Adding cats and litterboxes

Adding cats and litterboxes

You ask – we answer:

Q: We have an older dog and want to get two cats. We’d love to have a kitten, but also want to give a home to an older cat. What do you think of the idea of getting an older (even perhaps elderly) cat and a kitten? Does that sound like a courting disaster?

A: Whenever one is looking to add furry members to their household, one of the most important factors is compatibility with the humans, each other and the existing pets. If we think about the activity level of an adult cat, or even senior cat compared to that of a kitten we realize that we are in two completely different worlds. A pair of litter mate kittens would be an ideal choice, a pair of senior cats would be an ideal choice, even the pairing of a young adult (1-3yrs) with a kitten (in the 3-8 months range so it can hold its ground) would be a practical choice.

However, pairing a feline toddler with a feline 80-year- old and expecting them to be friends is a recipe for disaster. The cats have nothing in common and that kitten is going to annoy the older cat with its need for play and entertainment. Appropriate corrections on behalf of the older cat can quickly escalate to aggression, and then we have a sad little kitten who desperately needs a friend. These kittens can quickly become destructive or aggressive with their humans (hand biters and feet attackers) because they have no one with whom they can appropriately play with and practice their hunting instincts. They end up growing up as poorly socialized cats because the older cat wants nothing to do with them.

When adopting, try to look for pairs that are already bonded. You will have much greater success introducing them to the home and with them getting along with each other.

One last option would be to adopt one senior cat and a pair of kittens. This would allow the senior cat to interact when he chooses to and he can teach them good kitty manners. But when he doesn’t want to be involved, the kittens have each other for play.

Q: Hi, I was wondering how I can get my three-year-old tortoiseshell cat to use her own litter box versus the other cat’s litter box.

A: The only one in the house that thinks one litterbox is for one cat and the second box is for the other cat is the human! There is no such thing as Fluffy’s box vs. Sam’s box. To your cats, the litterbox is a place to communicate, mark, and eliminate. It is much more than a toilet for them. Most cats like to urinate in one box and defecate in another, so it is ideal to have multiple litterboxes in multiple locations around your home.

It is always preferred to have 1 more litterbox than you have cats, so you really should have 3 boxes in 3 different spots. This is so they can cross mark, and so that not all boxes can be “guarded” at any given time. It is a very human concept that the litterboxes should have exclusive use by only one cat. Just be happy that they are using the boxes consistently and NEVER scold them for using any litterbox.

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