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Feline Facts

Cat Math | Taming | Litter Problems






Cat Math

According to the

National Humane Education

Society one unspayed female cat

and her mate and all their

off-spring, producing 2 litters

per year with only 2.8 surviving

kitten per litter can total:


1 YEAR= 12

2 YEARS = 67

3 YEARS = 367

4 YEARS = 2,107

5 YEARS = 11,801

6 YEARS = 66,088

7 YEARS = 370,092

8 YEARS = 2,072,514

9 YEARS = 11,606,077


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Preventing Litterbox Problems

According to the Cornell Book of Cats (and I'm sure that most vets will agree), inappropriate urination is the most common behavior problem reported by cat owners. My own vet has said that he sees an average of five to six new cases of urinary problems in his office each week. The following guidelines for the prevention of litterbox problems have been provided the Wisconsin Cat Club (with minor changes reflective of this author's viewpoints and preferences).
1.  Have your cat spayed or neutered by six months of age. Sexually mature, intact cats frequently use urine and fecal marking to indicate their territory. Neutering will correct 90% of elimination problems. (While females spray less often, it is known to occur; spay surgery is reported to reduce or eliminate this behavior in 95% of cases.)
2.  The rule of thumb for the number of litter boxes is one per cat in the household, plus one. Extra litterboxes are necessary because some cats like to defecate in one and urinate in another. Others will not use a box that has already been soiled or used by another cat.
3.  Clean the litterboxes DAILY. The single most common reason for a cat's refusal to use a litterbox is because the box is dirty. Non-clumping litter should be scooped daily and the litterbox emptied and washed every other day. Clumping litter should also be scooped daily and the litterboxes washed when soiled.
4.  Choose a litter that appeals to the cat. Most cats prefer the texture of the sand-like scooping litters. Be sure to choose a brand that clumps into a firm ball, making scooping easier and cleaner.
5.  Use caution with scented litter. Most cats have an aversion to perfumed scents. When you wash the litterbox, use a mild dishwashing liquid. Do not use harsh chemicals that will leave an odor.
6.  Do not use litterbox liners - they can be irritating to some cats. Also covered, or hooded litterboxes may be offensive to some cats. (You may need to experiment to determine your cat's preference.) Be sure the litterbox is not too small for your cat.
7.  Place litterboxes in a quiet, private place that is easily accessible to the cat and where it will not be disturbed by children or ambushed by other pets. Noisy areas near washing machines, furnaces, or under stairs may frighten the cat away from the box. A house with two or more levels should have a litterbox on each floor. NEVER place litterboxes near food and water dishes.
8.  While kittens have an innate predisposition of using loose material for litter, they may also choose other locations. You should limit a kitten's territory until she learns that the litterbox is the only acceptable place for elimination. Praise and rewards will speed up the learning process.  Like small children, kittens should not be expected to travel very far to find the toilet area.
9.  When introducing a new cat into the home, confine him to one room with his litterbox, bed, food and water until he has used the litterbox several times and shows an interest in exploring the rest of the house.
10. Help your cat feel comfortable in his own home and territory. Play games with him, give him a massage, talk to him frequently. Give him positive and affectionate attention. A confident, secure, contented and relaxed cat does not need to relieve anxiety and stress by such extreme methods as urine or fecal marking.


Causes and Treatments
of Litterbox Problems

Medical Causes
FUS (Feline Urological Syndrome) describes a group of conditions including cystitis, urethritis and urethral blockage which account for many of the cases of house soiling among cats. Signs of FUS can include inappropriate urination as well as passing bloody urine.

After being treated for FUS, some cats may develop a litterbox aversion, having developed an association between pain and using the litterbox.  Cats who suddenly begin spraying or urinating outside of the box should see a vet to rule out medical causes for the behavior.
Behavioral Causes
When a cat sprays urine, the tail is upright and usually twitches intensely as urine is passed. This behavior is usually associated with territoriality or marking. If you find urine on vertical surfaces, your cat is most likely spraying.
Some cats may urinate on horizontal surfaces such as carpets, furniture or other such items. This behavior may also be caused by territoriality, but might also be a symptom of anxiety.
Detective Work
If your cat has recently begun having litterbox problems and medical causes have been ruled out, try to think of any possible causes for the behavior. You must think like a cat. Remember your cat is not trying to spite you, but he or she is merely trying to communicate. Unfortunately, this form of communication is not suitable inside the modern home!
Some Common Causes 
of Litterbox Problems
Does your kitty have a hard time getting around or does he/she seem to be arthritic? Some older cats find it difficult to climb into the litterbox. Consider using a box with low sides to help minimize the effort required to enter the box.
Are there any neighborhood cats that may be eliciting a territorial response? If so, attempt to limit roaming cats' access to your yard. If this is not possible, keep drapes closed when other cats are around.
Have you recently moved? Are there smells in your home from a former resident cat? Such odors can cause Fluffy to mark his territory.
Have you added any new cats to the house that may be causing stress or making your kitty feel threatened?
Do you have a multi-cat household? Studies have shown that the frequency of litterbox problems increases proportionately with the number of cats in the household. Homes with ten or more cats often have at least one cat urinating inappropriately.
Are there possibly multiple cats in your household that are marking? Often when one cat begins to urinate or spray outside of the box, others will also begin to have litterbox problems.
Have you recently changed cat litter or moved the litterboxes? If so, try putting the boxes back in their original places.
Have you changed schedules or routines, rearranged furniture, etc? Environmental stress may also cause vulnerable kitties to develop litterbox problems. Things that you or I think are insignificant can be interpreted as a major crisis by your furry feline.
Other Ways to Discourage Soiling Outside the Box
If Fluffy continues to mark in the same spot, consider feeding him in that area. Cats usually avoid defecating or urinating in areas where they eat. While food dishes might not look attractive on the sofa, neither do urine stains.
Make it a play area. Place Fluffy's favorite toys in areas where he has previously soiled. Get an interactive toy such as the Feline Flyer or Whirly Bird and have play sessions. The exercise will also work to burn up excess energy and relieve stress.
Some times the only way to break the soiling cycle is to confine the kitty to a cheerful and comfortable room, preferably one in which you also spend time. Confinement acts to decrease the size of the cat's territory and to hopefully decrease his need to mark and patrol his turf. If you choose to confine your kitty, make sure he has plenty of space to stretch and a nice bright window to sun bathe and look at the birdies. Your goal is simply to make him less stressed, not to punish. If, after one or two weeks, there has been no litterbox lapses, slowly begin expanding kitty's space. Do not simply open the door and allow free reign of the house.  Instead, try to give him one room at a time, slowly increasing his space.


Common Cleaners and Comparisons

Clean, Clean, Clean
One of the most important aspects of caring for a kitty with litterbox problems is proper cleansing of soiled areas.  There are many products available on the retail market, and just as many household preparations that have been recommended over the years. No matter which product you decide to use, make sure it is ammonia free.  Ammonia is one of the components of urine, and by using ammonia-based cleaners you are inviting your cat back to that same spot. Perhaps the most recommended cleansers are those with antibacterial and enzymatic properties, which work to dissolve old urine crystals and devour urinary residue. My personal favorite is Simple Solution, although some people swear by Nature's Miracle or other retail products.
In the June 1, 1989 issue of the Journal of the AVMA (Vol 194, No. 11) appeared an article describing various products which have been recommended for use in cleaning cat urine. Eleven different products were compared in their ability to clean and eliminate odor. The first group (Cat-Off, Thornell Corp; F.O.N Spray, Summit Hill Laboratories; Outright Pet Odor Eliminator, The Bramton Co) was found to be the most successful in initial results as well as long-term elimination of odor.
Three other products which were stated to have acceptable cleansing properties are Massengill douche powder (who'd have guessed?), Scope mouth wash (would never have thought to try that one!), and Woolite spray foam rug cleaner.   According to the study, this group of products emerged as having good properties for elimination of urine odors. These products tend to replace urine odor with the smell of the product itself.
Other cleansers which are sometimes used for urine clean-up include Basic H, Ivory Liquid detergent, and Vinegar. The study found that while these products successfully eliminated the odor at the onset, within one week the odor had returned. Also mentioned in this study were club soda and Marmaduke spray deodorizer, which were not found to be successful in permanently eliminating urine odors.













Taming Feral Kittens

The process of taming feral kittens can take from 2-6 weeks depending on their age and state of wildness. First and foremost, any person attempting this process should be totally committed and patient. A feral kitten may hiss and "spit" at humans as they are extremely scared.

Begin with a cage in a very small room. For the first 2 days do not attempt handling. They must learn to feel safe. Visit them frequently and talk to them, but resist touching.

Always move slowly. After 2 days, place a towel over it, and pick it up in the towel. If the kitten stays calm, pet it gently on the head from behind. Never approach from the front. The hand frightens the kitten which will bite when approached from the front. If the kitten remains calm, grip securely by the nape of the neck, put the towel on your lap and set it on the towel. Stroke the kitten's body while speaking soft, reassuring tones, then release. Make this first physical contact brief. Within a week the kitten should have made Considerable progress. They should have access to the room and can be placed in the cage only if necessary. When the kittens no longer respond by biting, encourage friends to handle them as often as possible. It is very important that they socialize with other humans. Feral cats tend to bond with one human so they best adjust to a new home if they socialize with other humans. The kitten will do best if there are no small children in the home. All you have done can easily be shattered by normal kid activity and noise. This is vital to remember when placing the kitten for adoption. The most suitable home is one that is the calmest environment for the kitten to feel secure. The taming process is certainly worthwhile.

Many will continue to be a bit elusive and others will demand human contact constantly. Persons who have feral companion animals after taming have reaped many pleasures from their company.

Source: Colorado Cat Care


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