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Why don’t some cats cover their poop?

When your kitty enters the litter box, does her business, but doesn’t bury the “evidence,” it can be quite a conundrum. But don’t worry. We have a bit of advice to help you get to the bottom of it.

Why do cats bury poop in the first place?

While many experts disagree, there are several theories as to why cats bury their poop. For one, Dr. Melissa Bain suggests that the behavior has to do with disease and parasite control. Others speculate that, as both predator and prey, cats bury poop to hide their presence. After all, cats who are apex predators such as lions, tigers, and leopards don’t feel the need to bury their poop. Furthermore, Amy Shojai, CABC also alludes to a study that claims to have observed female cats pooping outdoors 58 times, and only covering the poop once!

What are some reasons that a cat would stop burying poop?

First, you should always rule out medical issues. Changes in litter box behavior are often the first sign of a serious health problem. Once your vet rules out any underlying medical issues, he or she can also help you determine if the root of the issue is behavioral in nature. Changes in routine, introducing a new cat to the home, changing food or litter, or not having enough litter boxes can all lead to an unhappy kitty misusing the litter box.

What about cats who have never buried their poop?

Indeed, some behaviors, such as capturing and consuming prey, are passed down from mother cat to her offspring. Kittens will eagerly observe their mother in the litter box as if thinking to themselves, “So that’s how you do it!” If mama didn’t cover her waste, then it’s likely that her kittens won’t do it either. For cats such as these, you may want to find alternative litter boxes and methods of odor management to minimize the impact of a smelly litter box.

Does your cat have any unusual litter box behaviors? Be sure to tell your pet sitter! Our sitters take extra care to ensure that the litter box is clean and smelling fresh at every appointment.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Angelo Mazotta on pixabay

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Why cats step back out of the litter box to pee or poop

Have you ever seen your cat scratch around in the litter box, only to step back out to poop or pee? Though sometimes a sign of a medical problem, there are actually many reasons your cat might pee or poop outside the litter box.

Dropping hints

Waste outside of the litter box can unfortunately signal that kitty isn’t feeling well. Whether “presents” turn up as pee or poop indicates which organ system might be having problems. For example, stray urine could hint at a urinary tract infection, while poop might be a sign of irritable bowl syndrome or constipation. To rule out health issues, be sure to check in at the vet.

Separating liquids from solids

Because of natural instincts, many cats prefer to urinate separate from where they defecate. If your cat is reserving the box for one type of business, a second litter box for the other type might be in order. Or you may need to change litter more often. Dirty litter means kitty thinks there’s enough clean space to urinate, but not enough to defecate in the same box.

Avoiding anxiety

Your cat might find the litterbox stressful! This is very common in multiple cat households. Tensions between critters results in cats feeling anxious and unable to stay in the box long enough to do business. Try uncovering the box or placing it in an open area, so your cats can see “opponents” and feel like they can easily escape. The wrong type of litter, such as perfumed litter or even dirty litter, can also make cats feel anxious.

Your cat is getting older

Just like humans, everyday functions become more difficult with age. Senior cats with arthritis may not feel physically comfortable enough to perch on their box and defecate. Or, if your cat has been declawed, scratching away at litter could be painful, and so they avoid the box altogether!

Not sure why kitty is peeing or pooping outside the box? Check in with the sitter to see if they’ve noticed any other issues. And of course, our sitters are available to help with any litter cleaning!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by 游 焰熾 on flickr

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How to stop your cat from peeing on the bed in 4 steps

Did your cat pee on the bed…again? Regular accidents on the bed are a stressful and smelly problem. But it’s not hopeless! Learn to tackle those soggy sheets and get the cat back to using her box.

Step 1: Completely clean the urine

First thing’s first. Strip soiled sheets off the bed and do a check to find any and all stains. Use a blacklight to track down spots. To break down the urine, pretreat linens with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle. You can also use the cleaner to blot or soak stains on the mattress.

Step 2: Take preventive measures

You won’t stop the messes overnight but you can start by taking precautions. To save your sheets, cover your bed with an old or waterproof blanket until the habit has stopped. Next, break the habit with the power of scent. Special sprays that mimic cat pheromones can be applied to the bed to keep kitty away. Similarly, you can encourage your cat to use their box with litters containing herbs that attract cats.

Step 3: Double check the litter boxes

The wrong litter box situation can discourage cats from peeing where they’re supposed to. Is their box too dirty? Are there enough litter boxes? Change the litter regularly, and if you’re unsure of how many boxes to use, a good rule is to have one box for each cat, plus one additional box. Also check to make sure the litter box is in a good spot. Cats prefer areas that are safe, clean, quiet, and open (i.e. not a closet or rooms with lots of foot traffic).

Step 4: Take a trip to the vet

When cats pee in noticeable places, they’re usually trying to tell you something. They might be hinting at a disease or even stress. Cats suffering from bladder problems, for example, will feel too anxious to go in their box and find relief elsewhere. Urine on the bed can also point to tensions with one of your other cats, or even you! Your vet will be able to determine if their distress is medical or psychological.

Concerned about your cat’s recent messes? If you’re thinking the box might be too dirty, our cat sitters are available to regularly clean, no matter how many litter boxes you have. And of course, we always check in to report any of your cat’s accidents.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Tina Lawson on flickr

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Stealthy litter boxes

It’s no secret that apartments in New York City are small! There’s but so many places you can hide a litter box. If you don’t like the idea of your dinner guests seeing an unsightly cat pan, there are stealthier hidden options for you.

Litter boxes that look like potted plants

Who doesn’t like the look of a potted plant? They add fresh air, and some houseplants have natural deodorizing and toxin-removing capabilities. Now, you can buy a litter box that looks like a potted plant in a variety of attractive shapes. You can use the faux plant that comes with it, or replace it with a real live version of your own!

Build your own litter box holder

If you’re a crafty sort of person who likes to imagine your kitty as a pirate burying treasure, then you might want to build your own litter box concealment system. Or, if you’d prefer a chic look to your hidden litter box, you can convert an upholstered bench, too!

Keep the litter box in the tub or closet

A tried and true method of litter box concealment for a lot of New Yorkers is to just keep it in the tub or closet. If you put it in the tub, litter boxes that prevent litter scatter are best to avoid having gritty sand in the tub when it’s time to wash up. You’ll also want to avoid washing it down the drain, as it can cause a nasty (and costly!) clog. If you stash the box in the closet, consider adding an organizer or shelving to avoid losing space.

Do you have a clever hiding spot for your litter box? Make sure you show your pet sitter where it is! Our sitters pay extra attention to the litter box to make sure they stay clean and fresh. Book a visit today!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by S G on flickr

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Could your cat be jealous?

Have you recently added a new cat to your family? Have you noticed a change in the behavior of your first kitty? If so, your cat may be dealing with a bit of that green eyed monster called envy.

What are the signs?

Hissing, spraying, growling, and fighting are indicators that your cat feels that his or her territory has been trespassed. It’s not just the household, but you come with the territory as well. All those times your cat rubbed against you, he or she was marking you with various scent glands. So when you’re giving another cat attention, don’t be surprised if your kitty starts to exhibit these signs of jealousy.

If you acquiesce to your jealous cat, you wind up confirming that this behavior works.
Instead, find a healthy balance when giving your cats attention, and don’t play favorites.

Careful introductions

Adding another cat to your household requires careful steps to ensure that balance is maintained. A slow, calm introduction should begin by sharing scents. Let your cats sniff each other’s beds and toys before they meet. You can also purchase natural spray that can encourage stress reduction and even produce “feel good” hormones in cats.

Sharing is not caring

A good rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat in your household, and the same goes for their feeding and watering bowls. Cats don’t want to compete for resources, and if they aren’t given enough resource availability and security, tensions may rise into an all out war. Provide your cat with their own personal space, and that includes vertical territory.

What if it’s something else?

Perhaps your new addition to the family coincided with a new health issue for your cat. For example, you might mistake peeing outside of the box is a territorial behavior, but it could be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. It doesn’t hurt to seek veterinary attention just to be sure there aren’t any underlying health problems causing the new behaviour.

Are you going out of town, and want to be sure your cats get the equal attention they need? Give us a call to meet one of our pet sitters!

Andrea Gores is an actor, playwright, and pet sitter for Katie’s Kitty.

Photo by cäleidosc on Flickr

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How to prevent litter scatter

A few clumps here, a few clumps there. In the kitchen, on furniture, on the bed! When your cat tracks litter through the house, it can be icky and downright frustrating. Is your cat leaving a litter trail? Consider these suggestions for keeping the mess at bay.

Try rugs and litter mats

There are a number of products specially designed to catch litter. These include mats that you can place under or next to your cat’s litter box. When your cat leaves their box, the litter clings to the mat instead of being dragged all over the place. As an alternative to buying one of these mats, you can also try using materials you already have in your house. Rubber boot mats or bathroom rugs can be just as effective as a brand new pet product.

Change the type of litter box

The amount of litter your cat tracks around could depend on the type of litter box they are using. Consider trying a different box design, perhaps one specifically made to reduce mess. Some people have found that boxes with high walls or a top entrance are more effective at keeping litter contained.

Change the type of litter

Some types of litter are just more likely to scatter and leave a trail than others. Try switching out your old litter out for a different brand or one made of a different material. You might notice that heavier clay litters clump more and scatter less than looser lightweight ones of wheat or corn. Crystal litters are less likely to stick to longer fur, too. If you start to notice a lingering bad odor coming from the bits that do scatter out of the pan, it might be time to dump out and refresh the entire litter box.

Is your kitty a little messy? Our sitters pay extra attention to cleanliness, and even vacuum around the litter box. Send us an email to find out more.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Lottie on flickr

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Should kitty litter be tossed in the garbage chute?

4765853072_f06a2a7801_zMany New York buildings have a garbage chute. It could be accompanied by a sign advising residents not to deposit items that make perfect sense, such as lit cigarettes and open paint cans. Yet, you might wonder why your building advises against dropping something as seemingly innocuous as kitty litter down the chute.

How bad could cat litter be?

“Believe it or not, unbagged kitty litter is one of the worst things that can be thrown down a garbage chute,” writes Jeff Anderson of S.O.S. Drain and Sewer Service. This is because most cat litters are essentially granules of sand that clog and jam the mechanics of the chute and compactor. Not to mention, over time, debris from cat waste can build up layer upon layer of foul smelling bacteria and harmful microorganisms on the chute walls, which can even creep into your building’s air vents.

Is bagged cat litter also a problem?

It’s very unlikely that you’re lugging your full cat litter box all the way to the trash room to shake the unbagged contents down the chute. However, even pet parents who bag their litter unwittingly add to the problem. Not all bags are strong enough to withstand the fall from the chute to the compactor. Reused plastic shopping bags are especially likely to rip as they tumble down the shaft. Bags tied too loosely or with too much extra air inside can also pop in the compactor.

What’s the worst that could happen?

If you’ve ever opened the trash chute and were startled by a bag rolling down from the floor above you, it would be easy to imagine the horror of being the person opening the chute after a burst bag of cat litter rained down. Lisa Iannucci of The Cooperator states it best, “Just imagine being the next person to open the trash chute door after such shenanigans and getting a face full of bacteria-laden air.”

What should you do instead?

Some buildings advise that you leave your bagged pet waste on the floor of the refuse room next to the recycling bins. If your building allows for kitty litter to be tossed down the chute, be sure to double bag it, and use bags that are up to the task such as small biodegradable doodie bags. You can also cache your kitty litter in a receptacle with a sturdy liner such as a kitchen trash can or Litter Genie.

If you want to avoid frequent trips the the garbage chute, try a flushable cat litter like World’s Best, or a silica cat litter like Dr. Elsey’s Long Haired Litter.

Does your building have a special policy for pet waste disposal? Be sure to let your pet sitter know. Our sitters always do their best to follow all of your instructions to the letter. Book an appointment today!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Steve Haslam on flickr

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5 Quick fixes for a smelly litter box

4877576787_2ca5bb84e9_zHaving a feline companion fills your home with joy, but no one enjoys having a stinky litter box room. Don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to cut down on litter box odor.

Evaluate your kitty’s health

First, take your cat to the vet to check for parasites or other health problems. Once your kitty is given a clean bill of health, ask about probiotics that can help cut down litter box odor.

Change your kitty’s food

Foods that are high in carbs and plant materials are not easily digested by cats themselves, which leaves the work to smelly bacteria. Feed a higher quality wet food to avoid this problem.

Change your kitty’s litter

You may be surprised how much more odor fighting ability you’d get for just a few more dollars. Arm and Hammer’s Clump n’ Seal, World’s Best, and Precious Cat #1 Long Haired Cat Litter are all excellent choices, made from clay, corn, and silica respectively.

Remember, it’s a good habit to periodically discard all of the litter in the cat box, wash it, and refill it with fresh litter. Depending the type, how often you should change the litter will vary.

Try odor absorbers

Zeoilite rocks and moso bamboo charcoal are both powerful, natural odor absorbers that do not use artificial fragrances or chemicals. Simply place them in the room with the stinky litter box, and then put them in the sun once a month to recharge their odor absorbing abilities.

Light a candle

You can buy special soy and soy blend candles that are made with enzymes that evaporate and help to break down foul smelling compounds in the air, but even unscented candles break down odors in the air by burning the oxygen to which bad odors are attached. As a bonus, beeswax candles emit negative ions, neutralizing the positive charge that keeps bad odors and allergens afloat.

Are you worried about your litter box becoming unweildly while you’re away? Book a Katie’s Kitty pet sitter for your trip, and you will return home to a happy cat and fresh litter box.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Tom Thai on flickr

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How often should I change my cat litter?


“How often should I change my cat litter?” As pet sitters, that’s a great question that we hear all the time. The truth is, it depends on the type of litter and how many cats you have.

Check out these recommendations from the top cat litter manufacturers and customer reviews to help you determine how often you should be changing your litter.

Clay clumping litter

On their website, Dr. Elsey’s, the makers of Precious Cat clumping cat litters recommends “totally changing the litter out in the cat box every three to four weeks depending on use. Wash your cat boxes with hot water and a mild detergent like Ivory dish soap and then replace with about 3 inches of new litter.”

On the other hand, Arm & Hammer, the makers of the very popular Clump & Seal, says the process can be more subjective. “Some consumers change their litter box on a regular schedule (every few days, or weekly, or on trash day, etc.), others change it when it looks wet or when odor is noticeable.”

Flushable corn-based litter

World’s Best Cat Litter has a chart that suggests that a 7 lb bag will last about 30 days with only one cat using it. From personal experience, I start to notice a funny odor after about a week. So, if you’re completely changing out your litter 4 times a month and refilling it about 3 inches each time, the bag does indeed last for an entire month.

Wood pellet litter

The Feline Pine product description on Petsmart’s website states, “You’ll know it’s time to change the litter box when all the pellets dissolve, usually in about two weeks for a single cat.” After regularly sifting out the used portion, customer reviews have mentioned that they only completely change the pellets every 3 weeks for cleanliness, but there isn’t any noticeable odor.

Crystal cat litter

Crystal litters are usually made from silica gel, which absorbs the liquid waste. All you have to do is scoop out and flush down the solids. Fresh Step states, “You only need to replace the entire box of litter once every one or two months.”

However, the instructions on a bottle of Precious Cat Long Hair Cat litter states that you should change a box filled with 1 inch of litter about every 2 weeks. With any crystal cat litter, it’s important to rake the crystals regularly in order to give them a chance to absorb more liquid.

Our pet sitters pay extra attention the litter box. We ensure that the surrounding area is swept or vacuumed and that the litter always stays clean and fresh. If you’ll be out of town for a week or more, be sure to show your sitter where you keep the extra litter so that he or she can change it for you.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

“Teddy The Bag Cat, meowing” by gsloan on flickr

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Litter box training

All felines CCHS puts up for adoption are known to use the litter box. However, it is desirable to confine your new pet to the room with the litter box when she is first brought home, so she can learn its location.

  • Buy a litter box for each cat in the household, since some cats will not use a box used by another cat or may prevent other pets from using a particular box.
  • Place the litter box in a quiet location that is easily accessible to your pet. If disturbed or frightened while using the box, your pet may start eliminating elsewhere. Your pet may avoid using the box if it is too far away or takes a lot of effort to reach.
  • There are several types of litter available. Most cats prefer “clumping” litter over clay litter.
  • Reduce litter box odor by removing solid waste daily, and, if you use clay litter, changing all the litter at least weekly.

Common reasons cats may start eliminating outside the box include:

  • Urinary tract obstruction or other health problem. Call your veterinarian immediately! Your pet’s life could be in danger.
  • The litter box is too small or too dirty.
  • Your pet is spraying urine to mark territory or reduce anxiety.
  • Something about the litterbox, litter, or your household has changed and your pet objects.

To correct inappropriate elimination, confine your pet to a bathroom or large crate with the litterbox until you can correct the cause. Many things can trigger this problem. CCHS or your veterinarian can help you pinpoint the cause and suggest appropriate corrections.

Thanks to Humane Education Committee, Champaign County Humane Society, 1911 East Main, Urbana, IL 61801 USA

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