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What do you get when you combine glamorous fashion models with cute dogs rescued from un-glamorous puppy mills?

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Litter Box Blues

Nobody enjoys talking about animal poop (yeah, it’s awkward), but there’s no way of avoiding the subject: it always comes down to either taking your dog for a walk or cleaning up a stinking litter box. Most of the entries posted so far have been canine-related. Even though I’m sure doggie doo doos can be somewhat overwhelming, especially on a rainy day, we’re going to focus on our other frisky companions: CATS!

Sifting through clumps of litter is disgusting. Kneeling on the floor, mastering the use of the scooper, and keeping your pet from jumping in as you clean is dishonorable. The embarrassment of a visitor catching a sniff of the ammonia can reach mortifying levels. And lets not forget about the gag factor.

But you love your cat and you make amends, embracing all responsibilities, including the dirty ones.

There’s no way to avoid cleaning up the litter box, unless someone else does it for you (hooray!) or you get one of those expensive self-cleaning machines. Next time you walk by your feline companion sitting in his/her throne minding his/her business, fear not! There is a solution to your nightmarish problem.

The first thing you should keep in mind is: How often do YOU flush your own toilet? If you were to stop doing so, wouldn’t you start feeling a bit dirty? Well, place yourself in your cat’s paws (har har!). Cats are finicky creatures, and very much like you, they cringe at the idea of relieving themselves in a dirty box (they also have a keener sense of smell). It’s bound to get nasty if you don’t keep up with your kitty chores, so don’t blame it on Fifi! Just suck it up and read the following tips:

Tip 1: Clean up on a daily basis, it’ll keep the grime from accumulating on the bottom of the box and reduce the gag factor significantly. All you need is a sturdy plastic or metal scooper, a plastic waste container (you know… a bag), and the will to have a clean area. Change the litter once a week. If you have numerous cats, you might need to do so more often.

Tip 2: Keep paper towels nearby. Our furry companions are usually turned off by ammonia based or citrus/flower scented cleaning products (some of them are even toxic!). The best way to go around the daunting task is by using water and dish detergent. Some folks keep a bottle of DILUTED bleach for a quick scrub. Whenever the lid or the sides of the box get soiled, spot away. It’ll help keep the smell at bay.

Tip 3: Get a flat litter mat (avoid the ones with raised bumps, they’re more difficult to clean). You won’t have to worry about stepping on God-knows-what.

Tip 4: Get a big litter box. Or a big storage box. Cats dig space and so do parents who dislike walking on dug-out litter. Just make sure that the grime doesn’t stick to the bottom; that would defeat the purpose of keeping it clean, right?

*Note: Hooded boxes might look big (and pleasing to the human eye), but they tend to be uncomfortable for those using it, making cats feel trapped and parents oblivious to what’s going inside (out of sight, out of mind). However, some are spacious enough and come with filters to absorb odors. You can always test a cheap one and see how it goes!

Tip 5: If you have more than one cat, get more than one litter box. If you only have one pet but live in a big house, get more than one litter box. Keep in mind, some cats like one box for urinating and another box for defecating.

*Note: Don’t put the box in the laundry room, near a radiator, or in the cold, cement basement. It gets noisy in there and you might end up traumatizing your pet. Would you like going to the bathroom in a freezing, dark room?

Tip 6: Cats are put off by scented litter. They also dislike air fresheners. If the smell is getting to you, powder a thin layer of baking soda on the bottom of the box. It’ll absorb odors without disgruntling anybody.

Tip 7: Cats aren’t thrilled about litter box liners, but if you want to try them out, experiment for a day or two and see how your pet reacts.

Tip 8: Just because you add more litter doesn’t mean the box is cleaner; the crap is still there. Two or three inches of the grainy stuff is enough for the cat to do its business. Adding clean litter is not going to make the clumps magically disappear.

Tip 9: Don’t change litter brands frequently- Fifi is a creature of habit. Some people like clay, other people are against it. There are other affordable products in the market such as scooping/clumping litter, crystal based/silica gel litter, and plant-derived/bio-degradable litter. It’s your decision- just stray from anything scented. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint- do some research: it’s not as expensive as you’d think!

*Note: If your cat starts going outside the box, you should call your vet. Sometimes, when your pet isn’t feeling well, he/she will show something’s wrong by changing potty behavior. If your vet says everything is fine and dandy, you might just have a disgruntled cat that dislikes something you’re doing or using. Did you buy another brand of litter? Is there a new companion competing for attention? Write down your observations and consult a pro.

*Note: PUNISHMENT is NEVER the answer, it’ll just make things worse. NEVER, NEVER rub your cat’s face on the litter box/feces/urine (yes, people have done this). Try to figure out what’s wrong and act accordingly. In the long run, you might need to seek professional advice.

If you’re still clueless about cleaning the litter box, watch this VIDEO (taken from catinfo.org).

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Bea's Beat

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Deborah Howard

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