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Overcoming 7 Obstacles to Cat Ownership

Cat Litter Box Issues

If the thought of litter box smells is keeping you from getting a cat, you’re not alone. With daily care, however, litter box odor is easy to control. And keeping a clean litter box will also help ensure that your cat will use it. To help minimize odors and maximize the chance of your cat using a litter box consistently, try these strategies:

  • Buy scoopable (clumping) litter, or small-grained clay litter, as research shows that cats seem to prefer fine-grained litter. As with any litter, you’ll need to clean the litter box daily, and dump the entire box and start fresh about once a month.
  • If bringing home a new kitty means you’ll have more than one cat in the house, be sure you’ve got enough litter boxes -- ideally, one for each plus one more. For example, if you have three cats, you should have four litter boxes. If a cat can’t use the litter box due to cat traffic jams, or if the box is consistently dirty, he may begin to go outside the box.
  • Don’t overfill a litter box to avoid cleaning it as often. Clean litter up to twice a day if there are multiple cats using a box. Aim for about an inch or two of litter per box.
  • Some cats prefer a cover on the litter box, but most don’t. Covered boxes tend to trap and magnify odors, so they need cleaning more often. Large cats may also have trouble maneuvering in them. The answer? Try both kinds of boxes, covered and uncovered, before settling on one.
  • A cat that consistently eliminates outside a litter box may have a medical problem. Always talk to your veterinarian before presuming the issue is unsolvable. It could be something that’s easy and inexpensive to address.


A Housemate Doesn’t Want Cats

This is too big an issue to boil down to a quick solution. But here are two strategies to try when you want a cat but the person you share your home with doesn’t:

  • Talk it out.  Learn why your spouse or roommate doesn’t want a cat. Maybe she prefers dogs. Or maybe she would like a pet one day, but now isn’t the right time. Talk about the pluses of cat ownership: love, purpose, fulfillment -- and even better, health. Studies show that having a pet can lower a person’s blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and even diminish depression.
  • Offer solutions. If your roommate or spouse is resisting cat ownership for issues you can tackle, such as shedding or odor, talk about how they can be addressed. Or the problem could be numbers: You’d like multiple cats, but she can only cope with one cat. See if you can compromise. Perhaps she’s just not sure whether she wants a pet. In that case, fostering a cat could be a way to test the waters.

The key is to begin the conversation. In the end, if your spouse or roommate is still against getting a cat, you can soothe some of your cat craving by volunteering at a shelter or humane society.

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