If you have an elderly pet you know that advanced age brings new challenges in pet care. My elderly cat used to be very persnickety about her litter box routine. She would daintily step into her covered box, circle around a few times to find the best spot, do her business, use her paw to carefully pull litter over the soiled area, completely burying it, and then emerge scattering only the tiniest bit of litter.
Boy has that changed over time. Now she steps in quickly, immediately squats, turns around and steps out. Litter gets scattered, smells arise (uncovered soiled areas do smell), and -- in the last year, she often doesn't step in far enough and she pees outside the box! (She would be so embarrassed to know that I have discussed this in public.)
Because our cat has also gotten a bit arthritic, my husband was certain that if he removed the cover of the litter box, which added an inch or so to the height she had to step over, she would get in easier and would no longer pee outside. And so, over my objections, he removed it. Not only did the area get smelly quickly without the cover, she could now pee over any one of four sides and the mess just got worse. So we comprised -- we sawed off the part of the cover that she had to step over to get in and then we put it back on.
While I couldn't change our cat's behavior, I did come up with a solution that I love -- I put a wee wee, puppy training pad under the front of the box. She still pees outside often but the pad catches it all and is easily changed and there are no odors. The pad also catches all the litter spill and when I scoop her box, I pick up the pad and slide the litter back in. Specifically, I have been using Hartz Training Pads Maximum Protection Puppy Pads. These work well for me and the price is good. The product description, in case you are not familiar with these:
. . . are made with an absorbent polymer and cotton fluff which allows the pads to absorb moisture and odor with no mess. These pads are specially designed to absorb moisture fast and dry to the touch to prevent leaking and tracking. We've created these pads with plastic backing and tear resistant materials to provide strong protection for your floors and ensure easy disposal. These puppy pads are perfect for house breaking newborn puppies, extended stays indoors, traveling, and senior or ill dogs.
I just assumed that my cat's behavior/problem was unique until I read the book about Dewey, the library cat. When Dewey got to be a senior cat he also started uncharacteristicly peeing on the paper outside his box. So now I am thinking that this might not be so unusual. I'm surprised that manufacturers are not recognizing the senior cat market for their products. Are there any other senior cats out there with this problem?
I am glad that I just happened to think of this solution -- it has certainly made living with our senior cat much more manageable.
A reader of the blog suggested another brand of pads that she found to be very good. They are Lola Bean International 16-Inch by 20-Inch Quilted Pet Training Pads, Unscented, 50 Count