poop is not a toy
December 31, 2012 10:56 AM   Subscribe

My very playful kittens love their litter boxes . . . a little bit too much. How can I encourage them not to play in the litter boxes, and more importantly, not to take their poop out of the litter box to play with?

The kittens are just over three months old. If they are awake, they are playing with something. Res is the biggest troublemaker and most likely to play with poop, but Essie will also join in. The playing with poop is not for lack of toys, and the playing in the litterboxes is not for lack of kitten-specific hidey holes. If we notice the poop playing, it's easy to distract them.

We have three litterboxes (one covered, two uncovered) and do our best to keep them clean all the time, but we do sleep and leave the house. The kittens use the litterboxes just fine; they usually pick a favorite for the day and will both use it exclusively for a while, then once all three boxes are clean, they'll pick a new favorite. I have no idea why, cats are weird.

I've thought about a top entry box like this, but I'm not sure if the kittens would use it. They're fine using a covered litterbox without the door, but refuse to use it if I put the door (a swinging door) on.

I saw this almost identical question from several years ago, but I'm hoping for more suggestions!
posted by insectosaurus to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How high are the sides of the box? Perhaps you need to find a box with sides low enough for the little guys to jump in and out, but high enough to discourage dragging poop out?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:55 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can test out a top entry box by just filling any storage bin with litter and leaving the lid off. If the kitties take to it, you can get all fancy by carving a hole in the lid with a box cutter if you want to cover it up a bit (the lid offers very little to the cats themselves, it's more for improving the aesthetics of having a big bin full of cat litter in the house).

The nice thing about using storage bins/top entry boxes is you can fill them up with several inches of litter which means your cats can bury their business deep: for most cats out of sight is out of mind.
posted by jamaro at 12:39 PM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I generally use crystal litter for my cats, but when I adopted my third cat, his previous owner gave me a jug of clumping litter. I used it in one of our boxes and all of a sudden my 4 year old cat thought that box was some sort of sandbox carnival ride and we would frequently find him joyously rolling around in it, used or not. He does not do this with crystal litter (thankfully). So maybe try a different type of litter with a different texture?
posted by eunoia at 1:07 PM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

My cat use to love playing in the litter box when she was that age. She wouldn't drag anything out, just dig and turn around and dig some more for 10 minutes getting litter all over the place. I went to Petsmart and asked if they had any ideas when we were buying more cat litter. They sent me over to the cat adoption people who said the kittens love the fine grain litter and will play in it which is why the kittens got the bigger grain litter.
I switched over to the bigger grain clumping litter, instead of the fine sandy clumping type and it stopped my cat from joyously flinging litter out of the box. She still dug more than she needed to but it was more like a few minutes, instead of 10 minutes. Try changing the litter size. It really helped me. Maybe if the litter is less fun, your kittens (so cute) will get less excited and leave everything in the box.
posted by stray thoughts at 2:15 PM on December 31, 2012

Those are such pretty kitties! I love Essie's "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" face!

We use the Breeze system. It has really large pellets and our cats like it appropriately (use it just fine, don't play in it) Ours is enclosed in a credenza, which keeps the pellets from being thrown around.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:58 PM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like different litter and possibly different litterboxes are the way to go - we will experiment with litter first, try higher sided boxes if that doesn't help, and report back!
posted by insectosaurus at 4:58 PM on December 31, 2012

Try filling the box deeper, if possible. Cats need at least 3 inches of litter in the box, but with scooping and such, it gets lower than that quickly. If they have more depth to bury their poops they'll be less likely to dig them out and play with them again.

Also, I have a top entry box and I got it when one of my cats was 18 years old. If that old stubborn fart Storm could adapt to it, your kittens shouldn't have an issue. My other cats use it with no problem.

And finally, Essie is the spitting image of my very first cat, Rain, who lived to the ripe old age of 21 and was the sweetest and smartest cat ever. I'd link you to a picture but she died so long ago that all we have are real (unscanned) photos. But seriously, split face and all--exactly like her.
posted by Fuego at 9:42 PM on December 31, 2012

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