Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our March/April. 2017 issue. Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
Let’s have some frank talk about potty time. While some cats are perfectly pristine with their litter box usage, others are sloppier in their habits. Take this quiz, and find out if your kitty has it covered or prefers to think outside the box.
1. What’s that sound coming from your cat’s litter box?
a. Dainty digging
b. A commercial excavator? It has to be.
c. No sounds, but what the heck is that smell?
d. Showers of cat litter hitting the floor around the box
2. What movie best describes your cat’s litter box habits?
a. Sense and Sensibility
c. Clear and Present Danger
d. Dirty Harry
3. You’re filling the box with fresh litter. How does your cat react?
a. Waits patiently for you to finish, then promptly hops in and carefully does his business
b. Waits impatiently for you to finish, then jumps in and starts digging to China
c. Waits patiently, cleaning his perfect paws that never become especially dirty because he doesn’t ever cover his litter box deposits
d. Jumps in the box while you’re pouring the litter and starts in with professional kickboxing moves
4. You walk by the litter box. What do you notice?
a. Perfectly covered clumps and no litter around the box
b. Peaks and valleys of litter
c. The sight and stink of an uncovered pile of poop
d. Litter sticks to your bare feet
5. Based on your cat’s litter box behavior, what would his DJ name be?
a. DJ Cover Lover
b. DJ Gettin’ Diggy Wit It
c. DJ Doo-N-Dash
d. DJ Outta the Box
6. What’s that smell?
a. What smell? I smell nothing.
b. Dust clouds of litter moving across the room
c. Fresh kitty poo! Of course it’s uncovered. Of course you have company.
d. Cat pee dripping down the wall because kitty couldn’t quite keep his bottom inside the box
7. What are you thinking as you scoop the litter box?
a. Easy peasy! My cat must have had lessons from Miss Manners.
b. Can this scooper reach all the way down there? Man, these clumps are really buried!
c. Is there such a thing as “Learn to Cover Your Poop 101”? If so, where do I sign my cat up? Can he start immediately?
d. Box? I can’t find the box. It must be buried somewhere under this litter that’s all over the place.
Mostly A’s: Got It Covered
Well, aren’t you the lucky one? Your kitty typically covers his pee and poop and even keeps the litter inside the box. Smell is minimal, and scooping is a breeze. Hey, can your cat teach a class? Maybe the “Learn to Cover Your Poop 101”?
In all seriousness, there are many reasons why a cat does or doesn’t properly cover his deposits. One reason is because the box and litter are or aren’t a good fit for the cat. Some cats respond better to certain types of boxes and litter way better than others. You must have found great matches for your fastidious feline!
Mostly B’s: Totally Diggin’ It
Cats instinctively enjoy digging, and most of the time all that digging is completely normal. If it becomes excessive, you may want to consider a few things:
Is there enough litter in the box?
Is the box being cleaned regularly?
Is it in a calm and comfortable location? Is the box big enough?
Mostly C’s: Uncovering the Stink
No one likes the smell of uncovered kitty “business” in the litter box. If your cat isn’t regularly covering, it could be that he wasn’t taught properly. He could also have an aversion to the litter, so trying a new brand could help. Additionally, some cats prefer large, open boxes to covered ones. Try various options to find what works.
If your cat previously covered his waste and now isn’t, visit the vet’s office to rule out any medical conditions.
Mostly D’s: Careless Kitty
Some cats are just plain messy when it comes to using the litter box. One way to prevent flying litter and over-the-edge urine streams is to give your kitty a large litter box. Some cats do well with sizable plastic totes with a door cut into the side.
If your cat is defecating or urinating outside the box, it’s time to check in with the vet to make sure his physical and behavioral health is in check.