Let’s face it, no body really owns cats, rather, they own their humans.
As Elizabeth Peters once said, rightly,”The way to get on with a cat is to treat it as an equal – or even better, as the superior it knows itself to be.” So to tell your feline overlord where to do it’s business is really out of the question.
What most people seem to think is the right way to go about it is to dump them in whatever makeshift litter-box they have procured them and harangue them by making coaxing noises at them or dragging their claws back and forth through the litter to get them to use it. All this is going to earn is look of utmost disgust and indignation, enough to make you repent all your life choices. The worst technique is when they try to punish the cat, as you would a little child, when it rejects its litter box and decides to do it’s business elsewhere in the house. Most cats do not understand the concept of punishment very well, so no matter how much you scold it, if it thinks your nice, soft (very expensive) carpet is it’s new favourite pee spot, then no amount of scolding is going to get it to change it’s mind.
Basically, you cannot tell your free-spirited cat what to do, you can merely make a suggestion and hope to God that it takes to the litter before it discovers the plushy sofa cushions, after which it is going to be nary impossible to get it to change it’s mind.
Okay, we may have come across as a little alarmist above, most cats take naturally to their litter boxes. All you need to do is to make sure you aid them along and make it as convenient for them as possible.
1) Firstly, pick a suitable box. It needs to be the ideal size for your cat, allowing room for increase in size if your cat is not fully grown, because once it gets used to it, it will be hard for it to adjust to a new one. It should be easily reachable and not too elevated, for if it’s too much trouble, kitty will find somewhere more accessible, like under you bed. And if you know what cat piss smells like, then you know you’ll never be using your bed again.Then you need to source litter for the box. Again, this choice needs to be well thought out, for cats are creatures of habit. There are many different kinds of litter commercially available, so keep a few things in mind while making the purchase. It should be a kind that serves your purpose well, absorbs liquids and odours properly and is easy to clean and replace. It needs to be comfortable for your cat also, and must not contain any ingredients that may pose health risks for the cat. Dusty varieties are a no-no, because they cause respiratory problems and will lead to the cat trailing dusty paw-prints all over the house.
Another consideration is the economics of cat litter. It needs to be changed regularly, the frequency also depends on the variety, so make sure it doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.
2)While your cat might not understand any concept of your privacy, barging in and clawing at doors to be let out, or let in, according to it’s own convenience at the most inopportune moments, it certainly needs space to be on it’s own, especially while using the litter box. So place the box in a spot which is not too crowded with objects or used by too many people of your household, and not too close to the feeding spot. Also, try and keep it in a fixed spot. Cats are clever creatures, but also easily confused. Or they might continue to use the old spot, litter box or not, having gotten used to the position of the box rather than the box itself.
Also, as mentioned above, the litter in the box needs to be cleaned regularly. If it stinks, the cat’s going to reject it, and why not? It’s like asking a person to use a dirty, ill maintained public loo every time they feel the urge, and everyone who’s used one of those knows what a daunting act that is. So make sure you change the litter often, and empty it out and wash it sometimes too. If the box stinks too much try using natural acids like lemon or vinegar to counteract the smell. Do not try use a perfumed litter as a solution, because although those are a variety available and sound like a god-send, cats hate it and it annoys them to no end.
3) Finally, the act of actually making the suggestion to your cat. Carry it to the box whenever you feel like it’ll need to use it, after naps, or early in the mornings, or depending on it’s schedule as you know it. Let it get used to the feel of the box and stay in it if it wants to, several cat owners and trainer also suggest scratching at the litter yourself with your hand to get it interested. This part requires a lot of patience, while some learn immediately, some might need days before they understand. Being notorious narcissists, cats respond very well to praise, so praise it every time it correctly uses the box.
If your cat isn’t the brightest feline around, and still doesn’t understand why the human keeps dumping her in the box every few hours, you might have to resort to leaving a few pieces of it’s faeces in the box to get it understand what the box is for.
These are only suggestions, use whatever techniques you feel work the best for your cat, depending upon the equation between you two. Hopefully you will get your cat to use it’s designated litter box and spare your furniture. Except when it decides to use the sofa as a scratching post, of course. Or shed all the cushions. Or leave you a present on the carpet in the form of a dead bird.
To leave you with another quote regarding cats, this one because we believe it hold so true;
” Dogs have masters, cats have staff.” – unknown