Essential oils, aromatherapy, and potpourri in your home may be pleasant for you, but natural compounds in these fragrances can be dangerous for your cat. Take precautions when using these products so your cat does not have a toxic reaction. If your cat has any liver impairment, it may be best to eliminate these products from your cat's environment.
Essential Oil Toxicity to Cats Years ago, certain essential oils were considered to be safe for cats and were recommended for such uses as treating ear mite infestations, upper respiratory problems and for stress relief. In recent years, however, compelling evidence has demonstrated that essential oils can be toxic to cats, whether taken internally, applied to the skin, or simply inhaled.
The liver is most often the organ which is affected by essential oils. Cats lack certain enzymes that provide the ability to properly metabolize the various compounds in essential oils, phenols in particular. These phenolic compounds occur naturally in some plants and are highly concentrated in essential oils.
Exposure can lead to serious liver damage, liver failure, seizures, or even death for cats.
Essential Oils Potentially Toxic to Cats These oils are known to contain phenols and be toxic to cats:
How Your Cat May Be Exposed to Essential Oils Your cat may be exposed to essential oils you use for your own purposes. Keep any essential oils in a cat-proof cabinet so your curious pet doesn't have access to them. Passive reed diffusers or potpourri pots can be knocked over, exposing your cat to the oil-containing liquid. Don't allow your pet to lick your skin if you have applied any products that contain essential oils.
Essential oil and aromatherapy diffusers, candles, liquid potpourri products, and room sprays are sources of airborne essential oils that cats can inhale or lick off their fur. If you can smell the fragrance of the oil, there is oil in the air and it can affect your cat.
Kittens, elderly cats, or cats who have liver or respiratory problems should be kept out of any room where essential oil diffusers are used. Don't wear aromatherapy jewelry when you are around your cat.
Hydrosols Also Dangerous for Cats
Hydrosols are often touted as a more natural, safer alternative to essential oils. Hydrosols are also known as "flower waters." They are the water that remains after steam-distilling flowers or herbs in water, and are less saturated than essential oils
While hydrosols are safer for use on human skin since they do not have to be diluted, they still are dangerous for cats and other pets. The water can hold on to residual matter from the plants that can be toxic if ingested or even inhaled.
Some pets can tolerate hydrosols, but others are more sensitive. Limit your pet's access to them and their scents to minimize the risk of any health issues.
While aromatherapy can be helpful in managing your stress or other conditions, they can be toxic to pets. Take precautions to protect your pets and keep them away from harmful essential oils.
Games can teach your cat a variety of lessons and help him interact with you and other pets in the household. Some experts, such as veterinarians Suzanne Delzio and Cindy Ribarich, authors of Felinestein: Pampering the Genius in Your Cat, believe that games can even boost your cat's I.Q.
Cats are usually pretty good at inventing games to keep themselves amused, but sometimes their creativity needs a boost. To help keep your cat stay amused, active and interested, try some of these games that are easy for you to make and fun for your cat to play. Most involve using items you can find around the house.
1. Table Tennis Without the Table
A lot of games can be played with a ping pong ball. Ping pong balls are lightweight and won't harm your cat or your furniture if they are in the way of a mis-aimed throw. If you have a long hallway, roll the ball from side to side and watch your cat chase it down the hall. If you have no hallway, roll the ball around in the bathtub to amuse Tabby or in any uncarpeted room of the house where there's room for him to run.
2. Losing His Marbles
Place a marble or one-inch rubber ball in an egg carton, preferably one that holds two or three dozen eggs. Show your cat the marble by moving it from one hollow to another. Your cat will get the idea and have fun trying to scoop the marble out of the egg carton to the floor where he can roll it to his heart's content. If you're using a rubber ball, bounce it back into the egg carton and let your cat start all over again.
3. Tap the Sack
When you empty a paper sack of groceries, place the sack on the floor. Tap the end of it, and watch your cat fly into the bag. Keep his interest by tapping whenever the bag with your cat in it comes to rest. As an alternative, roll a ball or crumpled piece of paper into the sack and watch your cat slide into the sack chasing the moving object.
4. Sunshine toy
Good day, sunshine … cat toy. Grab a pair of scissors, and within a couple of minutes, your cat will be on the fringe. Cats love batting this around and you can even place a treat inside for extra play action!
5. All Work and Some Play
If you're doing housework, tie a piece of string around your ankle with an eight- to ten-inch length of it trailing behind. Your cat can chase the string as you walk. Be careful not to step backwards and accidentally step on your cat.
6. Boxed In
Tape together several different sized cardboard boxes that are large enough for your cat to get in and move around. Cut holes in the top of the boxes and cut internal holes so that your cat can move from one box to the other inside them. Drop a ping pong ball in one of the holes. Your cat will have a ball, so to speak, bouncing the ping pong ball from one cardboard box to another.
7. Yards of Fun
Slide a yardstick under a throw rug or scatter rug. Let an inch or so show on the other side of the rug and watch your cat attack the yardstick as you move it.
8. Treasure Hunt
Buy some catnip toys or make them by putting some dried catnip in the toe of some socks and tying the ends. Let your cat play with one of them so he becomes familiar with the toy. Then, hide the toys around the house for your cat to find. Place them under cushions, behind curtains, on windowsills – anywhere your cat is likely to explore.
9. All Wound Up
Purchase some child's windup toys that are small enough to look like prey to your cat - about the size of a large mouse or rat. Wind up the toy and let it roll across a vinyl floor. Your cat will enjoy chasing it as much as a child does.
10. Goin' Fishin'
One of the toys that cats seem to enjoy most are the fishing-pole style toys. The pole should be made from flexible plastic for safety in case your cat leaps into it accidentally. The string should be made with 50-pound fishing line. Purchase a pole-toy that has a three-inch swatch of fabric folded in half and tied to the end of the fishing line. The fabric mimics the movement of a moth or other insect in flight and is more apt to fascinate your cat than frighten him, which some of the larger objects attached to the pole toys may do. You can swing the fishing-pole toy to a radius of six or seven feet all from your easy chair. These toys are excellent ways to exercise your cat if you are confined to a wheel chair. When your cat is finished playing with the toy, put it away so he doesn't chew on and swallow the string.
For activities that will teach your cat and boost his intelligence quotient at the same time, read Felinestein: Pampering the Genius in Your Cat by Susanne Delzio, Cindy Ribarich (HarperCollins, 1999). Felinestein includes 100 games and activities, for every type of owner and every personality of cat, that will get your cat exploring, thinking, and making decisions.
It is sometimes said that because cats are fussy eaters they are less easily poisoned than dogs. However, because of their curious nature and the fact that they will groom any substance off their coats and ingest it, intoxication is not that uncommon.
Other factors predispose cats to becoming ill once they have been exposed to a poisonous substance; these include their small body size, their ability to hide so that exposure is not immediately evident, and because cats, being specialist carnivores, lack certain liver enzymes, they are unable to breakdown certain chemicals. It is because of this that when cats become poisoned they are perhaps less likely to recover than dogs.
How can a cat become poisoned?Cats can be poisoned in a number of ways:
It is important to remember that while most cases of intoxication will cause acute problems, chronic intoxication can also arise, and often proves even more difficult to recognise and treat.
What should I do if I think my cat has been poisoned?
The cat's collar should be removed as it may also have been contaminated. Also, some flea collars contain chemicals which may be harmful to sick cats. To remove chemicals from the coat it is best to clip off contaminated hair and then wash the cat in warm soapy water. It is important to remove as much of the contamination as possible before washing because the process of washing can increase the absorption of some chemicals. The cat must then be dried fully to prevent it from chilling. Oily material can be removed by rubbing it with clean, warm cooking oil, then wiping it off thoroughly, (ie, remove oil with oil).
If you feel the cat may have ingested any toxin it should be taken to the vet. Even if the contamination is confined to the coat, it is important that the cat should be encouraged to drink as this will help to wash out any absorbed toxins.
After any exposure to possible poisons it is advisable to keep the cat under observation in a warm, quiet room for 24 hours.
Common poisonsIn many cases of poisoning in cats, the poison in unknown. However, there are many substances within the home which are potentially poisonous to cats.
Never give cats products intended for people (unless instructed otherwise by your vet)
To avoid accidental poisonings:
If you’re a cat lover, sometimes it’s hard to stop at one cat. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to bring in an additional kitty, there are some careful things to make the transition as easy as possible. Most cats are not fast friends, and it can take an ample amount of time before the two warm up to one another. Try our helpful tips to get your two cats on the track to becoming lifelong bffs
1. Take things slow
First impressions mean a lot in the eyes of a cat. You have to remember that bringing a new cat into the home might confuse your “king/queen of the house” cat, so this is a major adjustment to your cat’s life. Not all cats will immediately get along and it’s important to integrate the two gradually as not to overwhelm the other.
2. Be sure that new kitty has his own litter box
Although you have a litter box in the home for your current cat, when integrating the two together it’s best to keep some things separate. This rule should apply for the time being until the two can be properly acclimated to one another. Baby steps will ring true for this feline-integrating scenario.
3. Be sure that both of your cats have individual places to retreat
Not all cats will hit it off with a bang, and some may take an extended period of time to feel comfortable around each other. To help both of your cats become acquainted on their own be sure that they each have individual hiding places so they can rest and sneak away in peace.
4. Get a new food bowl for new kitty
When introducing your new cat it’s important that each cat has their own food/water bowl. Not only this, but be sure that the food supply for both cats is out in the open, and not in a confined space. Your cats shouldn’t be made to feel as if they are now forced to share food, and with their own food and water dishes they won’t have to.
5. If your cat isn’t spayed/neutered this may soon be a problem.
While introducing cats of the opposite sex won’t present an immediate issue, it may if your new cat/existing cat takes a liking to the other one. Unless you want a litter of kittens in your future be smart and fix one, if not both, of your kitties.
6. Practice extra precaution if introducing a kitten with an older cat.
Not all older, calmer cats are crazy about hyper little kittens. Bringing a playful kitten into the home may irritate your cat if they’re a bit older, so try to let the kitten play with your cat in small doses as not to pester them and kitten get swatted as a result. On the plus side, introducing a kitten in the mix won’t cause your older cat to feel threatened like they would if introducing a grown cat.
Can I Clean My House With Apple Cider Vinegar?
Many commercial cleaning products are not safe to use around cats. The chemicals in these products can be extremely toxic, and even deadly. Cats are especially susceptible since they groom themselves by licking and as a result ingest anything that comes in contact with their feet or fur.
Additionally, the chemicals in and fumes resulting from cleaning products can cause allergic reactions in cats (and humans, for that matter). Many chemical cleaning products pollute the air inside your home by off-gassing toxic fumes, or they contain antibacterial substances that are not only unnecessary, but can actually contribute to bacteria becoming more resistant to killing agents.
Thankfully, there are alternatives to these chemical products that are not only safer for your cats, but also gentler to the planet. And they’re inexpensive! Allegra was kind enough to pose with two of my go to cleaning products for this post. You’d be surprised what you can do with vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and lemon juice.
FloorsUse a vinegar and warm water solution on wood, ceramic tile, linoleum or vinyl flooring. Since cats are so low to the ground, using a non-toxic cleaner on floors is especially important. If you’re using a carpet steam cleaner, use a water and vinegar solution (one part water to one part vinegar) in the reservoir.
Bathrooms and KitchensDust surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens with baking soda and wipe with a moist cloth or sponge. Vinegar and warm water work well, too. If you need to get rid of mildew or grease stains, spray them with lemon juice, wait a few minutes, and then use a stiff brush to scrub away the residue.
Unclogging a DrainHave you ever read the warning label on a bottle of drain cleaner? It’s enough to make you afraid to even open the bottle. Use baking soda and vinegar instead. Pour a few tablespoons of baking soda down the drain, and follow with a cup of vinegar. The foaming action of the two products will work away at the clog. Rinse with hot water.
FurnitureOlive oil, or olive oil and lemon juice (two parts olive oil, one part lemon juice) makes a wonerful furniture polish.
OvenI do not recommend using the self-cleaning feature on ovens. I find myself reacting to the fumes released during the cleaning process, so I can only imagine how more sensitive cat noses will react. Use a paste of baking soda and water instead: coat the inside of your oven, let it sit overnight, and then scrub away the grime the next day.
Dryer SheetsThe chemicals contained in dryer sheets (as well as fabric softeners and laundry detergents) get absorbed by your skin as well as your cats’ skin. Chemicals contained in these products are known carcinogens and neurotoxins.
Paint fumesSometimes it’s inevitable to expose our cats to toxic fumes (although I have been known to nix remodeling and painting projects because of the impact they might have on my cats). It goes without saying that the area that is being painted should be well-ventilated. If you don’t have an ionic air purifier, set small bowls of vinegar around the room, and change daily. The vinegar will absorb the smell. Leave these bowls out until all paint odor is gone.
While these safe and inexpensive cleaning products may require a little more elbow grease than their chemical cousins, isn’t the peace of mind of knowing that they’re safer for your cats worth the extra effort?
By Dr. Becker
The potential for a flea infestation on your pet, and therefore in your home, is one of the unpleasant parts of pet ownership. Fortunately, it’s not a given that your pet will ever get fleas, and there are many steps you can take to lower the risk.
Many pet owners turn to chemical flea products, including spot-on treatments, collars, powders and more, often believing them to be the only option. However, the pesticides used in these products can pose dangers to your pets and other members of your household, like pregnant women or children snuggling up to your pet.
The fact is, applying too much topical flea product to your pet, or mixing up a dog flea preventive and using it on a cat, can be deadly.
Even when applied properly, there’s no guarantee of safety and serious side effects, from skin irritation to neurological problems, gastrointestinal disorders and organ failure, are all-too-commonly reported.1
Apple Cider Vinegar: Natural Flea PreventionIt makes sense to try a non-toxic flea deterrent whenever possible. Apple cider vinegar is one such option. While it doesn’t kill fleas, per se, it may repel them because fleas dislike its smell and taste.
One of the simplest ways to use this natural flea repellent is to make a solution out of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. I recommend using raw, organic apple cider vinegar.
Add the mixture to a spray bottle and spritz it on your pet before he heads outdoors. You can also spray his bedding. To “supercharge” this spray and make it even more distasteful to fleas, add in a few drops of dog-safe essential oils.
Geranium, lemongrass, lavender, neem and catnip oil are good choices for essential oils that will help deter fleas (as well as ticks, mosquitos and other pests) from your pet. Apple cider vinegar can also be used in other ways to repel fleas, including:
• Add it to your pet’s food. Use about 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar per every 20 pounds of dog. I don’t recommend adding vinegar to your pet’s water because many dogs dislike the taste and consume less than adequate amounts of water.
• At bath time. You can pour diluted apple cider vinegar over your pet during bath time as a flea-preventive treatment. I use 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water.
Pour over a freshly bathed dog (avoid his head), massage into his coat and towel dry, do not rinse. You can also simply add about two cups of apple cider vinegar to his bath water.
Vinegar is a natural, inexpensive alternative to harsh commercial cleaners. Apple cider vinegar offers the same benefits as plain white vinegar and a more pleasant smell. Both have a similar acidity level and can be used to clean and disinfect around the house, on everything from floors to drains. Apple cider vinegar is a nontoxic, biodegradable cleaning alternative
How It Works Cleaning with apple cider vinegar is safe; it effectively removes dirt, mineral deposits and bacteria from surfaces.Though not as effective as chlorine bleach, the mild acidic properties of apple cider vinegar works to kill bacteria on a cellular level. The active cleaning agent in any vinegar is acetic acid, which is safe for most surfaces, but can dull some finishes on wood or no-wax floors and can cause etching in softer stone counter and floor surfaces. A diluted solution of 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon of water safely cleans surfaces without risk of clouding or etching.
Cleaning the KitchenA solution of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water makes an all-purpose cleaner suitable for almost any surface in the kitchen. Use it to clean and deodorize the inside of the refrigerator and microwave. Wipe full-strength apple cider vinegar on wood cutting boards to clean and sanitize them. Add a cup of full-strength apple cider vinegar to the bottom of your dishwasher before running to clean and deodorize the machine and help prevent mineral buildup on your glassware.
Cleaning the BathroomClean bathroom counters, cabinets, sinks and most surfaces with a mix of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. Keep bathroom drains fresh and clean by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by a cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of hot water. Let it sit for 10 minutes; then flush with boiling water. Use apple cider vinegar at full strength on showers and tubs to remove soap scum. The acidity of apple cider vinegar helps cut mineral deposits and other buildup without creating chemical fumes or leaving residue that must be washed off.
Windows and Walls and LaundryUse the 50/50 water and apple cider vinegar mixture to give windows a streak-free cleaning. The same mixture can be used on painted surfaces like walls and cabinetry to clean, remove stains and eliminate odors. Adding a cup of apple cider vinegar to a load of laundry freshens both the laundry, and the machine. Cleaning with apple cider vinegar helps reduce odors and eliminate mold and mildew on any surface. The scent of vinegar can be strong when wet, but as it dries, apple cider vinegar leaves behind a mild, sweet scent.
Christmas is coming!
Christmas is coming! Everyone wants a safe, happy Christmas for people and pets, so here are some tips to make sure your cat enjoys Christmas as much as you do … and avoid that Christmas morning trip to the vet!
Don’t let this list depress you – your cat may not be at all bothered about a lot of the things on the list. Only you know your cat and which things to be careful of. Most of all have a happy time with all those you love – including your cat!
Most of this advice is the same as for houses with young children so taking a few precautions is safer and happier for the whole family.
Christmas Trees and Decorations
Some cats regard Christmas trees as a delightful playground. Others are pretty much uninterested. One of my cats, not the sharpest tool in the box, never noticed the tree was there till around 12th Night! A nimble, careful cat may climb the tree in perfect safety, but just to be on the safe side, think carefully about where you put your tree and what you put on it.
Who can resist giving a good and deserving cat some of the good things around? A little treat does not harm but cats are creatures of routine, and too many tasty extras can quickly lead to upset stomachs!
If you truss your turkey with string, carefully put it straight into your (cat-proof) dustbin! If a cat starts to swallow something, it can’t stop because of the structure of its throat and tongue, so if your pet starts sucking the tasty turkey-soaked string, the whole lot will go down his gullet – never try to pull it out but rush him to the vet as soon as possible or a life-threatening situation will develop.
Gifts, Wrapping and Ribbons
Although your cat probably strongly disagrees, he is not very helpful when you are trying to wrap presents while he is sitting on the paper, getting stuck to the sellotape etc.
Obviously gifts left under the tree will be investigated by your cat, and the same dangers lurk as with tree decorations. It’s better to keep them all somewhere else till Christmas morning when you will be there to supervise. Have a big bag for everyone to bundle their wrapping paper etc straight into to remove temptation. Your cat doesn’t really understand presents – he won’t mind you opening his for him!
...burn paws and curious noses, fall over when brushed against, set fire to waving tails and so on. Keep them out of cat-range and never leave them lighted when you aren’t in the room (which is good avice whether you have a cat or not).
Also be careful of liquid potpouri as it is caustic and poisonous to people and cats alike.
Many cats can’t resist nibbling plants in the home. Most plants are perfectly safe, but there are a few traditional Christmas gift plants that are dangerous for cats. If you are given one of these, either keep them in a cat-proof room or re-gift them to a pet free home.
Amaryllis, daffodils, hyacinths, iris, mistletoe and ALL LILIES are very poisonous to cats. If you think your cat has chewed on any of these, take him to the vet IMMEDIATELY.
Poinsettias are less dangerous but some cats are sensitive to them and can have upset stomachs and vomit if they eat them.
Visitors and Visiting
If you are thinking of taking your cat with you to visit – don’t do it. There are very, very few cats that enjoy this. Your cat will be much happier in her own home with a friendly face coming a couple of times a day to feed and check up on her. Even boarding in a cattery is better than stressing your cat out travelling and then meeting lots of new humans and maybe their pets too.
If you have visitors coming for Christmas, try to keep your cat’s routine as normal as possible. Make sure he has a quiet place to retreat to at all times with his bed, blanket, toys, and wate and food bowls. Train your visitors in cat etiquette! - “Don’t chase the cat – let the cat come to you”. Most dogs enjoy meeting new people – most cats hate it. Don’t scold your cat because she isn’t a dog or an ornament – or because you dropped the turkey and need someone to shout at! And remember that a party popper is a gun as far as your cat is concerned.
The secret of a happy cat-loving home at Christmas is routine, routine, routine! And a safe room is a refuge not just for your cat, but for you when it all gets too much and you need some quality quiet time with your furry friend.
We hope you and your cats have a happy, peaceful and relaxed Christmas
source : https://www.cats.org.uk/oxford/feature-pages/christmas-is-coming
Common Cat Behavior Issues.
Litter Box Problems
At least 10% of all cats develop elimination problems. Some stop using the box altogether. Some only use their boxes for urination or defecation but not for both. Still others eliminate both in and out of their boxes. Elimination problems can develop as a result of conflict between multiple cats in a home, as a result of a dislike for the litter-box type or the litter itself, as a result of a past medical condition, or as a result of the cat deciding she doesn’t like the location or placement of the litter box.
Once a cat avoids her litter box for whatever reason, her avoidance can become a chronic problem because the cat can develop a surface or location preference for elimination—and this preference might be to your living room rug or your favorite easy chair. The best approach to dealing with these problems is to prevent them before they happen by making your cat’s litter boxes as cat-friendly as possible. See our common litter-box management issues below, and our ways to make litter boxes cat-friendly. It is also important that you pay close attention to your cat’s elimination habits so that you can identify problems in the making. If your cat does eliminate outside her box, you must act quickly to resolve the problem before she develops a strong preference for eliminating on an unacceptable surface or in an unacceptable area.
Litter box use problems in cats can be diverse and complex. Behavioral treatments are often effective, but the treatments must be tailored to the cat’s specific problem. Be certain to read the entire article to help you identify your particular cat’s problem and to familiarize yourself with the different resolution approaches to ensure success with your cat.
Why Do Some Cats Eliminate Outside the Litter Box?Litter-Box Management Problems
If your cat isn’t comfortable with her litter box or can’t easily access it, she probably won’t use it. The following common litter-box problems might cause her to eliminate outside of her box:
Some cats develop preferences for eliminating on certain surfaces or textures like carpet, potting soil or bedding.
Litter Preference or Aversion
As predators who hunt at night, cats have sensitive senses of smell and touch to help them navigate through their environment. These sensitivities can also influence a cat’s reaction to her litter. Cats who have grown accustomed to a certain litter might decide that they dislike the smell or feel of a different litter.
Location Preference or Aversion
Like people and dogs, cats develop preferences for where they like to eliminate and may avoid locations they don’t like. This means they might avoid their litter box if it’s in a location they dislike.
Inability to Use the Litter Box
Geriatric cats or cats with physical limitations may have a difficult time using certain types of litter boxes such as top-entry boxes, or litter boxes with high sides.
Negative Litter-Box Association
There are many reasons why a cat who has reliably used her litter box in the past starts to eliminate outside of the box. One common reason is that something happened to upset her while she was using the litter box. If this is the case with your cat, you might notice that she seems hesitant to return to the box. She may enter the box, but then leave very quickly—sometimes before even using the box.
One common cause for this is painful elimination. If your cat had a medical condition that caused her pain when she eliminated, she may have learned to associate the discomfort with using her litter box. Even if your cat’s health has returned to normal, that association may still cause her to avoid her litter box.
Stress can cause litter-box problems. Cats can be stressed by events that their owners may not think of as traumatic. Changes in things that even indirectly affect the cat, like moving, adding new animals or family members to your household—even changing your daily routine—can make your cat feel anxious.
Multi-Cat Household Conflict
Sometimes one or more cats in a household control access to litter boxes and prevent the other cats from using them. Even if one of the cats isn’t actually confronting the other cats in the litter box, any conflict between cats in a household can create enough stress to cause litter-box problems.
Medical Problems That Can Cause Inappropriate EliminationUrinary Tract Infection (UTI)
If your cat frequently enters her litter box and seems to produce only small amounts of urine, she may have a urinary tract infection. See a veterinarian to rule out this possible medical problem.
Feline Interstitial Cystitis
Feline interstitial cystitis is a neurological disease that affects a cat’s bladder (“cystitis” means inflamed bladder). Cats with cystitis will attempt to urinate frequently and may look as if they are straining, but with little success. They may lick themselves where they urinate, and they may have blood in their urine. Feline interstitial cystitis can cause a cat to eliminate outside of her box, but this is only because of the increased urgency to urinate and because there is pain involved in urination. Feline interstitial cystitis is very serious and can be life-threatening to the cat. It must be treated immediately by a veterinarian.
Kidney Stones or Blockage
If your cat has kidney stones or a blockage, she may frequently enter her litter box. She may also experience pain and meow or cry when she tries to eliminate. Her abdomen may be tender to the touch.
Other Behavior Problems to Rule OutUrine Marking
Urine marking is a problem that most pet owners consider a litter box problem since it involves elimination outside the box, but the cause and treatment are entirely different from other litter-box problems and therefore it is considered a rule out. A cat who urine marks will regularly eliminate in her litter box, but will also deposit urine in other locations, usually on vertical surfaces. When marking, she’ll usually back up to a vertical object like a chair side, wall or speaker, stand with her body erect and her tail extended straight up in the air, and spray urine onto the surface. Often her tail will twitch while she’s spraying. The amount of urine a cat sprays when she’s urine marking is usually less than the amount she would void during regular elimination in her box. For more information about this problem, please see our article, Urine Marking in Cats.
What to Do If Your Cat Eliminates Outside the Litter BoxBasic Tips for Making Cats Feel Better About Using Their Litter Boxes
The first step in resolving elimination outside the litter box is to rule out urine marking and medical problems. Have your cat checked thoroughly by a veterinarian. Once your veterinarian determines that your cat doesn’t have a medical condition or issue, try following these guidelines:
If your cat seems to prefer eliminating on a certain kind of surface or in a certain location, you’ll need to make that surface or its location less appealing. If the preference is in a dark area, try putting a bright light or, even better, a motion-activated light in the area. You can also make surfaces less pleasant to stand on by placing upside-down carpet runners, tin foil or double-sided sticky tape where your cat has eliminated in the past. At the same time, provide your cat with extra litter boxes in acceptable places in case part of her problem is the location of her usual litter box, and be sure to give her multiple kinds of litter to choose from so that she can show you which one she prefers. Put the boxes side-by-side for a while, each with a different type of litter, and check to see which one your cat decides to use.
Clean accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize pet odors. You can find this kind of cleaner at most pet stores.
If Your Cat Has Developed a Litter Preference or Aversion
Cats usually develop a preference for litter type and scent as kittens. Some cats adapt to a change of litter without any problem at all, while other cats may feel uncomfortable using a type of litter that they didn’t use when they were young.
If you think your cat may dislike her litter type, texture or smell, try offering her different types of litter to use. Cats generally prefer clumping litter with a medium to fine texture. They also usually prefer unscented litter. To help your cat pick her preferred litter, put a few boxes side-by-side with different types of litter in them. She’ll use the one the she likes best.
Clean accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize pet odors. You can find this kind of cleaner at most pet stores.
If Your Cat Is Unable to Use Her Litter Box
Special-needs cats such as those who are older, arthritic or still very young might have trouble with certain types of litter boxes. Boxes that have sides that are too high or have a top-side opening might make it difficult for your cat to enter or leave the box. Try switching to a litter box with low sides.
As in any situation where the cat may have eliminated outside her box, clean accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize pet odors. You can find this kind of cleaner at most pet stores.
Treatment for Negative Litter Box Association
If your cat has experienced some kind of frightening or upsetting event while using her litter box, she could associate that event with the litter box and avoid going near it. Things that might upset your cat while she’s eliminating in her box include being cornered or trapped by a dog, cat or person, hearing a loud noise or commotion, or seeing something frightening or startling. These experiences—or any other disturbing experience—could make your cat very reluctant to enter her litter box. If your cat is afraid of her litter box, you may notice her running into the box and then leaving again very quickly, sometimes before she’s finished eliminating. You may also notice her eliminating nearby, but not inside her box. This means that your cat is worried about using her box, especially if she has reliably used litter box in the past.
Changing the Way Your Cat FeelsIf your cat associates her litter box with unpleasant things, you can work to help her develop new and pleasant associations. Cats can’t be forced to enjoy something, and trying to show your cat that her litter box is safe by placing her in the box will likely backfire and increase her dislike of the box. It’s usually not a good idea to try to train your cat to use her litter box by offering her treats like you would a dog, because many cats do not like attention while they’re eliminating. However, a professional animal behavior consultant, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) may be able to help you design a successful retraining or counterconditioning program. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about locating an applied animal behavior professional.
Sometimes retraining to overcome litter-box fears or aversions may not be necessary. Here are some steps that you can try to help your cat learn new pleasant associations:
Cats sometimes stop using their litter boxes when they feel stressed. Identify and, if possible, eliminate any sources of stress or frustration in your cat’s environment. For instance, keep her food bowls full and in the same place, keep her routine as predictable as possible, prevent the dog from chasing her, close blinds on windows and doors so she isn’t upset by cats outside. If you can’t eliminate sources of stress, try to reduce them. Incorporate the use of sprays or diffusers that deliver a synthetic pheromone that has been shown to have some effect in relieving stress in cats.
Treatment for Multi-Cat Household Conflict
Sometimes an elimination problem can develop as a result of conflict between cats who live together. If you have multiple cats and aren’t sure which cat is soiling, speak with your veterinarian about giving fluorescein, a harmless dye, to one of your cats. Although the dye does not usually stain carpeting, it causes urine to glow blue under ultraviolet light for about 24 hours. If you can’t get or use fluorescein, you can temporarily confine your cats, one at a time, to determine which one is eliminating outside of the litter boxes in your home.
If there is a conflict between your cats and one of them seems stressed, provide additional litter boxes in locations where the anxious cat spends the majority of her time. Also be sure to provide adequate resting areas for each cat. It can very useful in multi-cat households to create vertical resting spots on shelves or window sills or by buying multi-perch cat trees. It may help to distribute resources such as food, water, cat posts or trees, and litter boxes so that each individual cat can make use of them without coming into contact or having a conflict with one of the other cats. Using synthetic pheromone sprays or diffusers can reduce general social stress in your household.
Always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your cat any type of medication for a behavior problem.
Medications can provide additional help in treating inappropriate elimination when the behavior is in response to stress or anxiety. It’s unlikely to be helpful if your cat eliminates outside her litter box because of litter-management problems, an aversion to a particular kind of litter or location, a preference for a particular surface or location, or a physical inability to use the box. If you’d like to explore this option, speak with your veterinarian, a veterinary behaviorist or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who can work closely with your vet. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate one of these professionals in your area
What NOT to DoRegardless of what you do so solve your cat’s elimination problems, here are a few things to avoid:
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