By Emily Bruer
For many cat owners, the litter box is the bane of cat ownership. It smells, litter goes everywhere, and cleaning it is no fun at all. However, keeping your cat’s litter box clean is extremely important to her psyche as well as her health.
In the wild, cats are very careful with their waste. When urinating and defecating, they are normally very careful to dig and bury their urine and feces. This behavior has two reasons behind it.
The first is that in the wild smaller cats are often preyed upon by larger predators such as coyotes, wolves, owls, eagles, and other large birds and mammals. In an effort to keep their presence hidden from predators, cats keep their scent hidden. Only the large-and-in-charge male cats or extremely territorial females will mark their territories by spraying – and even this marking puts them at risk.
The second reason is that cats are predators themselves. In order to keep their prey from smelling them and knowing they are in the area, they bury their excrement. This keeps cats incognito, and reduces the likelihood that their prey will smell their presence before they are close enough to pounce.
So what does a wild cat’s habits have to do with our domesticated friends?
Indoor cats retain many of the instincts they had when they were wild. Luckily for us, burying their output is one of the instincts they retained.
Now – imagine you are a cat. Would you want to go to the bathroom in a dirty litter box?
As cats dig in the box for a place to go, the last thing they want is their paw to hit a past deposit. This is why if you have a large litter box, you will find that your cat mostly fills up the top portion. She doesn’t want to dig too deep and risk hitting anything yucky.
If you let your litter box get too dirty, chances are your cat will start going either next to the litter box or in another part of your home.
While it’s easy to get mad at your cat for this, you only have yourself to blame. No one likes to use a dirty bathroom, and our meticulously clean feline friends are no different.
Imagine if you had to walk into a dirty porta-potty barefoot, and then lick your feet clean when you were done. It’s pretty gross, and that’s how your cat feels every time she has to use her dirty litter box.
If your cat has started urinating or defecating outside the litter box, the best thing you can do is clean the spot with an all natural enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle. This cleaner is actually made up of good bacteria that will eat away the things that are on or in your carpet; in this case, cat urine and leftover fecal particles. This will almost completely eliminate any lingering odors, and will hopefully prevent your cat from wanting to go in the same place again.
The good news for you if you hate cleaning the litter box is that there are several types of automatic litter boxes on the market. While they are significantly more expensive than your average litter box, they are more than worth it if scooping poop isn’t really your thing.
When choosing which one to buy, be sure to read reviews and pick one that you think your cat will like. I also suggest getting one that can use any brand of litter.
If you don’t want to get an automatic litter box or diligently clean a regular one, consider potty training her! Potty training cats can be a challenge at first, but once they get the hang of it you can say good bye to litter boxes for good.
Emily has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.