Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Litterbox Diaries

Do you remember "Pee-meister" the cat?  I gave him this name when I caught him peeing in the dry food bowl.  I set up a special litterbox in our master bedroom just for him so he could poop and pee without the other cats bothering him.  We kept the door closed because all the other cats wanted to use that new litterbox, and Pee-meister (a very vocal cat) would sit at the closed door and meow until we let him in.

The reason Pee-meister stopped using the other litterboxes was because he was being tormented by NervousCat.  The next chapter in this saga is that NervousCat started to torment GentleSimba.  That's when we found poop on our daughter's bed and poop and pee in an open cardboard box that had candles in it.  GentleSimba, too, needed some other place to go.

So I assembled a litterbox from a plastic storage box and shredded newspaper in it.  This turned out to be wildly popular, and I was changing newspaper sometimes twice each day!

The peeing and pooping in inappropriate places was solved.  But this solution was not good for the long term.  First of all, someone had to be home most of the day to let Pee-meister into the master bedroom.  Second, shredding fresh newspaper and replacing the old took a lot of time.  Third, the scoopable clay litter was terribly dusty, so everything in the master bedroom quickly became covered with dust.  But worst of all was that the cats sometimes would fail to squat before peeing; they would shoot pee on the hardwood floors, which are now horribly stained.

So we changed things around yet again.

First, we replaced the run-of-the-mill rectangular box in the master bedroom with a Booda Clean Step Litter Box, which we figured would contain the dust and prevent errant streams of pee from hitting the floor.  And we eliminated the dusty scoopable clay litter.  We filled it instead with World's Best Cat Litter, a fairly low-dust-producing scoopable litter.  And lastly we kept the bedroom door open so that Pee-meister didn't have to meow his way in.  But the box was a bit too small for GentleSimba.  He wouldn't bother to walk all the way inside, so his pee ran down the ramp and spilled onto the floor.  So we put a sturdy piece of plastic topped with newspaper under the ramp.  If you can't contain the pee, at least confine it to one spot that can be well-protected.

Then we made a new large litterbox from a 90-gallon storage container and set this up in the office.  I cut a U-shaped opening on one of the narrow sides for easy entry.  We filled it with Naturally Fresh scoopable litter, which is made from walnut shells.  This is another low-dust-producing litter.  Dust is especially bad in the office -- it will get into the printer and computer and cause early failure.  As I expected, streams of pee occasionally came out through the U-shaped hole.  But I was prepared this time with sturdy plastic topped with newspaper.

I decided we should use a low-dust litter in the laundry room, too.  This area in the basement houses our washing machine and clothes dryer, plus the boiler and well pump.  We hang clothes there to dry, too.  All the dust from the clay litter has been getting into the armatures and bearings of all the motors, and getting on the clothes.  I chose the World's Best Cat Litter for this only because it's available not just in the pet store but also in all the supermarkets we shop at.

There is one cat that continues to use the clay litter exclusively, so I wonder if we'll be able to eliminate it completely.


Zazzy said...

You have had quite the adventure with your litter boxes. I hope that the cat using the clay litter is the one that was bothering the other cats! Fortunately, my cats don't mind sharing a box. I hope to find a better location for the box once I move and I'd like to switch to a non-clay litter. I've been nervous about trying one since my old cat rejected it - she was fine with it during the transition but once the box was 100% the new litter she refused. I haven't had very good luck with covered boxes in the past but that Booda thing looks interesting. I've been considering this giant litter box (which is way bigger than it looks in the picture) in the hopes that they won't kick litter out as much.

Litter boxes are way more complicated than you'd think they should be.

By the way, I had a cat who didn't like sharing her box with herself. She used to wait for me to come home from work and race back and forth to her box until I scooped it so she could use it. She did not like anything in her box. Zoe and Charlie are much less picky.

Square Peg Guy said...

All our cats are rescues, so no doubt they've developed an ability to eliminate in unique places even before we got them.

The one that still prefers the clay litter is our good little Princess, not that unpleasant NervousCat, who sometimes marks each box by leaving unburied pee on top.

I'm not totally happy with the Booda. It's over-priced compared to my home-made box, and the interior is bowl-shaped, so a broad scoop doesn't get at the urine balls that have adhered to the sides. I would've returned it except for the hassle of removing the litter, verifying the return policy of a used box, and finding the receipt.

I hope your cats settle in well when you finally move!

Zazzy said...

Zoe and Charlie are both rescues also. Charlie, however, lived at our local no-kill shelter for about a year so he perhaps learned how to share. Zoe had clearly lived in a house at some point but was on the street when found by my friend. She didn't know how to play when she came to live here so I don't think she had a very good life.

Good to know about the Booda. I made an outdoor cat shelter out of one of those plastic storage bins for a stray that hung around here. I never thought of it for housing a litter tray. It's a good idea.

By the way, I read that the cat that leaves unburied poop is the dominant cat. In our house, that's Zoe. Her poop is a gift to the world while Charlie buries his (and sometimes her's) with great determination. Zoe scratches on the wall beside the box to indicate, perhaps, that the wall should bury her poop for her.

Square Peg Guy said...

Yes, well, if you pretend to be a cat for a moment, what better way is there to say "I'm the Boss" than to leave your poop in a prominent place the way a bobcat or mountain lion would? And I'm sure Zoe's poop really is super extra special.

Catster magazine (formerly Cat Fancy) has quoted experts who say that off-the-shelf litter boxes are too small for most adult cats, and they recommend the large storage bin idea. They recommend to cut a U-shaped hole if your cat has trouble moving. My cats seem to enter through the hole but then jump out over a tall side.

Thanks for reading and commenting!