An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Size Matters - Part 1 of Litterbox Blues

I meant to make this entry sooner but I've been recovering from the shock of seeing snow on the ground this early in October. Those soppy, cold flakes are murder on the paw pads.

I raised the topic of litterbox issues amongst my colleagues and now have case after case of litterbox blues.
For example, Harold wrote: I am an adult male with fabulous long fur. When I stretch to full size, I am quite magnificent. Being magnificent is not difficult because I am Maine Coon. Stretching, also, is not difficult but that is another matter entirely. I wanted to report my frustration in dealing with my devoted though somewhat dimwitted human.

We have been together almost all of my ten years and, naturally, she adores me. But she continues to think of me as a kitten. I'm getting fed up with being called her "itty bitty kitty" for I can assure you at at 9 kg (almost 20 pounds American) I am a force to be reckoned with. But I could stomach the indignity of such a moniker, IF she would do something about the size of my litterbox.

I have to use the same litterbox I had when I first joined the household. And it was made for a kitten! Now when I park my presence in it, there is barely room for me to plant all my paws in the litter  and then my rear hangs over the end. Still I mostly manage to keep the liquid in the box; the problem is with the solids.

You'd think the packages I leave just outside the box would be a clear enough message to her about the nature of the problem. But she just doesn't get it. Instead she put a rubber mat around the box to catch my deposits. I cannot bury my waste! Please help.

Fellow felines, since it is near Thanksgiving (at least in Canada), let us concentrate first on those aspects of Harold's living situation for which he can be grateful: adoration and continuity of partnership. As you well know, not all cats are so fortunate. However just because I suggest he count his blessings doesn't mean that I don't empathize with the situation; humans can be trying at the best of times, but the indignity of a baby nickname along with a baby box is far too much for any self-respecting cat to tolerate.

So Harold, here is something to try.

The next time you get the call of nature, make sure to get your human's attention by meowing loudly and insistently. If she ignores you, extend one of your claws and poke her in the shin; that ought to do the trick. When she looks up, start heading toward the litterbox making sure she is following you. Even though herding her may take time and repeated effort, don't let up. Once you both arrive at your destination, do your job. Make a big show of trying to bury your waste.

First, make a few attempts at trying to shred the rubber mat even though we both know it won't work; the only point in doing this is to help her get the message that it's important to you to bury your waste. Many humans don't understand how critical this is for us -- that burying hides the scent and thus keeps predators from knowing where we are. The absence of predators in your home doesn't mean your instinct for cleanliness goes away. Humans should recognize that it's basic instinct for felines to be fastidious. Oh dear, I must stop ranting and get back to the point.

Now where was I? Oh yes, second, lift that mat with your paw. You're strong; you can do this. Swat those little brown cigars of yours under it. Then for good measure, knead the mat so you squish them right into the floor!

She should immediately see the problem and set out to rectify it. She may have a cat magazine or pet supply catalogue handy. If so, get it and shred all the pages except those showing large litterboxes. Leave it where she is sure to find it. Surely even the dumbest human would get that message!