Month: November 2014

Is your cat a litter bug?

We put our cat’s litter boxes in laundry rooms, spare bathrooms, maybe an unused closet or enclosed back porch but wherever we put them the same problem exists — scattered litter.

Cats cover their business, some more enthusiastically than others, and often spray the litter outside the box.

There are some simple solutions to curtailing the problem. Note, I don’t claim we can eliminate the littered covered floor completely.

My cats have always enjoyed covered cat boxes. This style offers them some privacy and helps a bit in keeping the litter in the box. But litter comes out when the cat jumps out.

My daughter’s cat, Robby, is a broadcasting litter scatterer. Living in an apartment the locations are limited for the cat’s box. It’s in the one and only bathroom and Robby likes to kick out his litter. She has put rugs in front of the box, put boxes in front of boxes and changed litter, but Robby continue to spread the litter all over the floor.

Litter boxes don't have to be fancy. A plastic tub inside a cardboard box with an astro turf type rug can help reduce the amount of litter on the floor.
Litter boxes don’t have to be fancy. A plastic tub inside a cardboard box with an astro turf type rug can help reduce the amount of litter on the floor.

Everyone seems to have a different way to control this. The only guaranteed way is having a broom and dustpan handy. If you have a cat you will be sweeping.

Keep the litter clean. If the cat has to move around the litter to find a clean spot to go she will kick out litter.

Put the box inside a high side cardboard box. This allows the cat to spread the litter but it will be primarily contained in the cardboard box. But then you have to empty that box as well.

Another tip is to take a covered plastic storage bin and cut a large hole in the lid. put a litter box inside, snap the lid closed and the cat has to jump out of the hole in the top.

Making it too hard on your cat may result in them finding a secluded corner or your closet to do their business.

There are cat litter boxes that reportedly “clean themselves.” Folks that have tried these tell me the motor on the mechanism that “rakes” the litter drives the cat away.

What type of litter do you use? I keep to basic clay litter. There is a bit of dust when initially poured into the litter box but the cat seems to be happy with this. There is also clumping litter and litter with absorbing crystals. Not as big a fan of these. You really don’ t want a litter that covers the smell so well that you don’t clean the box regularly. Litter boxes need to be sifted out at least every other day depending on your cat.

If you change litter type, do so gradually by mixing the old litter with the new 75 percent old and 25 percent new the first week, 50/50 the second week, 25 old/75 percent new the third week until finally 100 percent the new litter. Most cats are not fond of change and litter is a very personal thing for most of them. Ease them into the new litter.

There are a few reasons a cat may stop using the litter box:

1. New litter has been introduced and he doesn’t like it

2. The litter in the box is dirty

3. The cat has a urinary issue. If you have not changed litter and keep the box clean, please take your cat to the vet. Animals can’t tell us when they are hurting so they will change their habits, like going outside the box.

Trouble

A friend and I decided to participate in the neighborhood annual yard sale. A great way to enjoy a beautiful Saturday afternoon, get rid of a few things and catch up without feeling guilty of what else needs to be done around the house.

As we chatted a yellow Labrador bounced across the yard. Soaking wet, no collar but lots of personality. It was easy to see this was a well cared for pup who had managed to get out. She sat when I told her to and was well fed.

Grabbing one of our spare leashes (I always keep one in the car) I looped the hook through the handle and slipped it over her neck.

Knowing the nearest veterinarian office had Saturday hours the Labrador and I hopped into the car to have her scanned, or could I get lucky enough that she would be a patient and the staff would recognize her?

Well she wasn’t a patient but the scanner detected a microchip. The staff and I cheered. We were going to reunite this lost dog and her family.

Micro chip readers are universal and can read micro chips from different micro chip manufacturers. This machine could make the difference in getting you and your pet reunited.
Micro chip readers are universal and can read micro chips from different micro chip manufacturers. This machine could make the difference in getting you and your pet reunited.

The vet’s receptionist called the clinic the chip company gave them. The clinic is where the breeder initially registered the pups. Oh, and it was in Ontario, Canada. A fair distance from the east coast of Florida.

After a series of calls back and forth a woman showed up on a bicycle and it was obvious this was the dog’s current owner. I told her what we had gone through to find her and suggested that she call the micro chip company and update the information so that the next time the dog gets out, something that was apparently a frequent occurrence, she could be contacted directly.

Oh, and the dog’s name?  Trouble.

Microchips

I am the Volunteer Manager at a large humane society as part of my duties I train volunteers.

One of the first things we do is take a tour of the shelter with the first stop being intake. This is the area where every animal comes into the shelter and is examined. The staff is checking the animal out to see if medical care is immediately needed and for a microchip.

Micro chip readers are universal and can read micro chips from different micro chip manufacturers. This machine could make the difference in getting you and your pet reunited.
Micro chip readers are universal and can read micro chips from different micro chip manufacturers. This machine could make the difference in getting you and your pet reunited.

I explain to the class that only about 5 percent of the animals brought into the shelter have a microchip implanted and most of those are the ones we gave the animal when it was adopted or treated at our outreach clinic.

Some of the myths about microchips are:

A. They have GPS. They do not.

B. All of the owners information is vulnerable. It is not.

C. It hurts the animal. Nope.

Microchips are no larger than a grain of rice and are injected just under the skin between the shoulder blades. They can migrate under the skin which is why when an animal is being scanned for a microchip the Vet or Vet Tech should run the hand held device all over the animal not just between the shoulder blades. This does not hurt the animal just a bit of a pain for the person trying to locate it.

If a microchip is detected a series of numbers displays on the scanner screen. This is the number the vet tech will read out to whichever company registered the chip. The only people with this access are veterinarians, shelters and qualified animal care individuals.

GPS might be a neat thing, it would certainly be easier to find your pet but microchips do not track your animal (or your) movements.

Microchips are an excellent form of identification. While there have been rare occasions when they have fallen out, they are the best form of identification and quickest way to get your pet back home. These don’t replace tags but generally people do put personal information, phone number, on their tags. Tags also are more likely to fall off.

Microchip 2

The dog is scanned for a micro chip.  Like most dogs that come into shelters. this one did not have a micro chip.
The dog is scanned for a micro chip. Like most dogs that come into shelters. this one did not have a micro chip.

Microchips should be checked on a regular basis and before you are going on a trip, or leaving your dog with someone. Most vet offices don’t mind if you stop in and have your dog or cat scanned. It is also important to ask your vet to check your pet’s chip during vet visits.

All the scan will do is verify the chip is still in place. It is up to you to keep the information current. You can call the company to update and verify information. There will probably be a nominal, one-time charge for any changes, but knowing your pet is properly registered is well worth the expense in my opinion.