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Last week, we featured high-sided litter boxes to help you contain the mess inside the box rather than all around the box. Even though all of these boxes have lower entrance areas, they may still be too high for senior cats, especially cats with arthritis.
Arthritis is a common condition that affects as many as 3 in 10 cats. It is often not diagnosed in cats because it is difficult to recognize even for the most dedicated cat guardian. The signs can be subtle, and since cats are such masters at masking pain, it often remains untreated. Only 7% of cats with arthritis receive treatment.
Senior cats and litter box behavior
Litter box avoidance may be a symptom of arthritis (although there are many other reasons for eliminating outside the box.) Getting in and out of the box may be painful for a cat with aching joints. Your senior cat may need a lower box, and you may also want to add additional boxes, especially in a large or multi-level home. If getting to the litter box requires climbing stairs, senior cats may avoid using the litter box.
Litter box alternatives for senior cats
You’d think that pet product manufacturers would have realized that there’s a market for creating a litter box that makes entry easy for senior and arthritic cats, but to date, I have not found one designed specifically for older, arthritic cats. My theory is that it’s because, sadly, litter boxes are usually designed with human sensibilities in mind with not enough thought given to what cats want and need in a litter box. A litter box with lower sides will most likely be messier. As a result, cat guardians often have to get creative.
The following products can be good options in lieu of a “real” litter box:
Dog Litter Pans
Dog litter pans like the one shown above can work well for senior cats. The super low entrance will make entering and exiting easy for senior cats. They won’t contain litter very well, but you can get around that by placing the box on an easily washed litter mat or rug, or by lining the area around the litter box with pee pads. You can find these at pretty much any pet store. Amazon offers a wide selection of puppy litter pans, many with free shipping for Prime members.
Plant Growing Trays
Plant growing trays like the ones shown above are usually generously sized, and low enough for even the most arthritic cat to get in and out of the box. Make sure you purchase trays without drain holes. You can find these at your local gardening store. Amazon offers a large variety of sizes and shapes, many with free shipping for Prime members.
Under Bed Storage Boxes
Under bed storage boxes can be a good solution. Use a utility knife to cut an opening on either the long or short end. This gives you the flexibility to cut the opening as low and wide as your cat needs. The storage box shown above is available from Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.
Litter Box Ramp
The Kitty Box Ramp offers another alternative to getting a litter box with a lower entry. The incline of this cardboard ramp can be adjusted to three different levels. Not all cats may take to this, but it may be a way for you to be able to continue to use a higher sided littler box. The Kitty Box Ramp is available from Amazon.
Litter containment for low litter boxes
None of these boxes will do a very good job of containing litter, or any spillover accidents, so you’re going to want to place them on an easily washable rug (rubber backed bathroom rugs are a great option) or on pee pads.
Have you found a litter box solution for your senior cats? Share it with us in a comment.
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