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A Complete Guide to Litterbox Training and Cat Hygiene

A Complete Guide to Litterbox Training and Cat Hygiene

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We’ve covered food, so it’s only logical that we deal with it after it passed through the cat as well. Yes, it’s time to talk about pees and poos.

If a kitten is socialized properly by his mother and siblings, he will not need human intervention to know how to use the litterbox. However, ONE Instance of you placing the kitten in the litterbox and gently using one of his paws to dig into the litter will be enough to let the kitten know how things work. I have taught most of my cats and my parents’ cats to use the litterbox at various ages and it has always worked.

Note: If a cat uses other places in the house instead of the litterbox, it might mean that they are stressed or feeling threatened by a rival (another cat), a change in their lifestyle (like the arrival of a baby or a dog in the family) or another outside factor. Cats never exhibit this behaviour “just to troll humans” like I’ve heard someone immaturely say.

How should the litterbox be?

It should be easily accessible (in a room the cat is always allowed in and can go into at any moment), proportionally sized to fit the cat (the cat has to be able to easily step over the walls of the litterbox and to turn around inside it), filled enough to allow some moderate digging and covering motions.

What kind of litter should I use?

Use unscented litter made either from bio materials or clay. Clumping litter is a type of clay that forms clumps when in contact with moisture. The clumps of feces or urine can easily be removed without emptying the entire contents of the litterbox after every use. This is easy and convenient for the human, but the major cons are dust (cats’ paws sometimes carry grains of litter around the house) and the disposal of the used litter. It usually goes into the main trash can and it’s not recyclable.

The places where cat litter does NOT go are: sinks, floor drains and toilets.

Do not use scented litter. The cats might be put off by the perfume added to the litter and they might choose to do their business elsewhere around the house.

How many litterboxes should I have?


The ideal number of litterboxes should be the number of cats plus one.

Sometimes, some cats decide to assert their authority by hogging a litterbox they prefer and the other cats should always have a back-up or a “neutral territory” where to feel safe and unchallenged. Otherwise, prepare to have your stuff peed and pooped on.

What should alarm me if seen in the litterbox?

If one of your cats has consistently soft, nearly liquid poos, reddish in colour or full of small wriggly things, then a vet visit is in order.

If the cat has a balanced, healthy diet, the poo will be solid and moderately stinky. A lack of proper nutrients and too many preservatives in the food will result in an almost odourless kind of poo, as your cat will be basically eating cellulose with artificial flavours. In the long term, a poor diet not tailored to the cat’s nutritional needs will lead to obesity, diabetes and multiple organ failure.

Particularly stinky poos (the kind you can smell in the TV room if the litterbox is in the upstairs bathroom) can be a sign of a parasitic infestation, which warrants a visit to the vet as well.

What about further hygiene?

If your cat is long-haired, they will sometimes have a “brown keychain” problem, where a poo clings to their rear fur. In this case, make sure your cat’s bottom fur is kept short and out of the way and make sure they have an easy time climbing in the litterbox and squatting. The pooping squat position is very uncomfortable for cats and many cannot hold that level of muscular tension for as long as needed, which results in the aforementioned brown keychains.

Do not try and trim your cat’s rear fur on your own, as you and the cat both can get injured. Leave this to a professional cat groomer.

Should I bathe my cat?

The answer is a definite no. The cat’s fur has a very complex balance of natural oils which keep the cat insulated and protected. A bath is only in order if the fur is very dirty or the cat is infested with fleas or other parasites. If a rash appears on the skin, DO NOT bathe the cat without seeing the vet first, to determine the nature of the rash, as the bath might make it irreversibly worse.

If you’ve had a brown keychain situation, clean the fur locally with a soft cloth and warm water and let the cat do the rest.

Anyone who has cats knows that cats smell very good and very clean all the time, and a change in this pleasant, comforting smell is a reason to worry.

Ear, nose and eye cleaning

Usually, cats keep themselves very clean, but sometimes, they cannot reach certain places or need a helping hand.

The inside of the ears is a particularly hard to reach area for cats, so, in order to prevent parasites and infections settling in, you can periodically use ear-cleaning solution (found at most vet pharmacies and pet supply stores) and some bundles of cotton to gently clean the creases of the cat’s ear. The ear cleaning solution comes with an applicator, like a curved soft plastic tube for easy reach inside the cat’s ears. Before cleaning your cat’s ears, observe a vet, a vet technician or watch a professional-made instructional video on how to clean the ears.

DO NOT use sharp objects or Q-tips in your cats’ ears!

In the case of brachiocephalic (with a short skull and pressed-in face) cats (like British Shorthairs, Exotic Shorthairs, Persians, Himalayans), the nose and eyes need a gentle daily cleaning with a soft cotton pad, sometimes even several times a day. Cats without a properly developed nose need to have their airways constantly checked and cleaned in order to be able to breathe.