Ask the Expert..Nov Dec 11

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: I have three cats – the problem I have is that they keep peeing everywhere – how do I stop this? How do I get them used to using the litter box?
– Shanaz Kader, Mumbai
Dr KG Umesh: Cats are naturally clean animals, for whom litter tray training is usually a relatively simple procedure. Kittens should start to use a litter tray as soon as possible. Ideally, the day that you bring your new kitten or cat home, you should make her aware of the location of the litter tray. The litter tray should be positioned in a quiet area of the house so that the cat may use it in private. The tray should not be sited near the cat’s feeding bowls, since cats do not like to soil the area near their food. It is best to provide a plastic litter tray which sides are not too deep, so that the kitten may easily get in and out, but will provide an adequate depth of litter in which she may bury her faeces. As the kitten grows up, the litter tray will need to be increasingly deeper. This will not only ensure that the litter is not scratched everywhere when the faeces is buried, but also that the cat does not ‘miss’ the tray when urinating.
Young kittens will often want to urinate and defecate when they wake up and after they have eaten. When litter training kittens, it is important to place them on the litter tray at these times and reward them for eliminating in the appropriate place. You will soon know when your cat is looking for a suitable place to use as a toilet, since she will start sniffing, scratching and begin to crouch, try to catch her and place her in the litter tray at this point. If your cat has a little ‘accident,’ clean up the soiled area, best with a non-ammonia based product, since your cat may perceive the smell of ammonia to be similar to urine.
Soiled litter should be removed at least once a day, ideally faeces should be removed as soon as you discover them. At least once a week the litter tray should be completely changed and the tray thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
If none of the above solves the problem of your cat soiling in inappropriate places, you should have your cat checked by a veterinarian to ensure that the problem is not due to an underlying medical condition.