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I am not a tattle-tale kind of girl under ordinary circumstances, however, in this case I dont think Basta would mind me talking about an issue she had. Basta is a cat we adopted about 16 years ago. She was given up for adoption because of inappropriate bathroom habits. Translated, that meant that she would not always use her litter box and would wee in alternative locations, like behind the couch and in a shoe in a closet. The vet had ruled out any medical reason for not using the box and the family who gave her up was totally frustrated.

Litter box avoidance and inappropriate elimination is right up there as a top irritant for cat owners and a primary reason that many cats are given up for adoption. Once a medical reason has been ruled out, it may be that the litter box is not up to his/her standards or that the cat is trying to tell the owner something. The way they communicate this is through wee-mail, if you will.

What are they trying to say? Lets look at the litter box. Where is the box kept? Is it down in the basement near the washing machine that makes a lot of noise? Placing the litter box near a water dish or next to where the cat is fed is not a good location. How would you like to have to eat in the bathroom? Cats like quiet, safe, private places to do their business.

Dirty litter boxes are a real problem. Cats are very fastidious and have extremely sensitive noses so if it smells bad to you, imagine what it smells like to them. Your apparently tame little feline is still a wild animal at heart. Covering up their waste keeps predators from finding them. A dirty box is like a neon sign. Keep the box clean with soap and water, avoiding harsh, strong-smelling products that offend the nose and which could potentially be harmful.

The size and shape of the box does matter. A big cat in a tiny box will not be comfortable.  Some cats hate the hooded cover. It keeps in the smells and a cat can feel trapped when they enter the box.  An older cat with arthritis may have trouble with an opening that is too small or with sides too high. Basta did not like the liners as they crinkled when she stepped in, so we stopped using them.

Then there are kitty litter preferences.  Did you know there are at least seven basic categories of kitty litter? Regular clay, clumping clay, plant-based made out of corn or wheat, etc., wood, paper, silica pellets and a new one, a medicinal litter that acts as an early warning system for owners of cats at risk of urinary tract disease. Not every litter is appropriate for every cat and you may need to experiment with several types to see which they like best.

Okie, dokie then. Now you have the right box, with cat-approved litter, kept clean and in a place that is quiet and private. But are you still getting wee-mail? What else could your frisky feline be trying to tell you?

Has something changed in the household? A new addition, a baby or new rugs, or has your schedule changed? Cats, unlike us sweet, gentle, understanding canines, are prone to anxiety attacks. When they are anxious they exhibit a number of behavior problems, poor bathroom habits being one of them.  Look at the situation from the cats point of view and figure out what is going on. Some reassurance, a few extra treats, some Reiki treatments or acupuncture may be able to help.

Basta came into a multiple cat household. Goblin, our push-faced Persian refused to use the litter after she had been in there. For us it worked out best to have multiple boxes on different floors so there was ample privacy and always a fresh box whenever needed.

Basta is doing great and as long as we keep her bathroom clean and use the litter she prefers, she has no need to send us wee-mail.

Well, keep your feet dry and your tail high.

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