By one estimate, 3.4 million cats enter U.S. shelters each year for a variety of different reasons. But often these fabulous felines are simply strays, or pets that have been surrendered because of medical or behavioral issues. Hill's® Food, Shelter & Love® Program believes that proper nutrition plays a huge part in helping shelter cats get adopted to loving forever homes—the healthier and happier a cat is, the more likely she is to be adopted. And Hill's Food, Shelter & Love Program has donated over $280 million worth of Science Diet brand foods to nearly 1000 animal shelters across the country since 2002. This translates to helping over 8 million pets find their forever home!
Sometimes, particularly with felines, it can be hard to tell the difference between a medical problem and a behavioral problem because they often overlap. Take litter box "issues" for example. Parental Unit thinks our cat Bella, found on the street just about 11 years ago, is the perfect, sweet kitty (I beg to differ, but I'll save that story for another post!). But even the queen of our house at one time had a bit of a problem with her litter box manners, and occasionally still does.
What? You must be be confusing me with another kitty! I've never had any "issues", let alone with my litter box!
Parental Unit tells another tale: Ms. Bella occassionally urinates just outside the litter box on the newspapers I keep under the box. Her tests show that she's perfectly healthy, so there are no urinary tract infections or other medical conditions that might cause her to "miss" her box. After tracking these mistakes, they seem to happen when I don't change her litter frequently enough. Although I clean her litter every day, I don't always scrub her box and completely change the litter as often as I should. Lesson learned: Most cats prefer their litter box scrupulously clean and sometimes will refuse to use it if it's not pristine.
Now that we have that settled, let's play!
We realize that not all litter box problems are this easy to resolve. If your cat suddenly starts using areas outside her litter box, the first step is to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Only your vet can rule out any medical conditions that may be causing these mishaps. There's also lots of expert advice on cats and litter box issues available for your reading pleasure. And making sure you can separate litter box fact from fiction is extremely important to help you and your cat resolve the problem.
There's also a variety of foods especially formulated to support the health of the urinary system in otherwise healthy cats, like Hill's Science Diet Adult Cat Urinary and Hairball Control formula. As always, it's important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best food for your cat.
We agree that proper nutrition combined with regular vet check-ups, a feline-friendly environment and minimal stressors will help your cat establish and maintain good litter box manners. We'd love to hear if your kitty has had any litter box problems and how you resolved them. Please let us know!