The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

April 8, 2013

Ryan Richardson: House training cats prevents messy future

JOPLIN, Mo. — Last week, I had the pleasure of spending time at my mother's house with her two massive black cats, Boss and BeBe. I realized how much I missed having a cat around the house.

My time with them reminded me of the two wonderfully playful cats during college that, because of an unfortunate living situation change, now live with a friend. Their playful nature was always a bright spot for me, and their self-sufficiency let me not get overrun with the normal duties of taking care of a pet.

Though it may be a long time before I ever have a cat again because of my living situation, I still encourage readers to consider adopting a cat because of their adaptability in homes.

This recommendation was further exacerbated this week when I received an email from a reader asking about what to expect with a new kitten in the home.

I thought of what I went through when I adopted my two kittens and my first thought turned to house training. It is difficult, but putting in time and diligence with it will make it a snap.

My best suggestion is to make sure you have an empty room in your house for your new cat to adjust. Have some bedding on one side and a clean litter box on the other side. Cats do not want to sleep anywhere near where they do their business. You are getting them used to eventually going in a box and not on your carpets or furniture.

Now repeat after me: ÒI will clean this box at least twice a day.Ó Practice it. Preach it. Love it.

If the box isn't clean, then they won't use it. They are repulsed by their own urine smell and until they are trained to use it, they won't go there more than once or twice.

Remember that if you adopted a small kitten, it is still a growing animal and everything has not developed yet. Your cat will have accidents because the bladder muscles have not developed yet. If your cat does not have quick access to its litter-box at night, you will find yourself with a mess to clean in the morning.

It happens, but remember not to scold your animal. It is up to you to make sure that it has the tools at the right time.

For the times that you have accidents, it is important to clean them up as soon as possible. For that, a simple half and half mix of vinegar and water will do.

Barring that, anything without an ammonia component will work. Ammonia-based cleaners will encourage your cat to keep going back to the same area to do his business. I made this mistake for about three months before I found out why my cat was going outside of his box.

The initial struggle of house training is rewarding when you have a cat that won't make messes. Cats are extremely good about doing their business with minimal interaction from you, and when they don't, it's a good indication that something is amiss.

I congratulate the reader who took the time to email me: I hope that you stick with your new pet. The rewards are well worth it.  

Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at rrichardson@joplinglobe.com or 417-627-7363.

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