Besides being a cat behaviourist I work as a cat sitter as well.
People ask me whether I just feed and clean litter trays all day. Well, yes and no. I mean I do feed cats and clean litter trays, but there’s much more to it.
In the series of posts I’ll share some anecdotes from my life as a cat sitter. I promise these stories are all true, though the cat’s names have sometimes been changed to protect their identity 😉
I see a lot of litter trays and types of litter in my work as a cat behaviourist and as a cat sitter. Some cats are extremely fussy and don’t use a tray twice: it has to be clean or else they won’t use it. In multi-cat households you always need multiple trays, although I did once visit 5 cats that all used the same tray…
What type of litter you use depends on both you and the cat. No matter how much you like a certain type of litter (for example one they are not as likely to traipse around the house) if your cat does not like it they will not use it. Most cats prefer a sandlike litter as they can dig around properly. You can get various types of litter trays or put down a mat in front of the tray, but in all honesty I have yet to find the perfect solution to prevent cats spreading litter through the house.
You can also use a wood pellet type of litter. These are not as likely to stick to your cat’s feet, though not all cats like these. This is especially the case for older cats.
Two other popular types of litter are silica crystals and non-clumping granules. These are known to absorb urine and last longer so you don’t have to scoop litter trays as often (just scoop poo). While this is true, please remember that cat’s have a far more sensitive sense of smell than we do. You can’t wait until you smell the urine to clean it as your cat will be able to smell it long before you do. If your cat is a bit fussy then they may well decide to do their business elsewhere…. I know some unlucky owners who have found pee inside shoes and poo just beind the front door.
Some cats pee or poo on their owner’s bed when they are left home alone. Although it sounds disgusting, some cats feel happier when they mix their scent with yours. That it why they may pee (or poo) on your bed or laundry when you are away.
If your cat is like this, then let your cat sitter know. It may be best to restrict access to the bedroom while you are away. Also consider getting a herbal or pheromone diffuser to help your cat feel calmer while you are away.
If your cats have strange toileting habits then always let your cat sitter know. As far as strange habits go, peeing or pooping in the bath, shower or on a tiled floor are not too bad as these can easily be cleaned. Sofas or beds are a different story… If your cat refuses to use a litter tray then get in touch. Together we can figure out why your cat is doing its business elsewhere and how to tackle it.
Most cats prefer some privacy when they go to the toilet, though some, like my own, are quite happy to have an audience….