Thursday, January 15, 2009

Litter trays versus next door's garden

Dear George,
What are your views on litter versus earth outside? My owner is trying to do away with the litter tray. I don't know whether to object or indeed how to object. There's a gardener just down the road who dug his vegetable patch last autumn (it's frosted and hard now) and there's a field with some corn growing in it. I could settle for those. But sometimes I think it's easier, and it's warmer, if I just use the indoor litter tray. What are your views?

Dear Fred
I am in favour of both. In the summer evenings I enjoy strolling down to the vegetable patch to see what Celia has been doing for me. When she's about to sew some seeds, there is often a nice fine tilth. Just what I need and with a pleasant earthy odour - until I use it. Next door's flower bed is quite inviting at times too. Mind you, sometimes the gardener objects. I have known gardeners that threw plant pots in unjustified aggression.
As for indoor litter, well indoor cats have to use it. The problem is sometimes the type of litter. Most of us cats like fine grained litter rather like sand. Clumps are useful for humans. They encourage them to clean up each time we go. It's expensive, of course, but what kind of human saves money on her cats? Besides, my personal view is that the more expensive easy-to-clump litter is cheaper in the long run.
Have your trained your human to clean up the litter tray often enough? She should clean in morning and evening - in the way that an old fashioned parlourmaid used to light fires in the bedrooms morning and evenings. This is the minimum. Personally I have trained Celia to clean more often if she is at home. I have convinced her that the only way to reduce the smell is to clean it as soon as I use it. If it gets too dirty (in my opinion) I wait till she cleans it, then I use it. It makes the point nicely.
Deodorants? I don't go there. They smell fine for humans but horrible to cats. Sometimes they even smell as if there has been an intruding tom in the house.Deodorising plug-ins or air fresheners? Even worse. We cats have sensitive noses. Human noses are barely functional so these artificial scents to use are the equivalent of how loud rock music day and night would be to them. None of us felines like them and some cats show their hatred of them by spraying them.
So, to sum up, litter trays should have fine grained expensive litter, cleaned twice a day, without deodorant sprays. The litter tray should be in a secluded area. Who wants to have to go to the toilet with everybody watching? Humans don't. Why do they sometimes think we will?
Finally, there should be generous amounts of litter. I like to DIG. It is part of the pleasure of relieving oneself. I get in, sniff a bit, dig a bit, then choose my area for the real digging and do it. Afterwards, I turn round, inspect what I have done (rather like Germans do with those specially designed human lavatories), and then dig to cover it up. I then jump out of the litter tray and rush upstairs or behind the sofa. Why? Because I feel like it. That's why. It's the litter skitter.
So, Fred, train your human to keep the litter tray down in the house. You will appreciate it in cold nights and it will be a godsend when you are ill. Lay down proper feline rules for type of litter, amount, type of tray, location and cleaning.
The ultimate sanction is simple. If you don't like it. Do it someplace else. The bed would be a good place to make sure she notices.
PS. Secretary away for this coming week. Back to college.


  1. I want you to know I have my human trained very well in this area, thank you very much! She has a litter box (US term) for my in the laundry room and I get to go outside, which I prefer. I only use that box when I'm left inside for a long time and they (my humans) aren't home to let me outside. I must admit, my humans have done a fine job with the litter. They do not use anything with a scent, and they mix the clay litter with the clumping kind. That works very well for me. AND as soon as I use the box they clean it right out for me. I told you I have them trained well, very well indeed. So I always have a clean litter box. They dig up a huge garden every spring and I really like that when the dirt is freshly turned, I even jump and play in that dirt, at my advanced age. I am rather active for an old gent--14 you see.

    It's been very cold here the past several days. I'm inside after my brief poop and snoop tour this morning. So I'm going to settle down for my afternoon nap. Tootles.

  2. We have very fine grained clumping litter and I won't use anything else. If we are out in our (fenced in) garden, I always come indoors to use the litterbox. My brother Eric prefers the greenhouse though, and mum has to scoop it regularly for him. If we are walking around the fields though, I like to stand up and pee like a real mancat. Of course, if there is a nice convenient dip from a horse hoof print, I would never let that go to waste.

  3. Well, we like to use the litter box inside. We each have our own litter box (I like to go into my sister's once in a while, just to drive Fluffy crazy, since she's so fussy):-)
    Our humans are well trained too; they use wheat natural litter, called "The Swheat Scoop" which clamps too. Of course they clean our boxes each time we go in.
    I like this SwheatScoop...when you smells like warm bread :-)
    It is so cold up here in Canada and we have so much snow that I wouldn't go outside, no way!


Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online