If you’re a cat owner, you probably have a litter box or two (or more!) in your home. You might not enjoy the cleanup, but having a litter box around is important for your cat. Let’s find out why cats use litter boxes.
Why Do Cats Use Litter Boxes?
In the wild, big cats don’t use a litter box, but domestic cats, especially those that live primarily indoors, need litter box for a number of reasons. Let’s explore them:
- It’s Their Instinct
- Kittens have a natural instinct to pass urine and feces in a sandy substrate like dirt, gravel, wood chips, or cat litter. This makes litter box training relatively easy for kittens.
- They Can Cover Their Scent
- Digging allows cats to bury their waste, preventing them from attracting predators. They’ll often use soil and dirt after eliminating outdoors to cover their smell.
- Cats Like To Dig
- Digging is a normal cat behavior. When they dig and scratch in their litter tray, they release their scent, marking their territory and letting other cats know this is their spot.
- They Feel Safe
- Cats are vulnerable while eliminating, so they prefer a safe and secure environment. This may be an open litter box in a quiet corner or a covered box for extra privacy.
- It Helps Keep Them Clean
- Cats are very clean creatures. A litter box keeps them clean by absorbing liquids and reducing odors. However, make sure it’s not placed too close to their food or water bowls.
What if Your Cat Has Stopped Using Their Litter Box?
If your cat has started peeing or pooping outside their litter box, here are some things to consider:
- Do You Have Enough Litter Boxes?
- Cats prefer their own space. Ensure you have one more litter box than the number of cats in the house to prevent territorial issues.
- Are the Litter Boxes in the Right Location?
- Cats appreciate privacy. Place the litter box in a quiet area where they won’t be disturbed.
- Are You Using the Best Cat Litter?
- Cats have preferences for litter type. Experiment with different substrates to find what your cat likes best.
- Would Your Cat Prefer a Different Style of Litter Box?
- Consider the age and preferences of your cat. For instance, a young kitten may struggle with a box with tall sides.
- Is Your Cat Stressed?
- Stress is a common cause of litter box issues. External factors like other cats or loud noises can contribute. Consult a veterinarian or behaviorist if needed.
While it might be tempting to encourage your cat to go outside, most cats prefer using a litter box. Trying to force them to toilet outside could lead to stress and further problems. Embrace the litter box as a necessary part of cat ownership!