Cat Food Bowls, Litter Boxes, Kitten Eats Litter, Digging in Water Bowl

Alana Stevenson, Cat Behaviorist, answers questions from Life With Cats readers.

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How man
y bowls for multiple cats?

Q:  I have a question about feeding multiple cats. I have 11 cats that I free feed dry food. Is it better to have an individual bowl for each cat? Or, should I have several large bowls, or a continuous feeder? Just wondering how best to feed them. – Debbie

A:  This mostly depends on the dynamics between the cats (how well they get along) and the space of the location you feed them in. I would suggest multiple feeders or large bowls of dry left out and refreshed daily (I would do the same for water bowls–keeping the water bowls away from the food). Depending on the interactions between cats, I would put food bowls in more than one location. For wet food or treats, I would feed them communally (at the same time), but giving each kitty enough space so they can position themselves comfortably. Again, this will hugely depend on the interactions and relationships between the cats. For wet food, I would use individual bowls or plates or medium sized plates where 2 cats can share. Divide the food on the plate so that kitties can position themselves without jostling for the same food. Feeding multiple meals of wet or treats together will help them bond. You can put place mats down and/or feed each cat within his/her own personal space. Everyone should have options and everyone should be comfortable.

Which cat is urinating outside the box?

Q: I am looking for some cat advice…my fiance and I have three cats at home. All three cats have lived with each other for almost 2 years now. Our older and larger cats, Winston and Lizzy have been together for three years. Our youngest and the runt is almost 2 years old now. Just two days ago we noticed that one of the cats is peeing in the house…first time on a blanket in the closet, second time on my sweatshirt in the front office, third time on my fiances gym bag, also in the front office. How do I figure out which cat it is and what could be causing this? We haven’t moved recently, no change in food or litter. Could one of them be sick? Help! Thank you! – Jenn

A: You can get fluorescein from your vet and give it to one of the kitties. It is safe. The urine will fluoresce or glow quite vividly under a black light. You can give it to each of your three kitties at separate times to help determine who is urinating outside the box. Once you find out who it is, it will be important to rule out any medical issues, such as a urinary tract infection, especially if it is a new behavior, and you believe the boxes to be clean, and there are no issues between kitties. If there are any issues between the cats, such as hiding, stalking, or aggression, this will have to be addressed. See How to Resolve a Litter Box Problem.

My foster kitten eats the clay litter, but won’t use the box. How do I get him litter trained?

Q: I need some insight. We have a foster kitten. When we got him, he and his sister were just pulled off a mountain and had been there for AT LEAST two days in 100+ heat. Sister died two days after we got them. Brother is thriving. BUT — I cannot get him to use the litter box! When we got them from the rescue group – We estimated their age to be about 4 weeks, although very tiny. He is now about 7 weeks. When we put clay litter or clumping he EATS it like it’s food (and very quickly) – newspaper, he will not even go in to the box (it’s small). I’ve tried the walnut shell stuff for birds and he eats it too. And Ideas on how to get him litter trained. PS is growing well – but still tiny. – Yvonne

A: If he is eating the clay, it may very well be he is ‘needing’ something in his diet which he is not getting (or even getting something in his food, he shouldn’t be having). You may want to switch foods or go to a higher quality food source. Are you still bottle feeding? Since he was 4 weeks, he was still nursing or should have been nursing. He would be being weaned about 7-8 weeks. In actuality, feral cats in colonies can sometimes nurse or try to nurse even at 6 months of age. They often continue nursing to 12 weeks. So, there is a good chance he is oral because of the early weaning and again may be needing certain foods or nutrition he is not getting or did not get.

Also, make sure the box is large (width and length, not height), very clean, easily accessible, away from food and water, yet in a location that is safe and he can see all entries and exits. The litter box should not be too far away for him to get to or be in a hidden corner. You may want to simply start with some potting soil which may be a more natural substrate for him. If he uses the box, then slowly add your alternate preferred litter so that gradually the litter replaces the soil. Swheat Scoop is a wheat litter that is clumping and is safe to ingest. Corn based litter that is clumping is also to my knowledge safe. You will want to make sure he is not fixating orally on the litter before you switch back to clumping clay. See How to Resolve a Litter Box Problem.

 


Why does my kitten
dig in his water bowl?

Q: I have had cats for many years but now I have a kitten, Sebastian, who has a tendency to dig in everything, when he uses the litter he digs to China, I am used to that but he even does it to his water bowl. Do you have any idea why? – Erica

A: Most likely he is playing or interested in the movement of the water and just curious. Many cats like running water and there are cats who will play with their water bowls, especially if the bowls are small and plastic or metal and move easily or make a ‘tinging’ sound. These style bowls are not very appealing to cats when it comes to drinking water. So he may have more interest in playing with it. If you get a large ceramic bowl, such as a salad or soup bowl, and put this bowl, filled with clean water, in a location away from the food bowl i.e., near a sleeping or a social area, he will start drinking the water. If he is doing it for entertainment, depending on his age, he will most likely grow out of the behavior.

Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2012

 

Alana Stevenson can be contacted through her website www.AlanaStevenson.com. She provides consultations by phone & Skype.

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