Litterbox Tips for Maine Coon Cats

Get 6 quick-fixes to litterbox mishaps with these tips.

By Farrell Clancy

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Maine Coon Cat Litterbox
Although hormonal changes or undue stress may be the root of your cat's litterbox mess-ups, five smart decisions on your part can potentially remedy a significant number of your cat's litter problems.

Missing the Box
Urine marking is an anxiety and stress-induced condition that causes cats to urinate on rather unusual surfaces, but once recognized, it can be treated by making environmental adjustments, encouraging behavioral changes or using medication.

Although most male cats will start marking their territory when they reach puberty, “if neutered, this comes to a halt in 90% of cases,” says Nicholas H. Dodman, BVMS, Dipl. ACVB, ACVA, professor of behavioral pharmacology at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts. Females can also mark, especially when they come into heat. Female marking also ceases in 95% of spayed cats. “The purpose of urine marking isn't to empty the bladder, but to send a signal,” Dr. Dodman says.

Some urine marking occurs in already neutered or spayed cats, therefore ruling out hormonal causes. Instead, urine marking is usually a “territorial anxiety caused by other cats either inside the house or a frequent window-visitor from the neighborhood,” Dr. Dodman says.

Other anxiety triggers often include the arrival of a new baby, workmen in the house, quarreling family members or anything that may induce stress. “It's a dead giveaway if your cat starts urinating on vertical surfaces, such as the wall or drapes,” Dr. Dodman adds. But your cat may also mark on other unusual surfaces, such as on the laundry, the computer keyboard or shoes.

To narrow down the source of your cat's anxiety, note where it tends to eliminate. “If your cat is urinating around the window, you can guess it's stress caused by an outside visitor,” Dr. Dodman says. If your cat urinates on a particular family member's clothing, “it could be that the cat is very attached to that person and goes on the clothing when that person leaves for work,” he speculates.

Work with your vet on the best course of action for your cat, but Dr. Dodman insists that “these days, there's no reason why any cat with a litterbox problem can't be cured either completely or almost completely, either by behavioral adjustments or medication.”

Litterbox Size
Select an appropriately sized litterbox for your cat. Babies start off in bassinets, move on to cribs and then toddler beds before finally graduating to a genuine “big kid” bed, so it stands to reason that the litterbox you purchased just after bringing your tiny Maine Coon kitten home would eventually be due for an upgrade. Make sure the box is large enough for your Maine Coon to urinate in one corner and defecate in another.

Litter Choice
Choose a comfortable, scoopable litter. Many litter types are available, so you might have to experiment to find one your cat likes. Litter that clumps together makes it easy for you to scoop (hence its commonly referred to as “scoopable litter”) and keep up with frequent cleanings.

Clean and Neat
Dump and clean often and thoroughly. My guess is that you scrub the bathroom toilets at least once a week. Doesn't your Maine Coon deserve the same consideration? It's not always enough to rely on daily scoopings because urine and feces can easily become caked-on to the sides of the litterbox over a short amount of time. When you do dump and clean, a dash of dish soap and warm water is all you need.

Litterbox Placement
Make litterboxes accessible and convenient. Your first instinct may be to tuck your cat's litterbox in the corner of the basement where it's hidden away from guests. But by doing so, you're actually making it inconvenient for your cat to use its litterbox. This also makes it harder for you to tell when it's dirty. Instead, place litterboxes on a main floor where your cat can easily find (and use) them.
Plenty of Boxes: Provide enough potty places. Most of us consider more than one bathroom in our living space a necessity, and your Maine Coon is no different. The rule of thumb is to have one more litterbox than you do cat: for instance, three litterboxes for two cats. But even if you only have one cat it should have at least two designated potty spots.

By making these simple changes, you'll probably see fewer accidents and you'll definitely have a happier, more appreciative cat!
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