To say that cats are creatures of habit may be a bit of an understatement. In fact, they are deeply attached to their people and environments, and only truly feel at ease when their expectations are met. This is not to say that they are hard to please, but cats count on things being a certain way. And when they’re not, all bets are off.
This is particularly true when it comes to their litter box. And why shouldn’t it be? Transitioning a litter box (from one place to another, changing quantities or style, etc) may seem like a daunting task to an owner that knows better, but it can be achieved without too much flack.
Squeaky Clean Kitty
Cats are, by nature, very clean animals. To say that we’re impressed by their skills wouldn’t be enough. They self-groom, use their very own bathroom without much, if any training, and generally keep their areas nice and tidy. The takeaway here is that cats are fastidious and precise.
Cats do not like abrupt change. Even small changes to their environment can be incredibly off-putting or confusing. It’s no wonder that many cat owners fear the backlash from adjusting their cat’s litter box situation or changing it altogether.
Aside from their crate, your bed, or the high bookshelf, the litter box is a cat’s favorite spot. They feel safe and comfortable there in order to conduct their business, and experience relief and possibly even something like joy.
Transitioning a litter box can jeopardize those good feelings, and may trigger real fear, distrust, or discomfort. The outcome? They may shun the box altogether, spaying or defecating around the house instead.
Slow & Steady
Transitioning a litter box may be inevitable because of:
Recent additions to your feline family
Broken, unsafe, or inadequate box dimensions
Behaviors, such as digging, make a big mess in a box without a hood or high walls
Recent relocation or remodel
Desire to conceal the box in a piece of furniture or inside another room
There are also many reasons why owners decide to change their cat’s litter. Whether price motivated or triggered by allergies, scent, or dust tracking, making changes are sometimes necessary.
The key to your cat’s acceptance and success is always going to be patience. You have to present the idea slowly and carefully, use encouragement daily, and never forget rewards and praise.
Transitioning a Litter Box
We hope that the goal of transitioning a litter box is attainable via these tips for success:
Slowly introduce your cat to their litter box
Install the new box adjacent or close to their old box
Keep the old box around until your cat starts to use the new litter box
Place toys or treats near the new box, encourage your cat to enter the box after a meal
Reward your cat when they use the new box
Praise, ever punish, your cat for trying
Don’t give up; allow the process to take as much time as necessary
Additionally, if you’re simply switching litter brands or types, start by mixing the old with the new. Over time you can decrease the amount of old litter that’s mixed in until it’s 100% the new product. You’d never want to shock your cat into a totally different approach than the one they’re used to.