I’m thrilled to let you know that I’ll be working with Tidy Cats again this year to bring you an inside look at new products. This also means we’ll be hosting even more litter giveaways so you’ll have a chance to try it all out and see for yourself why this litter is so great. In fact, at the end of this post you’ll find instructions for how to win a jug of the new LightWeight 4-in-1 Strength litter! But first things first.
Tidy Cats recently sent me a jug of their new litter to try out. My mom emptied my litter box, gave it a good scrub, then refilled it with the 4-in-1 Strength litter. At first I was hesitant because I’m a bit cautious when it comes to change (hey, it’s scary when things are unpredictable!), but once I found my bravery I realized that this litter is actually pretty cool! Here’s why:
The “4-in-1 Strength” part means this litter fights four of the worst parts about litter boxes: ammonia, pee and poop smells, and loose clumps. My cat nose has 40 times the smelling power of my mom’s measly human nose, so keeping those smells in check helps me feel more comfortable in the litter box.
The tighter clumps mean less stray bits of used litter being left in the box when my mom scoops. That keeps the litter fresher for longer.
The lightweight technology means my mom can store the extra litter on a higher shelf so it’s not cluttering up my litter area. Without the extra bulky containers hanging around I can easily see if my sister is sneaking up on me.
Want to try a jug for free to see if your cat agrees with my review? Simply answer this question for a chance to have a jug of Tidy Cats LightWeight 4-in-1 Strength litter sent right to your doorstep (plus some cat toys!):
What’s the most important feature you look for in a cat litter?
A winner will be chosen on Saturday April 9th. Act fast!
Q: Dear Nora, I live in an apartment with one small kitty. I love everything about her…except the litter box. I have a hard time remembering or finding the motivation to scoop it every day. Is it really necessary? Or can I get away with just scooping it a couple times a week?
A: Did you know that your cat’s sense of smell is FORTY times stronger than yours?! It’s true. You have about 5 million smell receptors in your nose, but your cat has 200 million. So if you think the box is stinky, imagine that smell being 40 times stronger. Not pleasant, right? Imagine how you’d feel if your toilet only got flushed a couple times a week. And if you had to stand in it each time you peed. So in short, yes, you do need to scoop every day.
Here are some ideas for making it easier to remember and do regularly:
Place the box in a visible place. Seeing it regularly will remind you to scoop. And if you’re scooping every day it won’t be a smelly thing to have around.
Keep a Litter Genie by the box so it’s quick and easy to dispose of the clumps you scoop out.
Make scooping a part of your daily routine by tacking it onto something you do every day anyway. For instance, do it every night after you brush your teeth or every morning before breakfast.
Q: Dear Nora, My dear cat is suddenly pooping outside of her litter box. Nothing is new about the box. It’s in the same location, we’ve been keeping it the same amount of clean, etc. What’s up?
A: Cats are finicky creatures and we can start pooping on the floor at ay time for a variety of reasons. We’re also very tuned into the smallest changes that you may not even notice yourself. Pooping outside the box is always a sign that something’s wrong and some of the potential problems are medical, so get your cat checked out by a veterinarian right away (and don’t forget to bring a stool sample). Here are some non-medical reasons this may be happening:
If you have multiple cats, other animals, or small children, your cat may be feeling threatened. Cats are always in competition, whether subtle or obvious, and your cat may be scared to enter the litter box in case she gets ambushed by another. If you have multiple cats, make sure there are enough litter boxes. The general rule is one box per cat plus one more. Make sure you place them in various places around the house so each of your cats always feels safe.
Where is your litter box placed? Is it in a dark area like a basement or closet? Perhaps as your cat gets older she’s having a hard time seeing the box well. Try adding a night light to the room.
You say nothing has changed about your box, so these next few may not apply to you. But there are some other reasons a cat may be pooping outside of the box that I wanted to cover for my other readers:
Your cat may not like the type of litter in the box, whether it’s the scent, the way it feels on her feet, or another reason. Try a new brand or type.
Some cats simply don’t like pooping in the same place they pee. You can try adding another litter box to your household. Place it in a different area of your home.
Are you keeping it clean enough? Cats have very strong senses of smell (40x stronger than yours!) If you aren’t cleaning the box at least once per day, she may be boycotting the filth.
Q: Dear Nora, My cat, Fiona, has lived inside for her entire life. She has never had to hunt for her food. Still, she stalks and “hunts” at any opportunity. Why does she do this if she knows I’ll dependably feed her twice a day?
A: Unlike many other domesticated animals, cats still maintain very strong instincts from their wildcat ancestors. Some behaviorists say domestic cats still have three paws in the jungle. That means that even though your domestic cat is thankful for the food, love, and indoor safety, her instincts will drive her to stalk and pounce even if she’s not particularly hungry.
The instinct to hunt is a key component to your cat’s health since it keeps her body and mind active. If you don’t already, encourage her inner-hunter by adding a wand toy or laser pointer to playtime!
Q: Dear Nora, My cat never goes outside, but I’m pretty sure I saw a flea jump off his back yesterday. Is that even possible?
A: Unfortunately, it is possible. I actually have first hand experience with this. My sister and I got fleas last summer, and neither of us had been outside since we were rescued years ago. There had been a stray cat hanging out by our front door and I think a flea jumped off of him and slipped inside through a small gap in our door. It may have also hitchhiked in on my mom’s sock.
If you suspect fleas, ACT FAST! Those little buggers can multiply like crazy and quickly get out of hand.
Happy New Year! I hope you– all of you, feline and human– have had a great 2015! This has been a big year for me. We added a new cat to my family, we moved from a busy and noisy street in New York to a green and bird-filled neighborhood in North Carolina, and I decided that cuddling isn’t so bad after all! I’m excited to see what 2016 has in store for all of us.
As you may know, Dear Nora has been teamed up with Tidy Cats this year. We’ve given away jugs and jugs of free cat litter and other gifts to many of our readers. As the year comes to a close, we’re giving away our most exciting gift yet! One very lucky Dear Nora reader will win a year’s supply of FREE TIDY CATS litter (in the form of 12 free-product coupons)! Wow!
And that’s not all! Tidy Cats has teamed up with Adam Ellis, author of one of my favorite books Tiny Hats on Cats. If you don’t know who Adam is, be sure to follow him on Instagram. His posts are adorable and hilarious. Adam wants to help your cat ring in the new year in style, so he’ll be sending the winner a hand-crafted tiny hat for your kitty!
What’s your cat’s new year’s resolution?
Tell us in the comments by January 1st for a chance to win a whole year’s worth of Tidy Cats litter and a custom made tiny hat from the amazing and talented Adam Ellis!
Q: Dear Nora, Sometimes when my cat is happy she lays on her back and displays her cute little belly to me. It’s nearly impossible to avoid touching it since I know it will be so soft and squishy. However, every time I reach out to touch it she scratches and bites me. Why does she do this? Is she just taunting me?
A: I know, it’s confusing when we do this. The first thing you should know is that, generally, if your cat is flashing her belly at you it’s a sign that she really trusts you. All of our vital organs are tucked away inside there and exposing it to you leaves your cat in a vulnerable position– she won’t lay belly up for just anyone! When you go in for a belly scratch and she attacks you, it’s not because she has been taunting you. It’s just that you have triggered a reflex that she uses to protect herself against danger. Try going in slower and giving her some warning– it may help. But some cats simply don’t want their bellies touched ever, and you may have to resign yourself to living without it.
Q: Dear Nora, I’m thrilled to be hosting my very first Thanksgiving dinner this year. My cat is social and sweet and I think he’ll love having a house full of friends and family who will be eager to pet him. Are there any things I need to keep in mind to keep my cat safe during this celebration?
A: Celebrations are fun. I personally like to celebrate from under the couch, but it sounds like I’m much more of a loner than your cat. There are a handful of ways your Thanksgiving celebration could be dangerous for your cat, so it’s a good thing you asked! Here are some tips for keeping him safe:
Keep him out of the kitchen, if you can. The kitchen can be an extra dangerous place for your kitty during a food-based holiday. Everything from a stovetop full of hot burners to stray knives on the counter to extra feet accidentally stepping on paws– not to mention the possibility of him tripping you while you’re walking with something hot or sharp.
Know which foods are toxic. Thanksgiving is full of foods that can be toxic to him. Check out this handy food guide from www.peteducation.com.
Dispose of dangers quickly. Dispose of strings and plastic wrappings in a timely manner so your cat can’t ingest them. You probably don’t want to spend your holiday at the Emergency Vet.
Careful with candles. Candles are obviously a fire hazard if he tips them over. He can also get burned by brushing up against a flame or hot wax.
Don’t let your guest feed him table scraps. Cats always think they want to eat what the humans are eating, but we have very sensitive stomachs and eating scraps can cause tummy issues. Trust me, you don’t want to clean up the aftermath of that.
Keep the door closed. Things can get confusing when a lot of people are coming and going. Keep an eye on the door to make sure it stays shut and that your cat isn’t lurking around the door waiting for his chance to make a run for it.
Know which potted plants and cut flowers are toxic. Your guests may have good intentions when they bring you a bouquet of flowers or a potted plant, but many of them can be dangerous if your cat gnaws on them. Reference the ASPCA’s toxic plant guide to be sure!
Know the Poison Control Hotline number. Always a good thing to have on hand, just in case: (888) 426-4435
Create a safe space. Even a social cat may get overstimulated in a home full of guests. Make sure he has a place to escape to if he wants to nap in peace. This can be as simple as moving his favorite bed into your bedroom. You may want to relocate his food and water dish for the day too.
A: I am also a long haired cat, and I can tell you that coughing them up is about as fun as you stepping on them. Unfortunately there’s no way to stop hairballs; they are just an inevitable part of living with a cat. There are some ways you can help reduce them though! Here are some ideas:
Groom your cat regularly. If he’s coughing up hairballs you can take it as a good sign that he has a healthy and regular grooming routine. Give your cat a good brushing once a day, though, can help reduce hairballs by brushing away some of his loose hair before he ingests it while grooming himself.
Consider a diet change. There are a lot of cat foods that are formulated to help control hairballs. Generally these foods include extra fiber to help the hairballs move more quickly and efficiently through your cat’s digestive system.
Use a hairball product. If you don’t want to change his diet (or if you can’t for whatever reason), there are some products out there that will do a job similar to what the specially formulated foods will do. These are usually gels that can be licked off his paw. They’ll have a mild laxative effect to help him pass the hairballs more quickly.
Q: Dear Nora, I’m adopting a new cat this week and I couldn’t be happier to add her to our family. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cat and, I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed by the litter options. I remember when my only choices were clumping and non-clumping. How do I choose between all the different ones? How do I know what’s best for my cat and family?
A: Litter has come a long way over the past several years, and the choices can indeed be overwhelming. It’s hard to know what your new cat will prefer once she gets home. Some cats are very adaptable and some are set in their ways. Paying attention to what kind of litter she has been using at the shelter can give you some clues about what she’ll dependably use in your home.
I really like the Selector Tool on the Tidy Cats website because it asks you a few simple questions about your home and lifestyle (Do you have one cat or more? Do you prefer to scoop every day or change the litter once a week? Stuff like that), then it’ll show you which type of litter is best suited to your specific situation. Give it a try!
In fact, all Dear Nora readers should give it a try and comment to let me know what it tells you. We’ll send five free product coupons to THREE lucky readers so you can choose whatever litter works best for you and your cat. We’ll choose the three winners on Thursday December 3rd, so hurry up!
I’m not a veterinarian (obviously. Cats aren’t allowed into veterinarian school). The information you’ll find here is strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. Dear Nora is not intended to diagnose and we encourage regular visits with your local veterinarian to address any medical or behavioral problems.