NINE LIVES BY STACY N. HACKETT
My cat, Phillip, is a digger. By that, I mean he will spend what seems like hours digging the perfect spot in the litter box, then another few “hours” covering up his business. He is serious about this venture and seldom deviates from his routine.
Jack, on the other hand, is a
dasher. His modus operandi is to
conduct his business as quickly
as possible and then race away
from the litter box like someone
is chasing him. Phillip often takes
on additional digging duties on
Thankfully, both 3-year-old
Phillip and 7-year-old Jack use
the litter box faithfully — and
I encourage that behavior by
scooping daily and completely
switching out the litter every
seven to 10 days. A few years ago,
however, Jack started urinating
outside the box. Because it was so
unlike him, I immediately took him
to the vet and learned that he had
a urinary tract infection.
Luckily, Jack made a full recovery and was soon using his box
again. I hope your cat uses his litter
box regularly, too — but if he starts
to stray, consider some of these
age-appropriate litter box tips.
Most kittens use the litter box
regularly by the time they are
old enough to be adopted, said
Marilyn Krieger, certified cat
behavior consultant (The Cat
Coach, LLC) and author. If your
kitten seems unsure of what to
do, confine him in a room with
several shallow, uncovered boxes.
After he eats, place him in a box
and help him imitate digging.
“Litter boxes need to be acces-
sible,” Krieger said. “If the kitten
spends time in the living room,
place a shallow litter box in the
living room. Don’t expect the
kitten to reliably use litter boxes
that are a distance away.”
Don’t worry if your kitten
curls up in the clean litter box for
a nap. It means he’s not afraid of
the box, and that’s a good thing.
Be concerned if your kitten
is eating clay-based litter. A few
bits of litter might be ingested
through natural grooming behav-
ior, but actual eating of litter can
cause intestinal blockages.
THINK INSIDE THE BOX:
Litter Box Tips for