litter box

Pet Stain and Odor Removers That Get the Job Done

pet_friendly_cleaning

This post contains affiliate links*

When you share your home with cats, accidents happen. Whether it’s the occasional hairball, or litter box issues, most cat guardians are on the quest for the purr-fect stain and odor remover. I thought I’d make things easier for you by recommending a few products that I have tested and use myself, and they really get the job done.

When you choose cleaning products, please don’t use any products that contain chemicals. Many household cleaners contain contain hazardous ingredients such as organic solvents and petroleum based chemicals which can release volatile organic compounds into your indoor air. Some ingredients in household cleaners are known to cause cancer in animals and are suspected human carcinogens. Lysol, Pine-sol and other products containing phenols are deadly to cats as they can cause serious liver damage. Chlorox bleach, especially when concentrated, can cause chemical burns when it comes in contact with sensitive cat paws. Use pet-friendly products instead.Continue Reading

Giveaway: NVR Miss Litterbox

NVR_Miss_Litter_Box_giveaway

The search for the perfect litter box can be frustrating for many cat guardians, especially those of us, like yours truly, who live with a vertical pee-er (her name starts with the letter “R”). My search ended when I discovered the NVR Miss™ Litter Box shown above at a cat show two years ago.

For details on why I love this box so much, please read my full review of the NVR Miss™ Litterbox. I haven’t found anything that’s as good as this box (other than ugly homemade versions), and I went through a lot of different boxes when Ruby first came to live with us.

The box comes in taupe and white. The color shown above is the result of an experiment. The company wanted to make some funky colored boxes, so near the end of a production run, they mixed up orange and blue and played around a bit by switching back and forth to see what they would get. Continue Reading

Giveaway: Zero Odor Pet Multi Kit

Zero_Odor_odor_eliminator

I was first introduced to Zero Odor about a year ago at a feline behavior seminar hosted by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, BVMS, DACVB. Zero Odor was a sponsor of the seminar and each attendee received a bottle of the Zero Odor Litter Spray. Litter odor is not a problem at my house – I scoop practically the minute Allegra or Ruby leave their box – but I decided to put the product to the test for other “odor challenges,” such as trash cans and cooking odors, and it worked remarkably well for those.

I connected with Zero Odor at the 2012 BlogPaws conference earlier this year, where they sponsored the fabulous Catification Lounge, and received a sample of their Odor Eliminator, which works amazingly well.

All Zero Odor products are based on a patented formula that eliminates pet odors on a molecular levelContinue Reading

Giveaway: NVR Miss Litter Box – the perfect litter box

NVR Miss Litterbox

The search for the perfect litter box can be frustrating for many cat guardians, especially those of us, like yours truly, who live with a vertical pee-er (her name starts with the letter “R”). My search ended when I discovered the NVR Miss™ Litter Box shown above at a cat show last year.

For details on why I love this box so much, please read my full review of the NVR Miss™ Litter Box. I haven’t found anything that’s as good as this box (other than ugly homemade versions), and I went through a lot of different boxes when Ruby first came to live with us.

And now you can win one of these fabulous litter boxes for your cats!Continue Reading

Product review: DuraScoop litter scoops

Durascoop cat

Like most cat parents, cleaning the litter box is my least favorite thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I do it diligently. It’s important to keep the litter box clean. Many inappropriate eliminatinon problems are caused by a box that isn’t kept clean enough, at least, not from the cat’s point of view.

Since I work from home, I pretty much scoop as soon as Allegra or Ruby deposit something in one of our two boxes (especially if it’s in the one right outside my office). Yes, they have me well trained – and Allegra is the official box supervisor. She always inspects the box after I’ve scooped to make sure I’ve done a good job.Continue Reading

Review and giveaway: Cat’s Pride Fresh & Light prize pack

Cats-Pride-Fresh-Light

***This giveaway is closed***

I’m always careful about changing to a different brand of cat litter. Cats can be funny about where they do their business, and sometimes, changing to a litter they don’t like can lead to them avoiding using the litter box altogether – something none of us wants to deal with.

I use clumping clay litter. I would prefer to use something more environmentally friendly, and don’t think I haven’t tried. I offered the new litter in one box, and kept the old litter in the other. I also tried a gradual changeover, adding only a small amount of the new litter to the old litter (in one box only). None of these approaches worked. My cats always made it clear that clumping clay litter was their preference, thank you very much.

When the PR agency for Cat’s Pride’s new Fresh & Light litter contacted me, I was intrigued.Continue Reading

NVR Miss: the perfect litter box

NVR Miss litter box

When I adopted Ruby in April, I didn’t realize that I would be embarking on the search for the perfect litter box. Ruby is a vertical pee-er. I had never had one of those. My regular litter box wasn’t going to work.

She doesn’t spray. Spraying is usually done by male cats. When a cat sprays, he stands up, typically makes a treading motion with his back feet, quivers his tail and sprays urine onto a vertical surface such as a wall. Spraying is a marking behavior.Continue Reading

Special discount on NOse Offense Odor Removers

cat at microscope research

NOse Offense Odor Remover is a fragrance-free, environmentally friendly and super effective odor remover developed by using a patent pending technology based on the scientific principle of odor conjugation. NOse Offense is made with natural and organic indgredients,  doesn’t contain alcohol, phenols, aerosols, or phosphates, and is completely biodegradable. It is also eco-friendly and made from recycled materials.

I really like this product – you can read my full review here.

odor remover litter box odor fragrance free green

NOse Offense just launched their newly redesigned website, and to celebrate, they are offering an exclusive 20% discount on any purchase to Conscious Cat readers only. To claim the discount, “like” NOse Offense on Facebook, and use code CONSCIOUS20 during checkout. The discount is good through August 22.

For more information about NOse Offense products and to purchase, please visit their website.

Related reading:

Product review: NOse Offense for Pets

 

How to Prevent Litter Box Problems

cat using litter box

There is nothing as distressing for a cat owner as having a cat that eliminates outside the litter box. It’s also one of the most common reasons why cats are returned to shelters.

The reasons why cats eliminate outside the litter box vary, and include litter box aversion, urine marking, hormonal problems, and medical issues. When faced with inappropriate elimination (and this can be urine as well as feces), a thorough veterinary exam should always be the first step.

There are quite a few things owners can do to prevent litter box problems from happening in the first place, and the first step is to understand what cats want when it comes to their litter boxes. While some cats may be particularly fussy and need to have their bathroom preferences catered to in special ways, there are common errors that many cat owners, especially those new to cats and their needs, tend to make. These include:

Too few boxes

The rule of thumb is that you should have as many boxes as you have cats, plus one extra. This may mean that even if you only have one cat, you may need to have two litter boxes. This is especially important in multi-level homes.

The wrong location

Humans tend to want litter boxes out of sight, so they often end up in laundry or utility rooms or in dark corners of the basement. This may be fine for many cats, but it can cause problems if the area is not quiet. If the litter box is placed next to a noisy washer or dryer, or a furnace, and if the appliance starts up just as your cat is doing her business, she may never use that box again. Good spots for litter boxes are bathrooms, or a quiet room that isn’t used much.

The wrong type of litter

There have never been as many choices of cat litters as there are now. Unfortunately, many of the litters are designed more with the human in  mind than the cat. There is no perfect litter – each type has its advantages and its drawbacks. Most cats prefer a sandy substrate like clumping clay litter. While some cats readily accept some of the more environmentally friendly litters such as pine, wheat or corn, others will simply refuse to use a box containing those products.

Never use scented litters or scented litter deodorizers. Cats sense of smell is far more sensitive than ours, and the overpowering scent of these litters can be a big turn off for them.

Not enough litter

Keep at least 2-3 inches of litter in the box at all times – add fresh litter after you scoop out waste to maintain this level. Most cats like to scratch and bury what they produce, and they will get frustrated when there’s not enough litter to allow them to do that.

The box is too dirty

Scoop the box at least twice a day and remove all urine and feces waste. This is only possible with clumping litter. If you use a non-clumping litter, you should discard the entire content of the box whenever there is waste in it, and replace with fresh litter. If you use clumping litter, you should replace the entire litter about once a month.

The box is too clean

Don’t use harsh chemical cleaners to clean the litter box. All you really need to use is hot water and some mild, unscented dish soap. Let the box dry thoroughly before you replace litter. If you feel you must “sanitize” your box, use some bleach and hot water, but be sure to rinse thoroughly with hot water to eliminate any remnants of the scent of bleach.

Liners

Most cats don’t like liners. They don’t like the crinkly sound the plastic makes when they walk on it, nor do they like the way it feels under their paws.

Covered or hooded boxes

I don’t like covered or hooded boxes, and most cats don’t like them, either. They’re often too small for the cat to comfortably turn around in and do their business, and they trap odors inside, making it very unpleasant for the cat to use. Dust can also be much more of a problem in a covered box, as it becomes more concentrated. Cats will always breathe in dust when they dig in the litter box, but in a covered box, this becomes a bigger problem. If you must use a covered box, at the very least, remove the filters provided by some manufacturers. They’re designed to trap dust and odors, making it nice for you, but not so nice for kitty inside the box!

Litter mats

These mats are designed to trap litter that’s stuck to your cat’s paw and prevent it from being spread further throughout the house. The trouble with them is that they’re often made with nubs or deep grooves that don’t feel good on sensitive kitty paws, and this might stop a cat from going anywhere near the box.

By approaching the issue of litter boxes from the cat’s point of view, you can prevent many of the problems associated with inappropriate elimination.

Graphic: dreamstime.com

The well adjusted cat: feline behavior advice from an expert

The well adjusted cat feline behavior advice

Last Friday, I attended a day long workshop hosted by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, BVMS, DACVB titled The Well Adjusted Cat: Secrets to Understanding Feline Behavior. Dr. Dodman founded the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1986.

The workshop covered the gamut of feline behavior challenges from aggression to fears and anxiety, litter box behavior and furniture scratching, and medical problems that present as behavior issues.

I was particularly interested in the section on feline fear-based conditions, since Allegra is a bit of a fraidy-cat, who, even after more than a year of living with me, is still afraid of any loud and unusual noises outside the house.

I learned that fearfulness in cats is caused by a combination of nature and nurture. Genetics can play a part, with oriental breeds being more prone to fearful behavior. The most sensitive and critical learning period occurs between the age of 2 and 7 weeks, and much harm can be done during this period. According to Dr. Dodman, “kittens that are artificially separated from their mothers much earlier than normal develop a variety of behavioral, emotional and physical abnormalities. They become unusually fearful and aggressive towards other cats and people, show large amounts of random undirected locomotor activity, and learn less well.”

Dr. Dodman recommends treating fears with controlled exposure and counter-conditioning. For example, if a cat is afraid of strangers, try to habituate them to strangers by having the stranger give them treats. For inanimate fears such as thunderstorm anxiety or phobia, provide a safe environment where the cat can feel safe. He also recommends anxiolytic medications or an anxiolytic supplement such as Anxitane.

Feline litter box issues, not surprisingly, took up a large portion of the seminar. Inappropriate urination is the number one issue (along with intercat aggression) he sees at his behavior clinic. As with all other behavioral problems, Dr. Dodman first recommends that the cat owner get a thorough physical work up to rule out any medical issues. Barring any medical problems, the solution for many litter box problems is to provide an appropriate litter box for the cat. Common owner errors include having too few boxes, in the wrong location, with the wrong type of litter. Frequently, the box is too shallow or too deep. Many cats won’t like covered boxes, and liners or litter mats can cause additional problems. A box that is too dirty can be as much of a problem as a box that is too clean.

Then next section covered feline compulsive behavior such as wool sucking, pica, psychogenic alopecia (a displaced excessive grooming behavior) and feline hyperesthesia. Treatment for these conditions will vary for each problem, ranging from addressing the underlying stressors to behavioral and medical treatment. Environmental enrichment and counter-conditioning can help with some of these issues, while others may need medication. Dr. Dodman has had good results with fluoxetine (Prozac) or similar drugs in many of these cases.

The last section of the seminar covered behavioral problems that have medical causes. According to Dr. Dodman, medical underpinnings should always be suspected for a behavior problem, but especially when there is a sudden change in behavior, when the behavior is bizarre or extreme, or when an elderly cat is showing sudden behavior changes. Causes can range from hyperthyroidism to brain tumors and seizures.

One particularly dramatic example was the case of Noah, an adult, formerly normal cat, who began a low growl/moan when his owners were cleaning up their deck one evening. When the owners went into the house to check on Noah, he launched himself at the owner and ripped her clothes and flesh to shreds. The owner ended up leaving the house and leaving Noah alone that night. When she returned the next day, Noah had calmed down some, but was still riled. A month or so later, this happened again, and the owner took Noah to Dr. Dodman’s practice. He was put on anxiolytic medication. He did somewhat better, but weeks later, the owner still couldn’t get near him. Noah was hospitalized and treated with anticonvulsants, and has had no further incidents since. The conclusion was that his rage behavior was caused by a seizure.

Dr. Dodman also addressed feline cognitive dysfunction, a condition very similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. It is typically seen in cats 12 years and older, and is caused by physical changes in the brain. It can be treated with L-Deprenyl, a drug first used in dogs. Dr. Dodman has also had some success with supplements such as CO-Q10 and Acetyl L-Carnitine.

One big takeaway from the workshop for me was that many feline behaviors that we may consider problems are really just normal cat behaviors, and they only become a problem when we ask these creatures, that, as Jean Burden said, are still “only a whisker away from the wilds,” to share our living space. I believe that it’s up to us as cat owners to provide an environment that honors cats’ natural behaviors and still allows them to be cats. By respecting their unique needs, we only enhance the bond between cat and human.

Photo: morguefile.com

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Feline behavior modification tips

Keeping your single indoor cat happy

World’s Best Cat Litter Gives Back

World's Best Cat Litter

It’s always nice to see companies give back to their communities, and it’s especially nice when that giving is focused on cats.  After donating more than 23,000 pounds of litter to animal rescue groups in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, World’s Best Cat Litter™ is now focusing on supporting cats at three Texas shlters, the Austin Humane Society, Citizens for Animal Protection in Houston, and the SPCA of Texas in Dallas.

WBC is calling on “felinethropists” to join in their campaign, and it won’t cost you a cent, just a simple click of the mouse.  You can participate between now and May 13 by clicking on the badge in the right sidebar, or by visiting WBC’s website or Facebook page.  “We invite animal lovers everywhere to become part of the GiveLitter™ initiative and help these Texas animal shelters as they work tirelessly to address community needs,” said Paul Zobel, Senior Director of Marketing, World’s Best Cat Litter™. ”

World’s Best Cat Litter™ is a pet-, people- and planet-safe cat litter made with whole-kernel corn and other natural ingredients using a patented scientific process that delivers advanced odor control and clumping. Using no synthetic chemicals, clays or perfumes, World’s Best Cat Litter™ is biodegradable, flushable, septic-safe and all natural.

I really like the idea of this litter.  I just wish Allegra would, too!  Unfortunately, when I tried to switch from our current, clay-based litter, she refused to use the box with WBC in it.

Photo source: World’s Best Cat Litter website

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What to do when your cat is not using the litter box