Bringing home a kitten or an adult sized cat to your home can bring great joy. Many cat owners think of their feline friends as a member of the family. Studies have shown that playing with a kitten or cat at least once a day can lower high blood pressure and lower the risk for depression.
However, with any household pet, certain issues can arise that are hard to deal with. Litter box problems are one of the most common. Fortunately, there are solutions, but it is first important to understand if your feline does have a problem.
Many people associate litter box problems with kittens, but it can show with any age of cat. The most common issue with litter boxes is the cat urinating or defecating anywhere but in the actual litter box.
Even if your cat is a kitten, this is not normal, and you need to train the kitten to know that. If you see your kitty doing these things, catch them in the act. Say something so that they stop what they are doing, but do not be scary about it. Then take the kitten to the litter box and sit them down at it.
If you have a new kitten at home, training the kitten to learn to use the box shouldn't be very difficult. By instinct, cats know to use the bathroom in an area where they can cover up their business with dirt or other substance. Once they know that the box has something for them to cover up the evidence with, they will know to use it there all of the time.
Cats are creatures of habit, and they love a schedule. You might notice how your kitty will wake you up at the same time each morning to eat. They also expect you to be home each night at the same time to feed them. Their bathroom schedule is usually the same. When it is the normal time that your cat likes to use the bathroom in other areas of the house, lock the cat in a room with the litter box.
Make sure that there is nothing else in the room to keep the cat entertained. Instinct should make the cat use the litter box. If it does, reward your kitty with a treat. However, you should not torture the cat by keeping it locked in the room for a long period of time.
If you have an older cat and they have just started their bad litter box habits, then there are several reasons why the issue has arrived:
The tray might be dirty. Cats have a different idea about hygiene than we do. You might not smell something but they do. If you cannot clean the tray daily, then invest in a self cleaning system.
The litter box could be in an area with a large amount of noise. Try relocating it to an area that is quiet. Cats tend to feel scared in an area with a large amount of racket.
Just like humans, cats are known to be picky and set in their ways. Your cat might prefer a different type of litter. Return to the previous brand until you have found something that your feline likes. Cats also hate change, so try not to switch brands often.
If there is more than one cat using the litter box, then it might be slightly crowded. Cats are very territorial and it is best for each feline to have their own bathroom spot.
A medical problem is the last scenario. If urination or defecation has become painful for the cat, it will blame the box on the problem and try to go somewhere else. The only way to solve this is to take the cat to the vet.
Always remember that cats are very clean animals. They despise litter box problems just like you do. The problem is that they need your assistance to fix it. Your veterinarian will have other ideas for you to try, and he or she might have some reading information as well.
Marc de Jong is a journalist, webmaster and long-time cat lover. He's the owner of http://www.cat-pregnancy-report.com, a highly popular site on cat care and pregnancy in cats.