Kitty Litter Preferences
This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.
Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.
Inappropriate bathroom habits are the number one reason cats are
surrendered to animal shelters. One of the most common complaints veterinarians
hear from cat owners is about “inappropriate elimination”. Inappropriate
elimination is different from “territory marking ” or spraying. Spraying is
depositing a small amount of urine onto a vertical surface, such as a wall.
Elimination is done in a squatting position and is release of a larger amount of
urine. Some cats refuse to use their litter box altogether and instead leave a
“deposit” next to it. This behavior seems to say, “You’re close to what I want,
but not quite.” So what does a cat really want for kitty litter?
The kitty litter market is akin to the cold cereal market: all the
boxes are brightly colored and cute, you read all the labels and don’t
understand half the information, and in the end you base your decision
on which has the best toy offer on the back of the box.
First you must rule out a medical cause for your cat’s inappropriate
elimination, then you can consider behavioral problems. The litter box should
be in a quiet, secluded area that’s easily accessible. For litter, most cats
prefer a clumping clay litter so the wastes can be removed. Scoop the litter
daily and making sure there are an adequate number of cat boxes available. These
simple measures can decrease inappropriate bathroom behaviors. Other available
litter types include:
- non-clumping clay litters
- pelleted litters (e.g. pine sawdust compressed into pellets)
- absorbent beads
If you’re unsure of which product your cat would prefer, set up several
boxes with different litter types. This “litter box smorgasbord” allows
the cat to choose and they’re clearly stating their preference so you
can oblige them in the future.
Finding the correct kitty litter for your cat will make both your lives
easier. The cat will like its litter box and use that preferentially to
your carpets or walls. Cats are wonderful pets, but not highly endorsed
This Pet Health Topic was written by Sarah Hoggan, Washington State
University, Class of 2001.
Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you
or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.
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