When it comes to toileting etiquette what do our feline friends really want?
Toileting ‘crimes’ within the home is one of the most common behavioural complaints of cat owners. A common treatment strategy is to offer a litter tray buffet to allow the cat to choose their toilet of choice. The buffet may include offering litter trays of different sizes, re-locating trays to improve privacy (and while I am on the topic, cats do not like to toilet next to a mirror – the cat watching them in the reflection is a total put off), changing the type and depth of litter and offering a tray that is uncovered. It is the covered versus uncovered tray option that puzzled scientists E Grigg, L Pick and B Nibblett and became the focus of a study which was presented at the 2013 ACVB/AVSAB Animal Behavior Symposium. The study focused on the toileting preferences of nearly 30 cats over a 14 day period. While a minority of cats in the study showed a preference for either covered or uncovered trays the general consensus was that the overall preference was for a clean tray over a dirty tray.
What’s the final word on feline ablutions?
1.Ensure urine and faeces are scooped daily and litter dumped entirely every week is important in maintaining your cats toilet in mint condition.
2. Allow for individual preferences, since some cats think of the litter tray as a one-use-only item and may need waste scooped after each use.
3. Provide one toilet for each cat in the household and one extra for luck.
4. Use low irritant solutions to clean litter trays e.g. dishwashing liquid.
5. When problems arise, take your cat to your regular veterinarian to rule out urinary tract infection and when given the all-clear offer a litter tray buffet.