Litter Box Problems - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

Litter Box Problems

Housetraining

When a cat starts urinating inside its home, whether male or female, neutered or not, the pet is trying to apply its personal identity "brand" on the territory. It is a sort of feline mark of Zorro, saying, "I am here and here to stay!" The underlying reasons for this problem range from under- to over-indulgence by people, or the presence of another cat's urine inside or outside the home. From the pet's point of view the behavior is quite natural and achieves its goal of temporary relief from feelings of insecurity about its territory. However, the odor and discoloration accompanying it provide cat owners with nothing but eyesores and offended nostrils.

Puddles

Spraying is different from simple puddles of urine around the home. If your problem is the puddling type, you will need to provide your pet with a simple house training plan centered on a litter box or an area that you want your cat or kitten to use as a toilet place. It is not difficult. Most felines, given a chance to dig a little hole in the area, will acquire a lifelong habit of using it. The trick in establishing the habit is to praise the pet immediately after it has completed its duty right there at that place, not when it has left the area. Along with this procedure it is of utmost importance to keep the litter box or other area cleaned up daily. Further, the litter material must be replaced with clean material at least once a week, depending on the area's size and size of your pet. Bigger cats use litter material quicker than do tiny cats or kittens. So, as kittens mature, it may be necessary to change from once a week to a twice a week schedule. In my experience this is the single, most overlooked aspect of raising and training cats. So many of my clients have said,"Tabby was just perfect for the first six months, and then this terrible soiling started around the house!" Too often we forget that our kittens so soon become cats.

Clean-Up

Another important step is proper clean-up of accidents whether from puddling, defecation, or spraying behavior. Although there are several commercial liquids available for cleaning, plain lukewarm water mixed half and half with white vinegar is about as effective as anything. This mixture should be doused or sponged generously on the area so as to dilute the offensive residue. Allow it to remain for about ten minutes, then completely blot it up with paper towels until dry to the touch. Then repeat the process once more.

Spraying

To solve the problem of spraying urine, you will need to consider the total life you are leading with your pet. The arrival of a new baby, another pet, house guests, etc., may result in the cat getting less attention than it is accustomed to receiving. If this is the case, make it a point to have a couple of play sessions each day. Use a favorite toy and really get involved with your pet for a few minutes in each session.

If you think you are doting too heavily, petting too much, or otherwise overindulging your cat, taper off gradually from the stroking and petting and introduce the play sessions. Play is a necessary aspect to many cats. Too often as our kittens grow up, we forget about playing. Quite naturally the cat feels the loss. The result can be spraying. Play sessions have proved most valuable in solving the problem.

Feeding

Besides play sessions and applying proper clean-up procedures, another step should be taken which involves feeding. Before going into detail about this, it is necessary to appreciate that cats are basically fastidious animals about their toilet habits. They loathe to eliminate in the same area as they eat. This makes sense for the propagation of the species and is probably part of their genetic behavioral potential. That is to say...given the opportunity to be hygienic, cats will be so. Therefore the final step in solving the spraying behavior exploits this tendency. If your pet has a favorite spot for its spraying, feed it at that spot, after proper cleaning the area, of course. If it has two spots, split each feeding into two dishes and place them at the spots. Leave the dishes down between feedings, washing them before each feeding time. This should be done until four days have passed wherein the cat has not soiled in these areas. Then resume feeding at the regular place.

If your pet regresses and soils or sprays again, re-start the spot feeding program until another four days perfect performances have been achieved. Then, it is back to feeding at the regular location! Keep this up until the problem is resolved. In case you wondered, the most spray areas an owner has had to deal with in this plan is thirteen. That's right...the pet's food ration was split between thirteen dishes! But it took only two weeks for the problem to clear up. The problem had existed for two years prior to my plan, so it was worth applying the entire program.

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