A cat should never be disturbed for any reason while toileting on a litter tray. Here is a really nice example of how things can go wrong.
Serena Cuthbertson’s cat, Fantasia, was ill and her vet prescribed pills. Serena had to administer them. We know how tricky that can be. After a few successful but difficult attempts at giving a pill Fantasia decided enough was enough and conveniently disappeared whenever it was pill time.
The one certain time when Fantasia was fixed to one place and clearly visible was when she was on the litter tray. It seemed a good idea to deliver the dreaded pill while she was doing her toilet. This worked out nicely and Fantasia recovered well. The world was at rights. Until….
Fantasia decided to go to the toilet anywhere but in the litter. Fantasia had decided that the litter tray was a place where unpleasant experiences took place. She had a made a classic association between two events. It was a case of unintended cat training with unforeseen consequences.
The argument goes that cat owners should never take advantage of a cat (or anyone) when in a vulnerable position.
Fantasia learnt that the litter tray was no longer a secure place to be. The cure was to try and make the litter tray once again an agreeable and secure place.
Serena was advised to move the litter tray to the place that Fantasia had used as a toilet area because this area was regarded as safe and pleasant enough by Fantasia. The idea is to break the association between using litter and an unpleasant experience.
Covered litter trays are possible the best because they are simulate the sort of area a cat might use outdoors (i.e. under a bush). I have a covered litter tray and it was used successfully by my late lady cat, Binnie.
I think cats like a bit of peace and quiet when doing toilet. The same for us. The positioning of the litter tray is pretty important. Also some cats don’t like to pee and poop in the same litter tray. I don’t know how commonplace this is. Two litter boxes may well be needed for one cat.
The basic rules for litter box location are, where possible:
- Quite location
- Private location
- Easy access (not upstairs for example)
- Pleasant location (not in some unpleasant place such as a basement)
- Not near food