Cats can be mysterious and wonderful creatures. They can be curious, distant, affectionate, cold, playful, and disinterested – all during the same encounter with their owners! Treasure Valley cat owners are fortunate to have a true cat specialist here for help on behavior and medical issues. Dr. Hazel C. Carney, DVM, MS, ABVP, has not only devoted her study and practice to felines, she is a co-author of the Feline Behavior Guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Using those guidelines, Dr. Carney compiled the following information addressing cat litter boxes:
If a cat could design its own litter box, what would it be like? Maybe a little different than what humans have in place. First, if more than one cat lives in the household, each cat would have its own litter box and the group would have one extra box. In addition, litter boxes would be in several different locations, including some on each floor of the house.
Each box would contain the types of litter that the individual cat prefers. Most cats, if they have a choice, will pick a finely grained unscented litter much like the sand in a child’s sandbox. Also, most cats prefer litter to be about 1.5 inches deep (although kittens and senior cats may prefer shallow litter). The box would be easily accessible, with one side very low so that kittens with short legs or senior cats with achy bones can enter easily. It would also be much bigger than the typical boxes we provide for our felines— at least as big as 1.5 times the length of the cats’ bodies. To create a box of this size, consider using a sweater storage box, a cement mixing tub, or a litter pan designed for dogs under 35 pounds. Cats also prefer the box to be uncovered and not have a liner.
Another important cat preference: safety. The litter box would have at least two ways for the cat to enter and exit—so the cat could not be trapped while using it. The box would be in a quiet location, away from noisy appliances like the washing machine and well way from the cat’s food and water bowls.
Most importantly, the litter box would be clean. The cat would have an owner who scoops the box daily and completely changes the litter at least once a month if the box has clumping litter, or at least every week if the box has clay litter. The cat’s owner would also wash the box with warm, soapy, water and dry the box before replacing the litter.
Dr. Carney is a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), distinguishing her as one of a very small group of veterinary specialists (there are only 900 ABVP Diplomates in the United States and abroad).
This is an incredible distinction. Beyond completing veterinary school and becoming a board certified specialist recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), earning Diplomate status requires many more years of study, practice, and exams. ABVP Diplomates have proven knowledge and expertise and have earned the privilege to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of animals.
For more information on the feline health and behavior services Dr. Carney offers, please click HERE.