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?

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 will pick a finely grained unscented litter much like the sand in a child’s sandbox.  Also, most prefer litter to be 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, 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 prefer the box to be uncovered and not have a liner.

Another cat preference: safety. The box would have at least two ways for the cat to enter and exit—so the cat could not be trapped while using it. It would be in a quiet location, away from noisy appliances and well way from the cat’s food and water bowls.

Most importantly, the litter box would be clean. Scoop the box daily and completely change the litter at least once a month for clumping litter, weekly for clay litter. Wash the box with warm, soapy, water and dry thoroughly before replacing the litter.

For more information on the feline health and behavior services Dr. Carney offers, please click HERE.

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