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How Do I Keep the Litter in the Box?

Q: Dear Nora,
My cat kicks litter all over the floor. I’ve heard that cats don’t like covered litter boxes, so I want to avoid them, but I’m running out of patience. Do I have other options? 

iamthegreatwent @ Instagram
iamthegreatwent @ Instagram

A: You’re right to steer clear of the average covered litter box. We’re wild at heart, and always assume that there’s someone waiting to pounce. So when it comes to litter boxes, we like to be able to see what’s around us and have multiple exits– especially if there are other animals living in the home.

There are litter boxes on the market that have tall sides. Boxes with high sides are great, as long as your cat isn’t a kitten or arthritic. This box is also great– it has the benefits of a covered litter box, but gives your cat the ability to see if anyone is lurking outside.

How Can I Reduce Litter Tracking?

Q: Dear Nora,
We use pine litter in our cat’s litter box and generally like it, except that we find it tracked all over our home! What can we do to minimize the mess? 

iamthegreatwent @ instagram
iamthegreatwent @ instagram

A: If you hate finding litter tracked throughout your home, pine is the worst choice of litter for you. Our little kitty feet can trap an amazing amount of litter and we can trap even more with fine-textured pine. There are some options though.

If you are set on pine, put a textured mat outside the litter box. The mat will release the litter (most of it, at least). Some cats hate the texture of mats though and will avoid the litter box if you use one, so have a mat-free box available while you’re introducing the mat, to make sure your cat won’t do her business elsewhere.

If your kitty has extra tufty toes like I do, it helps to trim the hair between them (only to be the length of the pad of her foot– don’t actually trim between her toes). If you don’t feel totally confident that you can trim the hair without cutting her pads (ouch!) take her to a groomer.

If you want to reduce tracking even more, consider using a litter that is made of larger granules. You can even switch to the pine pellets. The bigger granules are less likely to get stuck between toes and tracked throughout your home– especially combined with a mat outside the box.

Review: Tidy Cats LightWeight 4-in-1 Strength Litter

strength_LI’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!

*This is a sponsored post


Do I Really Need To Scoop The Litter Box Every Day?

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?

iamthegreatwent @ instagram
iamthegreatwent @ instagram

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.

Why Is My Cat Pooping On The Floor?

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?

iamthegreatwent @ instagram
iamthegreatwent @ instagram

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.

Win FREE Lightweight Litter!

gladetoughodorsolutions_MAs a Tidy Cats Insider I get an exclusive first look at new products, which I can then pass onto you! In fact, Tidy Cats and I are teaming up to give a free sample of their newest product to TEN lucky Dear Nora readers! Read on to find out how you can enter to win…

Last week, my friends from Tidy Cats sent me a sample of their newest innovation: Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter with Glade Tough Odors Solutions. I gotta admit, I was skeptical that it could be the solution to MY tough odors! But I was impressed! I used the litter box right after my mom filled it with this new litter (typical) and the Glade kept the odors in check without overpowering our home with an artificial perfume.

Not only that, but Tidy Cats Lightweight with Glade is 50% lighter than traditional clumping litters, makes tight clumps for easy scooping, and comes in a jug that is both resealable and recyclable with two handles for easy carrying and pouring! What could be better?!

To enter for a chance to win a FREE sample of this exciting new product, leave a comment about what you love most about your cat. That’s right, just brag about your kitty and you could be one of TEN lucky readers to have Tidy Cats Lightweight with Glade shipped right to your home! Act fast, ten lucky winners will be chosen at midnight on Saturday, August 1st.

Check out this video for more information about this new product!

Feline Diabetes

Our dear friend, Pippi, died one year ago today after a two-year tussle with diabetes. Pip lived to the grand old age of 17 and had a pretty great life right up til the end, when she passed away curled up in her mom’s lap, surrounded by friends and family, thanks to the help of Sarah Nolan at Capital District Mobile Veterinary Services.

Before she was diagnosed, we didn’t know anything about feline diabetes. But, it’s amazing how fast you learn things when someone you love is counting on you to make the best decisions for them. Here’s what we learned through Pippi’s experience:

The Symptoms

  • Frequent urination. When Pippi became ill, she started peeing a lot. When I say “a lot”, I mean we had to completely change the litter every single day because she had soaked it straight through. Because of her need to pee more frequently, she also started occasionally peeing in other rooms when she couldn’t make it to the box. My mom learned pretty quick to add more boxes in more rooms to make it easier for Pip to find one.
  • Always thirsty. The amount of water she was consuming was one of the biggest tip-offs that something wasn’t right. Her water bowl, which would normally only be 1/4 empty by the time it was freshened each morning was suddenly bone dry within just a couple hours.
  • Big appetite with weight loss. Pippi was hungry for the entirety of the two years she was diabetic. But no matter how much she ate, she lost weight.
  • Lethargy. Granted, Pip was 15 years old when she was diagnosed, so she wasn’t the most active and spry cat around. Still, there was a distinct change in her behavior that let us know she wasn’t feeling so hot.

The Veterinarian Visits and Lab Results

I have to admit, we Googled Pippi’s symptoms before our vet appointment. It’s hard not to, when information is just a few clicks away. As you probably know, this almost always goes badly. When we showed up at the vet, we were convinced that one or more of her vital organs were failing her. So, when our vet suggested that she may be diabetic and explained how treatable feline diabetes is, we rejoiced!

He weighed her and took samples of her urine and blood to send to the lab. The lab results confirmed his suspicion of diabetes and we met with him a few days later to discuss our options. At that meeting, we learned how to successfully administer an insulin injection and asked all of the questions we could think of.

Never hesitate to ask your vet to explain anything you don’t understand. Sometimes medical professionals get into a habit of speaking in ways that are too wordy or complicated for the average person to understand. Don’t feel bad about asking them to back up and make it simpler. They want you to understand because they know it’s the best way to keep your animals healthy. Let them know if you need more info! Remember: they work for you!

The Treatment

Each cat is different and the treatment plan will be tailored to the cat’s particular situation. When Pippi first got diagnosed, she was a Type II diabetic. That meant that her body was still producing insulin, just not very efficiently. Our veterinarian prescribed a twice-daily insulin regimen and a diet change. He suspected that a high-protein, low-carb diet (which he called the Catkins Diet) could eventually stabilize her blood sugar and wean her off of the insulin altogether. He was right! Within a couple of months we were able to taper her insulin doses until she didn’t require insulin anymore. A year later, however, she switched to a Type I diabetic. Her body stopped producing its own insulin and she became insulin-dependent for the rest of her life.

As I said, each diabetic cat will have a different plan that will work best for them. Some will require insulin injections, some may be able to take an oral hypoglycemic medication, and some will simply need a change in diet. Your vet can help you choose the right plan.

We spent a lot of time at the vet during the last two years of her life. Her condition required regular checkups to make sure her sugar levels were stable and to keep an eye on her weight. It wasn’t easy (or cheap!), but I really do believe that our persistence, our great relationship with our veterinarian, and our confidence to ask for answers and clarity helped Pippi live a happy, comfortable, and relatively healthy life after her diagnosis.

Additional Resources:
The Pet Fund – A non-profit that provides financial assistance for veterinary care.
FelineDiabetes.com – A comprehensive website about feline diabetes.



Our friends at Tidy Cats sent us some coupons for free litter and we’d like to pass some off to you, our loyal readers! Each winner will receive FOUR coupons for free Tidy Cats litter, valued at $12.99 each. That’s over $50 worth of free litter! Sounds pretty great, right? It gets even better: we’ll be sending coupons to TWO winners! How do you enter to win? Well, it’s pretty simple:

1. Use the bar to the right of this post to SIGN UP FOR THE DEAR NORA NEWSLETTER. You’ll get weekly tips, tricks, news, and offers sent straight to your inbox.

2. SHARE THIS POST through your own social media and TAG NORA through Facebook and/or Twitter.

Winners will be chosen on Saturday June 27th.





*Due to the details of the Manufacturer’s Coupon, this offer is only open to U.S. readers.


Why Does My Cat Poop on My Bed When I’m Away?

Q: Dear Nora,
My 2-year old cat is generally great about using the litter box. We never have any problems except for when we go away for more than two nights. Although we have someone check on him and feed him while we are gone, he has always pooped on our bed when we return. We have three litter boxes in the house and this never happens when we are home. I’m sure he’s just upset with us, but how to I get him to stop?

A: The problem isn’t that your cat is upset with you. Cats don’t think like that. Your cat is likely either just stressed because you are gone and he doesn’t understand why you aren’t there, or there is something missing from his routine while you’re away (attention, playtime, etc.) and he’s making a statement about feeling neglected.

To deal with stress, I am a big fan of the Feliway plug-in (it comes in a spray version too. But the plug-in would be best if you’re out of town for a few days). Feliway mimics the pheromones that cats create when they are happy and content. It helps cats stay calm and comfortable even when their environments change.

I see that you have people check on him and feed him while you’re gone, but how long are they sticking around? Is he getting proper attention? Cuddles? Play time? Consider hiring an actual professional pet sitter who will be sure to give him the proper amount of time and affection while you’re away.

How Do I Keep My Dog Out of the Litter Box?

Veto (cat) & Cuddles (dog)
Veto (cat) & Cuddles (dog)

Q: Dear Nora,
Thanks for your advice about avoiding covered litter boxes. I’d like to provide an uncovered box for my cat, but my dog loves to snack on cat poo. Any ideas? 

A: Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s even more important to have uncovered boxes if your kitty is co-habitating with other animals. Not being able to escape the litter box is a legit concern if she sees the pup sniffing around. And, trust me, your cat eventually will find other (safer) places to do her business– maybe in the middle of the kitchen floor or in your new boots.

Instead, put the litter box in a room that doesn’t need to be accessible to the dog (laundry room, spare bedroom, bathroom, whatever) and install a hinged baby gate in the doorway. If your dog is big, you can install the gate 6 or so inches from the ground so your cat will easily be able to slip underneath. If not, install the gate closer to the ground and put something (a box, stool, piece of furniture) on each side, so your kitty can easily jump over the gate. The hinge will allow you to get into the room easily to clean the box daily, or you may be able to just step over the gate.