An essential piece of equipment for any cat owner is a litter tray. The tray should be placed in a warm private area away from any cat flaps or windows so that your cat feels comfortable and does not perceive any threat from outdoors. It should also, if possible, be away from food and water as well as any busy parts of the house; a discreet corner is ideal.
Size and shape also play a part as cats need ample space, with the desired length of a litter tray being around one and half times the length of your cat. Similarly, depth and type of litter can play a part in whether your cat will take to using the litter tray.
Styles of Litter Trays
Litter trays come in a variety of shapes and sizes but there are two general kinds of styles. One kind is an open tray that has depth but no cover; the other kind is a tray that is closed or has a removable lid, with some even including a cat flap.
There are many variations of these two basic designs of litter trays with some being triangular in shape to fit perfectly in a corner, for example. A lot of cat owners choose the covered trays to try and offer their cat as much privacy as possible whilst ensuring that the smell and visibility of cat excrement is kept out of view.
However, not all cats will like to go to the toilet in a confined space with just one exit point, especially if there is more than one cat living in the house; this is where open litter trays can be more useful.
Litter itself can come in various guises in terms of materials including corn, paper, silica and wood. Most of the materials used for litter are biodegradable, lightweight and have brilliant odour-neutralising qualities to help cover the smell of excrement.
Most cats prefer the fine sand-like litter as this is the type that most resembles the material cats would use in the outside world. If you keep the same litter you used when your cat was a kitten, then they should be quite happy using the litter tray throughout their life.
It is important to regularly clean and empty the litter tray out for health reasons as well as keeping the smell at bay. Some disinfectants can be toxic to cats so only use cat-friendly disinfectant that has been diluted in hot water, making sure the tray is properly rinsed and dried before putting the fresh litter back in.
Self-cleaning trays are becoming more and more used by cat owners but not all cats will like these due to the noise and movements that some of the self-cleaning mechanism can make.
Other options available to aid with the clearing of a litter tray include polythene litter tray liners that make it easier to remove old excrement and litter from the tray, as well as litter deodorants to help mask the smell. However, some cats may not like a strong odour covering their own; indeed many cats like their own scent and so some owners may leave a tiny bit of an old litter in with the fresh litter. In addition, the polythene litter tray liners can cause some cats to constantly catch their claws in the soft rubbery material. This in turn can be unpleasant for the cat and lead to soiling problems.
As with most equipment for your pet, choosing the right size and type of litter tray depends entirely what works for your cat and what they are comfortable with.
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