As part of a thorough health check, I always ask my clients about common behaviour problems they may be experiencing at home. The most common problem reported to me is that the cat urinates outside the litter tray. I often hear the comment “he only does this when he is mad with us”. There are some small changes that can be made to the litter tray setup that will often resolve the problem behaviour and also make for a happier and more relaxed kitty.
These are my top tips for overhauling your litter tray setup and creating a great toileting experience for your kitty.
1. Make sure you have enough trays
You should have one tray for each cat, and then a spare tray. This means that one cat should have two trays available.
2. Put the trays in an appropriate location
The trays should each be in a separate location, two trays in the one spot is just the same as one big tray. Trays should be placed in a quiet location, away from a thoroughfare and away from anything too noisy like a washing machine.
3. Make sure the trays are large enough
Many commercial litter trays are not large enough for the average sized cat. Your trays should be 1.5 X the length of your cat at least. For some cats, this means getting a bit creative. An underbed storage container can make a great litter tray, and is readily available.
4. Keep the trays clean
Once a litter tray is soiled, most cats will not use it. Faeces and urine should be scooped out daily, and the whole tray should be cleaned twice per week. Make sure to use a gentle detergent that doesn’t smell too strongly.
5. Use a litter substrate that is appealing to your cat
Most cats become quite fussy with the litter substrate they like in their trays. Sticking to the same litter, if this works for your cat is the best thing to do. If you have adopted an adult cat, try to use a litter substrate that they are used to. If you are unsure what they have used in the past you may need to trial a few different types to find out what they like.
6. Seek veterinary advice!
If your kitty has issues urinating outside the tray, this may indicate a medical problem. It is best to have your cat assessed by a vet to rule these causes out before embarking on a plan that is right for you and your cat. Your vet will be best able to assess your individual situation and make recommendations to best help you. Seeking help sooner rather than later will give you the best chance of fixing this issue.