Cats make great companions for many reasons, one of which is that they come with their own pre-trained method for waste disposal. Simply show new cats the litterbox, and generally, they’ll be good to go. Felines are naturally (and understandably) very picky about their hygiene, so here are three litterbox “do’s and don’ts” to help you keep your kitties happy:
1. Give your kitty some privacy!
Most cats like to do their business alone, so be sure to put your cat’s litterbox in a “low traffic” area of your home. This area should be clean and quiet and make your cats feel “safe” in order to avoid accidents. Also, there should be one litterbox per cat in each household.
2. Scoop, clean, and replace often.
Cats are very clean animals, and they don’t like using a dirty litterbox. Would you? Ideally, one should scoop the litter pan twice a day. Be sure to replace all the litter in the box monthly and also scrub the empty box with a mild soap. Replace litterboxes once a year, as plastic can retain odors.
3. Before you scold your cat for going outside the litterbox …
Ask yourself if this is the result of something else. Is the litterbox clean? Have you recently changed your brand of litter? Or could your cat be sick and trying to tell you something? Consult your veterinarian for advice immediately if your cat has diarrhea or is having “accidents” outside the litterbox.
Remember that not every litterbox—and not every litter—will work for every cat. As I’m sure you know, cats are individuals who have their own tastes, preferences, and personalities. Of course, this is what makes them so wonderful, but at times, their stubbornness can be both adorable and annoying at the same time! How do they do that?!
Above all, be patient with your cats. They depend on you, and while you may be busy or have other places to be or people to see, they have only you. Give them the love and care that they not only need but also deserve.
This post originally appeared on PETA.org.