Get the Scoop on Cat Litter and Kitty Stress
When shopping for cat litter, you may find that there are dozens of brands and several types to choose from. From clay to biodegradable, most cat owners chose litter based on price or the odor resistance it provides. Regardless, the moment you bring home your furry friend, you introduce him/her to its own personal porcelain (or plastic) throne. Training a cat to use a litter box can take a few days to a few weeks. After a time, your cat relaxes to the fact that they know the smell, recognize the texture and placement of their “personal space”.
One day, your feline friend starts relieving themselves on the carpet, wood, anything outside of the litter box. Days turn into weeks or months and suddenly you worry your cat is sick, hurting, or has an infection. Your veterinarian finds nothing serious and you are left confused. Then it becomes clearer…your changed litter brands.
Did you know that switching cat litter brands and/or types can cause stress on your feline friends? Cats are creatures of habit. Cats can react negatively if something is perceived as a threat, change, or disturbance to their daily routine. Stress in cats can cause behavioral problems or feelings of withdrawal, the same as humans do. Stress can also cause a chain reaction of overwhelming feelings in other cats within the household.
How can we help our cats get through a stressful time?
First, pinpoint where the stress is coming from. Think about any changes that have been made recently, such as litter changes or sudden changes to their environment. The more you know about the change, the easier it will be to understand why your cat is reacting the way they are.
Think about setting up a Cat-Free Stress Zone. It may sound funny, but humans need space to unwind from the day, and our feline friends need the same. Think about a designated room in your house to set up some toys and provide a quiet chill area. Smells and sounds provide a constant in your cat’s life, which can help them be more relaxed.
Spend some time with your cat each day by making a playdate! Interact quietly, play softer music or bring out some fun cat toys for that one-on-one experience. Try playing classical music, such as Johann Sebastian Bach or Ludwig van Beethoven. Studies have shown cats react positively to this type of music.
If change is coming to your household, or if you absolutely must change litter brands, try not to do it suddenly. Make the change gradual. Think about mixing your current and new litter. This way, your cat will start to recognize new smells and feels, and its reaction will not be as drastic. Your feline friend will thank you…and so will your carpet.
All proceeds from Thousand Hills Pet Resort support New Life K9s. New Life K9s provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to them.