Cat walking out of her litter box.

Special Considerations for Cats

Your cat’s litterbox should also be placed in an area in the house where interruptions are not likely to occur. For very small kittens, an aluminum pan or shallow tray may be used; for larger kittens and adult cats, your standard plastic varieties available from a pet shop work just fine.

Avoid using boxes or other cardboard devices for a litterbox. Not only do they have a tendency to leak, but their porous nature is most unsanitary to your cat. Covered litterboxes have the advantage of keeping the litter from being strewn across the floor—assuming, of course, that your cat feels comfortable enough to enter such an enclosure!

Try to match the type of litter used in your cat’s previous home, but be sure that it is dust-free. Also, avoid products containing chlorophyll to mask odors, as this substance can irritate your cat’s nose and prevent it from using the box.

Fill the box with about 11/2 inches of litter. For sanitation purposes as well as aesthetics within the house, make a habit of scooping out solids from your cat’s litterbox on a daily basis. (Note: Pregnant women should pass this duty on to someone else, in order to reduce their risk of exposure to toxoplasmosis.)

Both coarse-grained and fine-grained (“clumping”) litters can be spot-cleaned daily without having to dump out the entire box. However, regardless of litter type used, litterboxes should be emptied completely and cleaned with soap and water at least once a week to maintain sanitary conditions and to control odor.

Unless you plan to have your cat declawed at a young age, you will also need to invest in a good scratching post to spare your furniture and fixtures from the ravages of your cat’s claws. Clawing comes naturally to cats, which use such behavior to keep their nails in top condition and to mark their territory.

The scratching post should be made of sturdy material and be heavy enough or braced so that it doesn’t fall over when the cat attempts to scratch. A sturdy piece of soft wood is ideal for this purpose.

Other commercial varieties can be obtained from a local pet store. Avoid those posts lined with thick, compliant carpet, as this might not satisfy your cat’s needs, causing it to look elsewhere for a surface that will.