We want to make the litter tray a place the cat wants to go, rather than a place they avoid. Here are some things you can do to help ensure your litter trays are attractive and not off-putting to your cats.
Plenty of trays: Have one more litter tray than you have cats: if you have three cats, have four trays. Cats often want to go all at the same time, first thing in the morning. If all the trays are occupied, someone may end up going outside the tray.
Clean trays: Make sure all trays are cleaned every day. No one wants to use a dirty tray.
Consistent litter type: Some cats don't like change. If you're not sure what litter your cat likes, you can line up a row of trays with different types of litter and see which one the cat uses. If your cats have been consistently using a specific litter type, don't change it. Change in litter type , such as particle size, substance and smell, can render the tray unattractive and make a cat stop using the tray.
Tray nearby: If you have multiple levels in your home, have a tray on every floor or storey. If your house is large, make sure there are trays at each end of the house so that cats don't have to travel really far to use one.
Easy to access: Make sure at least some of the trays are easy to access. If a tray is behind a closed bathroom or bedroom door, the cat can't get to it easily. Upstairs, downstairs, over or under baby gate, and otherwise hard to access trays may deter a cat which is tired, sore or needs to go urgently. If you have an older cat or a cat recovering from injury, low-sided trays that are easy to step into or with ramps leading into higher-sided trays can make it easier to use the tray even with sore legs. Trays should be 1.5 times the length of the cat. You can use plastic storage bins or other items that are adequate in size and shape if commercial trays are too small.
No scary things nearby: If the tray is next to the laundry machines, running noisily, it may scare off a cat. High traffic areas, places near dogs or ones requiring the cat to go past an aggressive cat housemate may all keep the cat from feeling comfortable going to, and sitting in, the tray. Try to place the trays where they are peaceful to enter and use.
Privacy: Try using covered, top-entry or other tray styles, without removing the old style trays, to see if your cat is more comfortable using a tray that gives them more privacy.
Tray and litter preferences. If you aren't sure what your cat likes, offer a litter tray ‘buffet’ - a row of different trays, covered, open, automatic, clumping, clay or other litter types- so you can find out what your cat prefers to use. Sometimes finding the right combination does the trick.
If you have tried these things are still having trouble or would just like more advice please call The London Cat Clinic on 0203 740 1112 or book a behavioural consultation here. To get as much out of the consultation as possible please complete our Client Questionnaire here before your visit.