July 7, 2018
by Robyn Paterson
Whether you are first bringing your kitten home to your house or if you've experienced some accidents, you want to make sure you have the proper system in place to keep your Bengal's pee in its proper location - the litter box.
First, you want to be prepared with the right type of litter box. In most cases, litter boxes are made with human convenience in mind, but think about it, what is ultimately most convenient for the human is that the cat uses the litter box. So what kind of litter boxes do CATS prefer?
Cats like litter boxes to be large and uncovered. When shopping for a litter box, skip the pet stores. The best litter boxes are large, high-sided storage tubs. As far as your cat is concerned, the bigger, the better. The litter box should minimally be at least one and a half times as long as the cat.
Next, you have to figure out where to put these litter boxes - and yes, I said boxes, plural. You really do need one more litter box than you have cats. They cannot all be placed side by side of one another. Cats have an instinctual need to establish their territory, and one of the ways they claim this territory is through urine.
While most people start with a litter box in the cat's safe room, you must also have litter boxes in the most heavily used places. So yes, this means the family room, the living room, the bedroom, and any other room that the cats claim. Once again, we can't do what is convenient for the people and expect the cat to adapt. Some will, but others won't. We must adjust to the cat's needs. When placing boxes in highly trafficked rooms, you may want to use furniture that doubles as a litter box cabinet.
Besides having litter boxes located in highly prized rooms, you must have others - preferably the large storage containers - in spaces where a cat won't feel trapped. Going to the bathroom can be a vulnerable time for a cat. If another cat or a dog ambushes a cat while using a litter box, it needs an escape route. If it doesn't have one, it will never likely return to that box if it ever feels threatened while using it. By placing a large storage container litter box behind these cat cubes, we've created a safe place in a highly prized territory, and we do not have to look directly at it.
What is the Best Cat Litter?
So now you've placed large storage containers in highly prized locations around the house, but what do you put in them? Once again, you have to think like a cat, not like a human. What you'd like and what the cat likes will likely be two different products. First, since all domestic cats have roots in the African desert, you need to pick a litter with a texture like sand. Sand is the original cat litter, which cats are more drawn to. Avoid all litter in textures that are not sand-like.
Next, they instinctively bury their urine and feces, and clumping litter encapsulates their waste, which cats like. A 1990s research study concluded that cats prefer clumping litter. While people often want to go organic, in this situation, it is better to go with what the cat likes than with what you like.
Finally, the odor. Cats can't stand scented cat litter. Floral and citrus scents are their least favorite, and most cat litter is scented with a floral or citrus scent. Sand doesn't have a strong smell, and since sand is the original cat litter, neither should your litter. We use Dr. Elsey's Unscented Litter in our home, and while training kittens, we use Dr. Elsely's Cat Attract. These litters fit the criteria of what cat's like. Dr. Elseys's litter is the best litter on the market for keeping your home odor-free and your full litter box cleanouts to a minimum. Dr. Addie, one of the World's leading experts on FIP Research, "assessed the activity of various cat litters against feline coronavirus (FCoV) in the laboratory and some households. Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract cat litter was shown to reduce, but not eliminate, virus transmission to cats sharing litter trays" (Addie). The same reasons Dr. Addie concluded that Dr. Elsey is the best are what makes it the best for your home - control of odor and reduce bacteria transmission. Dr. Elsey's litter uses Fuller's Earth - or sodium bentonite - as one of its ingredients. Sodium bentonite is a natural clay that absorbs moisture and makes a sealant. It is also used to seal natural ponds that livestock animals may access - which speaks to its safety. When your cat pees in the box, it automatically clumps and seals in the odor. When your cat poos and covers it up, it does the same. Fuller's Earth also has some natural antibacterial properties, so it immediately goes to work at breaking down the bacteria or keeping them from forming. Dr. Elsey's litter ability to clump is - according to research - the best on the market. If you keep two inches of litter in the box and scoop the box clean regularly, there is no need to do large full-box cleanouts with disinfectants because the waste is all contained in the clumps you remove.
We live with many cats in our house; one of the comments we enjoy hearing the most from many people who come to our home is - "I can't believe your house doesn't smell." We attribute the lack of litter box odor to feeding a species-appropriate diet and using Dr. Elsey's unscented cat litter. Because we live here, we worry we may become accustomed to any potential smell. Therefore, it is wonderful to hear from others - some of whom walk in expecting the house to smell based on preconceived crazy-cat-people stereotypes - that our home does not smell like cat waste or cat litter boxes.
Don't try to compromise by buying unscented litter and then placings scented deodorizers all around it. For one, many scented items are toxic to cats, and others are not good for their lungs or ours. If you do not want to smell your cat's litter box, you can feed a species-appropriate diet - raw 80% meat, 10% bones, 10% organs - as this leads to a minimal odor of the fecal matter. Scoop regularly, not ever allowing a layer of urine to cover the top of the box, and you will find that you do not have a cat litter box odor in your home.
Cats are fastidious. Not only do they like their box clean, but they want the house clean as well. So the last tip for keeping your cat pee in the litter box is to keep everything clean. Scoop the litter box daily. Scrub it with soap and water regularly, and don't leave piles of clutter around your house, as that clutter looks like a new litter box to your cat. If there are any accidents, clean with an enzyme cleaner to remove all odor.
While there is never a one-solutions-fits-all-problems with litter box issues, cats use the litter box - or shall I say don't use the litter box - to communicate. If you have litter box issues that are not medically related, you may need to consider whether the cat feels territorial threatened. If there are no issues with the household pets, then possibly neighborhood cats or wild animals are coming around at night. If the cat is not territorially threatened, then the most likely cause is insufficient mental or physical stimulation. If that is the case, you must establish a play-then-feed routine and offer lots of stimulation, such as a cat wheel and mind exercises.
To review, the steps you need to take to lead to litter box success are:
Buy storage containers as litter boxes.
Place them in the highly desired territories around your house.
Fill them with Dr. Elsey's unscented, clumping cat litter.
Keep the litter boxes and your house clean.
Addie, Diane. “Which Cat Litter Is Best?” Dr. Addie - How to Prevent FCoV Transmission. University of Glasgow. 2019. www.catvirus.com/PreventionS1.htm#CatLitter.
Becker, Karen. "Top Three Reasons Cats Avoid their Litter Box." Healthy Pets. 24 March 2012. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/03/24/top-three-reasons-cats-avoid-their-litter-box.aspx
Guy, Norma C, Marti Hopson and Raphael Vanderstichel. "Litterbox size preference in domestic cats." Journal of Veterinary Behavior. March-April 2014. http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878(14)00003-3/abstract
"You're Setting Up Your Litter Box Wrong." Jackson Galaxy. 25 August 2014. http://jacksongalaxy.com/blog/2014/08/25/cat-mojo-litter-box-101-youre-setting-up-your-litter-box-wrong
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