Dirty Restroom Facilities Create Trouble
Sadie is a large, four year old, spayed calico cat with a big rump. Consequently, she goes outside her box because she backs into a corner to do her business and hangs over the side. I would like to get a box with a cover but I have heard this could contribute to upper respiratory trouble. We have the largest litter box on the planet, but it keeps happening now and then.
Sadie is sending you a message: Her litter pan is a bit ripe. She wants to use it properly but it grosses her out, leading her to limit her derriere’s exposure to this cesspool.
You are correct that bigger litter pans are more likely to be used. Plastic storage bins (recycle the lid) work well if you cut down one part with a utility knife. Without that accommodation big Sadie would have to pole vault into her bathroom. If her over-sized backside handicaps her you can add a ramp. The foundation for good feline restroom etiquette is accessibility and cleanliness.
The rule of thumb is to provide one litter pan per household cat, plus one. With Sadie as your only cat she needs two pans. Add a generous quantity of premium quality (not the cheap stuff) clumping litter. Scoop the clumps twice daily. Once weekly, dump out the litter and wash the pans with a mild detergent. You don’t want the cat loo smelling like the latrine at Sadie’s Girl Scout camp.
For many cats, covered pans are a turn-off. Odors get trapped and the cover makes it hard to see if an extra scooping is necessary. Respiratory distress would be unlikely unless Sadie sets up housekeeping in there.
You are fortunate that Sadie has tried so hard to do the right thing. Many cats would have decorated the furniture to communicate their unmet need for restroom sanitation. It’s important to get a handle on this issue now. If you neglect Sadie’s subtle memos the largest litter box on the planet could turn out to be your house.
Finally, I’m specialty trained in veterinary behavior medicine. That crack about Sadie’s big rump was hurtful. Comments like this are not politically correct and should be considered high-risk behavior. Trust me. I know these things.
Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.