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September 2, 2014

Cat Byte: Say NO to Punishment

Punishment causes cats to be stressed, can escalate behaviors, weakens the bonds between cats and their people and cause other unwanted behaviors. Cats aren’t being bad when they do behaviors that aren’t appreciated. They are instinctually responding to something in their environment, a situation or a medical problem.

Being Green is Good… but

This blog entry is not for the faint of heart… if you are sensitive to issues pertaining to cat excrement, you might want to not read this.

I support the green movement whenever possible. I’m glad to see people are concerned about what they are throwing away and how it impacts the environment. Having said that, sometimes the implications of being green has some disturbing consequences. Recently I’ve noticed a trend that is causing many cats to avoid using their litter boxes.

Most people understand the importance of scooping litter boxes on a daily basis. Cats do not like soiled litter boxes because the smell can theoretically attract predators and scare away potential prey. This means boxes need to be scooped daily. When cleaning cat boxes, the excrement is typically scooped into plastic bags and then thrown away. Before people started living green, the bags were removed immediately after each scooping. Times they are a-changing…

Some people, in their efforts to preserve the environment and not drown it in plastic bags are collecting the excrement in containers, dumping only after the containers have filled up. Typically, the containers are placed either next to the cat boxes, for convenience, or in the same room as the boxes. Some of the containers are open waste baskets lined with plastic bags—others are semi-closed boxes or bags. The containers are dumped when they are full—sometimes once a week, others once a month. One client was dumping every three months. The cat boxes are immaculately clean, but the rooms smell terrible.

From the cat’s perspective, there is no difference between a dirty cat box and a cleaned cat box that has an open container of excrement sitting next to it or nearby. They both smell and they both have the same consequences—cats choosing to not use their litter boxes.

And yes, there is a solution that will make both cats and people happy. There are environmentally friendly bags available from pet stores, specifically manufactured for this purpose. They can be thrown away every day. Litter lockers can also work, but only if they have good seals on them that prevent odors from escaping. So people, please think through what it means to be green. How is it impacting your cat?

Adoption Tip: An Additional Cat

Keep your resident cat’s interests in mind when adding a cat to the household. Search for a cat who is similar in age and energy level to your cat. Also, your resident cat and potential adoptees should have histories of integrating successfully with other cats.

Cat Bits & Bytes

I have started a weekly feature on the home page of my Cat Coach site. It is called Cat Bits & Bytes. In theory, I will be posting a cat behavior tip every week on the home page. The older cat tips will be moved to a separate page, so they won’t be lost forever when they are replaced each week with a new tip.

So far I’ve posted one tip. With a little bit of luck I will post a new one every week…. I should be able to do this…  Blogging about my new Cat Bits & Bytes tips will hopefully give me the incentive. In theory, I shouldn’t have a problem writing a tip every week since like clockwork, I’ve written one column a week since 2007 for www.catchannel.com. The difference between my new Cat Bits & Bytes tips and my catchannel.com columns is one I’m paid for the other I’m not.

Check it out! The first tip is focusing on a popular subject: Litter Box Maintenance.

Litter Box Maintenance Tip: Avoid Inappropriate Elimination

In addition to scooping litter boxes ever day, dump the boxes often, wash and refill with fresh litter. How often depends on a couple of factors including the type of litter being used. Some litters absorb more than others. Wheat, corn and pine litters need to be dumped and refilled at least once a week—boxes with clay based litters every 2-4 weeks.