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For Senior, Elderly Cats: Wee Wee Pads (not just for dogs)

Picture 9 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


kitty mama

This is just brilliant! I'm buying these today. I'm so tired of cleaning up my senior cat's pee just beyond the edge of the litterbox. Tried putting a large black plastic bag underneath, but then the urine just pools up, mixes with the scoopable litter and turns to cement. Thanks so much.

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the actual age that your cat may die is upon 9-10 years of age, thats why it is very effective for them to used this kind of litter box for their own health awareness.

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has anyone every thought that maybe the cat doesn't like the cat litter much> when i changed my cat litter brand, rolo hated it so much she did exactly the same thing the opening sentence in this article mentioned.

so i had to change it back to the original brand i usually get and she;s fine again.

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Sue Johnson

Our 16 yr old senior cat is doing the same thing, and it's nice to see that this is common. On the pads, most of them contain something that attracts dogs to use them, so I am chosing one that doesn't, since I have 2 other cats that still use the litter box properly

Melodye Jones

My 16 year old cat is very fastidious with his bathroom habits and always uses his overly large box; he gets in the box, but sometimes misjudges where his behind is located. He misses the back of the box, and the urine winds up all over the floor behind the box.
I am thinking about lining the back of the box with a piddle pad (with the top of the pad sticking up about 2" above the box).
Suggestions or comments?


The Starry Eye

In answer to Mel: I would place the wee wee pad under the box and let it stick out from the back end of the box. This way when the urine goes over the edge there would be a pad to catch it. But I'm sure if you try several ways, you'll find one that will work. Good luck.


my cat is 18 and a half and we're in the same boat. she uses them too. Agreed it's an untapped market (or else they just all buy dog pee pee pads as we do :)


Patricia Nesome

Question to Sue,
I'm looking for pads for my senior rescue cat, and I can only find ones that have "strong puppy attractant," i.e., pheramones for dogs. The people at the store said they might not work for cats.

What brands don't have that?


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This is a great comfort for dogs as well as for our pet cats to have a wee wee pads. This is very useful especially to those who have elderly cats. I have to say that cats wee wee stinks a lot. Having wee wee pads can prevent them from scattering their wee wee all over the house.


My cat is 20 and has become VERY picky about everything lately -- she has been peeing outside her box now, on the floor. I thought she was misbehaving (and all her blood tests are clear), but i think maybe she hurts to go into the box itself. I was putting down rags on the floor at first, but then i realized i was training her to pee on the rags!! That will not work for her to pee on cloth. I just fashioned a garbage bag around the litter box, high on the wall, with litter on it to see if that helps with her not having to get in/out of the box all the time, but i can't imagine taping down this same garbage bag and having the pellets shoot everywhere. I CANT BELIEVE i didnt think of a wee wee pad before! I am sure she will have no troubles, and this could solve everything. It was so convenient when my dog was a puppy i can't imagine why i was holding this from myself -- trying it today! Thanks so much.


My 14yo cat is having litter box issues as well... usually he doesn't even try to climb in the box, just goes on the carpet where he is comfortable (he's been to the vet twice and all his tests are normal). He tends to pick different spots, so I'm not sure the dog pads are the total solution, but I just thought of them today and am going to give them a try. I too thought maybe they made something like this specifically for cats. Maybe we should invent it and make our millions!

MJ Harris

Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

C. Chabinec

For our 20 year old cat, I found that a nice big Tupperware or Ster-lite plastic box--the kind meant for storage----works very well as a litter box, since she can no longer squat. Just use a saw or linoleum knife to cut a U-shaped opening (not too low) to allow her to get in and out. They are cheap enough to just throw away when they become too soiled. Then I ordered a tray somewhat larger than the box, and put the box in it, and the whole thing on a plastic tarp. Now I think I will try some puppy pads under the box, inside the tray. I am tired of mopping up!


Another great idea! Thanks!

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I have a pet in the house and I find it hard to train him. It made me angry if I found his mess just anywhere else. I will have to try this pad; this will be a lot of help to make my pet clean as well as the house.


I adopted a cat with known litterbox issues (not the smartest move, but she at least is the most loving cat on the planet).

After paying a couple of thousand for meds for her and cleaning up the messes (yeah, I failed to get my apt. deposit back), I figured out two ways to keep up with her urination issues.

1) I crated her during the workday. If I knew I would be away for more than a couple of hours I would try to crate her. She had a litter box, food, and bed in a cage. I wasn't thrilled with having her locked up, but she consistently used the litterbox when she was in a cage. And that meant less opportunity for her to urinate on the carpet.

2) And as this article pointed out--puppy pee pads are a lifesaver! My dear husband puts an extra thick trashbag down and then lays the pads on top. The cat likes to pee close to the edge of the pad, hence the trashbag to catch that overflow.


My cat is 22 and recently got a lot worse about missing the box. He'll almost be there and let loose. I think they just lose the ability to control after a while.

I was going on vacation and worrided about the mess I'd leave for the catsitter when a friend suggested pee pads. I was going to get the ones without the "puppy attractant", but forgot. My cat avoided the pad at first, but now he has no problem walking across it, or letting go if he can't make it to the box.

I totally agree about companies missing their market! Cats are living so much longer these days, and I keep hearing tales of them missing the box as they get older.

To those who are worried about the puppy attractant scaring the cat away, ask a dog owner if you can borrow one, or find a small package. If it doesn't work, you can always donate the rest of the package to the local shelter.


My Cat is 17 yrs old and I toilet trained him when I moved into a Condo(cause of my small place I hated the litter being everywhere). So he was toilet trained at 15 yrs of age to go pee and poo in the toilet. Voila no more litter box. But lately he as been peeing everywhere in the house and alas I brought the litter box back. And he is doing what everyone describes - his aim is majority outside of the litter box. Do you think if I just had the doggy pad - he would pee and poo on top of that instead of the litter box at all?

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