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Colleen Backus, manager of Premium Pet Products, is a well-known Central Arkansas dog trainer whose client list has ranged from the family dog to the canine talent in Come Early Morning, an Ashley Judd movie filmed nearby. Colleen also breeds Border Collies, but before you peg her a “dogs-only person”, you should know her secret: she’s also quite the cat enthusiast!

Last week I visited Colleen at Premium Pet Products and we talked about the smelly issue of:

What to do when your cat stops using the litter box!

One of the great things about owning a cat is its ability to use a litter box, so it’s very confusing for us when they suddenly  stop. As a volunteer at the Little Rock Animal Village, I’ve seen owners surrender their cats to the shelter for this very reason.

Cats can seem very unpredictable at times, leading us humans to think we’ll never understand them, but after reading Colleen’s advice, you will understand why a cat might suddenly stop using its litter box.

If your cat is exhibiting this problem behavior, your first move should be:

1. Take her to the vet

It may be that your cat has a urinary tract infection, so you should rule out this possibility first before proceeding with other solutions.

2. Scoop and Sift

We all know cats are impeccably clean, and some will refuse to use a litter box that doesn’t meet their standards. Scoop the litter box at least once a day. Colleen recommends sprinkling in a layer of Feline Pine litter to help control the odor.

3. Remove the Evidence

If your cat has already urinated on the floor, she will continue to go back to that spot unless the smell is scrubbed away.

4. Consider the Litter

The choices we have in the cat litter aisle are abundant. It could be that your cat doesn’t like the texture of the one you chose. You could try setting up a second box in a different location using a different kind of litter.

5. Environmental changes can upset cats

This is a big one. Cats are very attached to their environment, and adding a new family member, piece of furniture, or pet may have upset your cat’s environment. When adding a new pet to the home, you should restrict the new pet’s space at first. Don’t just release a new puppy into the house with no warning. Keep the new puppy confined to one room with his food and bed.

A house is a big place for a small animal, and introducing him one room at a time will be less overwhelming. Keep the new animal in confinement for at least a few days while your cat gets used to the new tenant. If the newcomer is a cat, it would be wise to have separate litter boxes and feeding bowls.

A great product for house soiling issues is Comfort Zone. It comes in a spray and a wall plug-in and it releases feline pheromones that are calming to cats. Colleen uses it in her shop to keep her cats well-behaved.

6. Listen and Look

If the litter box is near an appliance that makes noise, you may want to move it to a quiet area. Also, make sure your cat doesn’t have to go too far out of her way to get to the litter box.

For more information about cat behavior, visit the Denver Dumb Friends League (Dumb, as in “can’t speak for themselves”), page about cats. It’s a wonderful resource and even features an animal behavior helpline you can call for free advice.

To purchase any of the products mentioned in today’s article, or to inquire about Colleen’s dog training, visit Premium Pet Products at 8212 Cantrell Rd. or call 501-221-9873.


2 responses »

  1. Nevie says:

    this is an extremely useful post. i want to hand it out to everyone who comes into my shelter to give up a cat for box problems. thank you!

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