Cat Litter 101

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Maintaining a clean and comfortable place for your cat to relieve himself is the easiest way to ensure that you don’t arrive home to an unpleasant surprise. Here, a guide to maintaining an orderly and odor free litterbox.

Keeping your cat indoors promotes health and longevity, but it does come with a few trade-offs, such as scooping cat litter. However, maintaining a clean and tidy litterbox will ensure that your cat uses it, preventing accidents around your house.

Know the Fundamentals

When it comes to a suitable litter material, the basic requirements are fairly simple:

1. The litter must be sturdy enough to support the cat’s weight.

2. It must allow for easy digging and burying.

3. Its odor—if it has one—can’t be offensive to your cat.

Pick Your Litter

There’s no shortage of new and innovative cat litters on the market, some made from recycled paper, some in the form of plastic crystals, and some that smell like pine trees. But you don’t always get the final say.

If your cat doesn’t like the type of cat litter you’ve purchased, you’ll probably find out the hard way. You may need to experiment with multiple types of litter in order to find one your cat will use.

The most popular choice is unscented scoopable cat litter. Despite the fact that you’d prefer the scent of a freshly cut flowers, cats generally want to be able to identify their own scent in their litterbox. Plus, scoopable litter allows you to remove your cat’s solid waste and urine clumps. In theory, this helps unscented litter remain relatively unscented.

When Your Cat Won’t Use the Litterbox

Since cats are naturally clean animals who bury their waste instinctively, they generally prefer the litterbox to, say, your carpet. However, if your cat finds something about the litter unappealing, he may suddenly stop using the litterbox.

If your cat chooses the floor over his litterbox, don’t panic. Instead, work your way through the following list of possible solutions.

1. Stay consistent. If you recently switched litter brands, that might explain your cat’s poor bathroom etiquette. If you’re bringing home an adult cat for the first time, find out which type of litter he’s accustomed to.

2. Don’t move the litterbox. Cats are creatures of habit and generally don’t take it kindly when someone relocates their litter. The best spot for a litterbox is in a quiet space that’s not too close to your cat’s food dishes.

3. Clean it up. If you’ve fallen down on the job, janitorially speaking, your cat may want to avoid the litterbox every bit as much as you do. A daily scooping is recommended, along with a complete cleaning and litter refill every two weeks.

4. Upgrade to a bigger box. The litterbox may simply be too small for your cat.

5. Buy more litterboxes. If you have more than one cat, you may need to get each one his own litterbox, as some cats refuse to share.

6. Use less litter. Most cats prefer their litter between one and two inches deep.

If you’ve gone through this list and your cat still won’t use its litter, consult with your vet; he may be able to address any medical or behavioral issues.

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