Cat Care – Litter and Litter Boxes

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,448
    Dr. Candy Olson, owner of Greenbriar Animal Hospital discusses litter and litter box care.

    Candy Olson

    Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.

    Hi, I am Dr. Candy Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital. Were making a video on tips for how to take care of your cat at home. This section is on how to best do the litter box issue. One of the biggest problems with cats today is that theyre not always good about using the litter box. Some cats are really good, some cats are really bad, some cats are hit and miss, there are a bunch of things that you can do to maximize your chances that your cats will use the litter box religiously. A Couple of them are pretty standard and kind of self-explanatory, clean the box everyday. If you have more than one cat, I dont recommend using those mechanized ones that self clean, the reason is a lot of cats get spooked by them. The way they work is the cats goes in the litter box, theres a little timer, waits like five or ten minutes, until usually the cat has left, then it goes through and cleans. Well, if you have more than one cat, at that point the other cat may have come in there and go eek, its moving. So, theyre a great thing if you just have one cat, if you have more than one cat, not so good. There are a lot of different litters that you can use. One of the big things about kitty litter is that cats get used to a particular type, and its a really bad thing to change it. So, you want to make sure that you dont ever actually run out of your kitty litter. There are certain types of litters that are better and worse to use. You dont want to use a litter that has a deodorant or a scent to it. You want to try and get litters that arent quite as dusty. Some litters are real dusty, and the cat digs in them, and clouds of stuff come up. You dont want to use litter box liners, those plastic liners, again, because most cats dont like them. Well, lot of cats will use them, if they dont like it very much, it doesnt take much to tip them over the edge and say huh, Im going to go in the carpet instead. The other thing thats really important is to have enough litter boxes, and for a lot of people today thats a problem. Even if you need to investigate, there are several companies that make particular pieces of furniture, for example, that you can put a litter box in. It looks likes end table or a coffee table, something you can put in your living room or dining room if you need to. But its very important to have enough litter boxes. How many is enough? One per cat, one per floor of your home, whatever is more. So, if you have one cat and a two storey home, you need two litter boxes. If you have four cats and a one storey home, you need four litter boxes. Lot of people say well, gosh, I have got four cats, I have got two litter boxes, theyve been doing fine, they havent had any problems. Yeah, I know, but these are tips for how to minimize problems, maximize the litter box use. Its always helpful to do it on a preventive basis rather than change it once youre already having problems. The different types of litter that were talking about, there are lots of different ones. This is a standard, for example, regular clay litter, this is the most common thing out there, and theres nothing wrong with this litter. Cats do develop likes and dislikes and have a tendency to prefer one kind of litter over another. So, if your cats not using the box, or you have got a cat who uses it sometimes and doesnt others, try some different litters. But, leave the old litter box there with the old litter in it, put a new box with the new stuff, so that there are choices there. This is a different kind of litter, its made out of recycled newspaper. These are actually little pellets, theyre very absorbent, and its another type of litter. This is a third type, these are actually silica pellets, and the way these work is they absorb the urine, so that there is very little urine odor, over time these pellets turn yellow, you scoop the stools out. The handy thing about this stuff, if youre not really good about constantly scooping the litter, is the way its meant to work is you dump in a bag, you scoop it out every day, and mix up the litter, and after two to four weeks, depending upon how many cats are in your household, you dump the whole thing. So, its a little bit more user friendly, and it does tend to be low in dust as well.

    The other thing, I personally like this, I use this kind of litter for my cat, because she is a digger, and she flings the litter, and its very hard to vacuum up some of the other stuff, this stuff vacuums up from anywhere, just a little tip. The most popular type of litter, we dont actually have here to show you today, most people with cats are familiar with it, is the regular clumping kind of litter, that when they urinate in it, it forms a little clump so that you can just scoop it out.

    If you were to look at all of the types of litter and say what do cats like the best? Most cats prefer that clumping kind of litter that almost looks like sand. That is the number one type of preference there, but all of these can be used. There are others as well, these are just some of the common ones. If youre having any issues with your cat about using a litter box or not, or questions about litter boxes, how many kinds of litter to try, how to do this, dont hesitate to contact your veterinarian, we have lots of information that can help you for it.

    So, thats the tips on litter box use. Next, were going to go over -- some tips on how to give your cat the right amount of exercise.