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Litter Box Attacks

Excerpt from The Cat Behavior Answer Book from Arden Moore

Q I have a sweet, shy Persian named Princess and a bold Abyssinian named Max. I bouth Princess first before purchasing Max as a kitten about a year ago. Princess is three. They get along fine until Princess tries to use the litter box. Max seems to enjoy stalking her and pouncing on her when she tries to go. The litter box is located in the corner of the closet in the spare bedroom. I yell at Max, but it doesn't stop him. Poor Princess is becoming a bundle of nerves. She hasn't made any mess outside the litter box, but I'm afraid she may start. Any answers?

A Kittens will be kittens, but this is not acceptable. In a multi-cat situation, a dominant cat will pick on a shy cat. Persians by breed tend to be quiet, cuddly and nonconfrontational. Abys, on the other hand, are more outgoing and bolder. Also Max is younger and more rambunctious, while Princess has left her silly kitten days behind her.

With the one and only litter box located in the corner of a closet, Princess has no way to flee the scene when attacked. She feels trapped, and you are right to worry that in time she may start secretly urinating behind the couch and other places. The first thing you need to do is add two more litter boxes. The recommended number is one per cat plus one extra. Max cannot guard three litter boxes at one time. With more spots to choose from, he may feel less inclined to protect "his" litter box.

Place the new litter boxes in different rooms. Position them away from walls and in more open areas so Princess can view or see the doorway. This will give her a little more time to see Max coming and be better prepared.

Tempting as it is, do not yell at Max. You will only escalate the tension and anxiety that both animals are feeling. Instead, distract Max when you see Princess head to a litter box by engaging him in play or bribing him with a treat. Finally, if you have not already neutered Max, please do so. That will also tone down his bullying tendencies.

To learn more about your cat’s behavior, purchase The Cat Behavior Answer Book from Catnip.

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