeping her in the bedroom where she normally sleeps, but nothing works.
L.S., Cape Coral, FL Sep 05, 2010
Yelling at her is pointless and basically cruel. Giving your cat a few drops of fish oil in her food (working up to a teaspoon daily) may help, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. This would be especially beneficial if your cat has arthritis in the back, which is a common reason for otherwise healthy older cats to become impossible to housebreak. A veterinary checkup is called for, as she most likely has an age-related physical problem. Putting the litter in a large (2-by-3), low-sided (2 inches high) tray might make it easier for your cat to maneuver around while evacuating. Massage therapy will also benefit her.
Another thing: Check if her stools are stiff. She could simply be constipated and needs a stool softener like Laxatone (from the vet); some pumpkin or mashed lima beans, olive oil and some raw meat and liver might also help.
D.F., Silver Spring, Md
Aug 30, 2010
My golden Lab eats the lumps in the kitty litter, and I am worried it will harm her. It's not a case of her being hungry; she is well-fed twice a day. Each time she gets half a can of meat chunks, about 2 cups of dry food, half a can of vegetables (carrots or green beans) and sometimes table scraps. She is 13 years old, but shows no signs of age! I read that there are studies of Rottweilers who live to be 13 and are immune to cancer. My Lab seems to be in this category. She is obedient, a good watchdog and my dear companion. She tolerates the cat indoors, but I'm afraid to let them both out in the yard at the same time, as the dog chases any creature that moves. She killed a squirrel recently. Any advice?
D.F., Silver Spring, Md Aug 30, 2010
Your dog is old for the breed and must have some good genes! Dogs self-medicate by eating grass and soil or dirt. Your dog may be craving certain minerals in her diet. Giving her a daily (human) multimineral/multivitamin tablet or capsule that's broken up and mixed with her regular food may be what she needs. Some dogs eat cat feces they find in the litter box because they are motivated to clean up the mess, as they would with their own pups. Eating the litter itself could mean there is some abdominal discomfort, which may need to be checked, especially if other symptoms develop. Set up a low gate so the cat can jump over and use the box, but the dog cannot. More than one dog has developed acute intestinal blockage after consuming cat litter. Clay-based and especially mineral-based cat litter can also harm cats. Try changing the litter to no-clay, like the corn-based World's Best Cat Litter or Purina's Yesterday's News Paper-Based Cat Litter made from recycled newspaper (primarily harmless cellulose). Avoid all scented cat litters for cat's sake. Clap your hands or blow a whistle to scare squirrels out of the yard before your dog goes out.
D.A.O'N., Virginia Beach, Va
Jun 12, 2010
We have a 4-year-old Maine coon cat. She is basically an indoor cat, but we let her outdoors on occasion. Lately, she has started a habit that baffles us.
She will leave her feces outside of the litter box. She will scratch the gravel in the box, but then drop the feces outside of the box. She urinates just fine in the box.
We tried using two litter boxes, but she will use only one. We use Tidy Cats litter. We think she might be defecating outside where the ground is hard, so we tried keeping her in the house for a couple of weeks, but she's still defecating outside of the box. She knows she's doing wrong and goes upstairs and hides afterward. How do we solve this situation? We thought about leaving an empty box or filling one with just plain dirt. Our cat is in excellent health, lovable and playful.
D.A.O'N., Virginia Beach, Va Jun 13, 2010
Getting into a cat's mind is challenging, because they are borderline inscrutable and can do the most mysterious things. Yet, in spite of their individuality and ineffability, the numerous referrals from people with cats like yours have given me some insights with regard to causes and treatments.
First, NEVER punish a cat for going outside the box because that would probably make things worse.
Second, consider that your cat might be constipated and evacuating in the litter box is painful. This and blocked, painful anal glands should be checked out and treated accordingly.
Pain in the litter box leads to litter-box aversion/avoidance. This often occurs in older cats suffering from arthritic spines and joints. Many cats also have chronic foot pain and infections after being declawed (an inexcusable routine veterinary procedure) and can become house-soilers, especially when the litter irritates their mutilated paws.
You might want to try a different type of cat litter. Avoid dusty clay types, and never use scented litter. For our feral cat Twain, I use a layer of the World's Best Cat Litter (made from corn) with layers of Kitty's Crumble (coconut fiber) and Yesterday's News (newspaper pellets). Your cat may enjoy having his litter box set inside a much larger tray also filled with litter.