All I do is ask cat questions! Litter Box edition
February 19, 2015 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Mrs Binkleton and Crocket Man are new roommates. Everything seems to be going as well as it can I guess, but there's a litter box dilemma, but I'm not sure if it's in my head!

Binky is 4 years old, and pretty docile. She's very much MY cat, she snuggles with me, sleeps with me, "kitty kisses" me with her eyes.... while I was on vacation for a week my fiancé, who was at home, noted that Binky was missing me a lot. Her favorite pastime is watching the birds out the window and sleeping all day. she never mis-behaves, never jumps on counters - she's just a wonderful cat.

We then adopted Crocket, a 9 month old kitten who is the polar opposite of Binky. He's all: "OH MY GOD - WHAT'S UP THERE? CAN I JUMP UP THERE? I'M GONNA JUMP UP THERE! WOO HOO LOOK AT ME, I'M ON THE COUNTER. WHAT'S IN THAT CUPBOARD? I'M GONNA GO IN THAT CUPBOARD. I'M GONNA RUN LIKE CRAZY ALL THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE WOOO HOOOOO!!" basically, he's adorable, full of energy and VERY curious.

Binky and Crocket were very gradually introduced - we did everything correctly as far as I'm concerned. Of course there was a little bit of hissing at first, but that's all gone away now and they definitely seem to be getting to know each other and getting along.... they're not BEST friends, but they have slept in the same cat bed together and they sleep on the bed together at night. Binky still swats at Crocket every day when he bolts up to her at 100miles per hour - and I think that's an appropriate reaction! He'll calm down eventually I think!

Anyway, the problem lies with the litterbox. We have 2 boxes, one upstairs, one downstairs - both open boxes and in discreet, quiet areas. I'm already planning on getting a third box to see if that helps.... but, I don't know that this will fix the issue.

The issue is, that because Crocket is so curious about everyone and everything, as soon as Binky gets up and moves to go to the litterbox, little Crocket is all up in her face running at her, wanting to see where she is going. She was sitting in there the other day and he ran in and interrupted her. In this circumstance it seemed as if Binky didn’t finish what she was in there to do. (She’s like her Mum, she needs privacy and peace and quiet!) Crocket on the other hand will do his business in ANY scenario…. I was cleaning the litter tray the other day and he came in, sat in the half empty box and proceeded to do a #2!!! You see what I’m dealing with!

Anyway, Binky is now running to the litterbox and we are doing our best to distract Crocket with games and such, so that he leaves her alone. Binky is going VERY quickly and doing her business, but she does seem agitated and stressed. Yesterday she didn’t use the litterbox at all for #2 as far as I can tell.

The “distract Crocket” technique is all well and good when we are around, but when we’re not in the house, I worry that Binky is making herself sick by not using the littertray. There haven’t been any accidents yet, but I’m wondering if they might start.

So – I’m really asking for advice on what to do in this situation! I’m seriously worried and at a loss as to how to help. Do I just have to wait for Crocket to calm down and keep with the distraction techniques, or is there something else I can do to help the situation? What can I DO??
posted by JenThePro to Pets & Animals (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You're absolutely right to let Binky correct Crocket when she doesn't enjoy his antics. An older female with younger male cat is a harder situation than the gender swap of it. Female cats get crankier with kitten antics than male cats. He'll grow out of it, though, and it sounds like they're getting along well.

For now, just keep him from pestering her quite so much and give her a safe spot to get away from him. Perhaps for now keep them separate while you're gone, or even install a collar-operated cat door into a laundry room or something that Crocket doesn't get access to. Traditionally, the new kitten gets a bathroom or perhaps an upstairs/downstairs split. They'll grow out of it as Crocket learns what's acceptable.

You could try getting a third catbox with a more exclusionary opening - like a tunnel, or a box inside furniture - that way Crocket can wait until she's leaving the catbox rather than using the catbox.

Now's also a perfect time to use treats/toys to train Crocket to come to his name!
posted by bookdragoness at 8:59 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Crocket's behavior is very kitten. He will grow out of most of it.

If you're not encountering accidents outside the box, and Blinky isn't showing aggression or agitation outside of using the box, I'd say just wait and see.

There are enclosures you can buy that unlock only when a specific cat is trying to get inside. It would require them wearing a collar, training, and a lot of money because they're expensive.

I would trust Binky to bop Crocket one if she gets annoyed enough.
posted by royalsong at 9:01 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Black-and-white kitties RULE! I have two of them!

I have two young boys and two older girls, and yes, the girls DO correct the boys when the boys get too pesty. Unless someone is really getting bullied, it's best to let the kitties work things out themselves. Neville and Jack have learned that a hiss and/or swat means "leave my sisters alone and respect their space." There are far fewer hisses and swats now than there were when each boy was newly introduced.

Cats are matriarchal, and the worst inter-cat aggression I've ever seen has been between two females. (In my house, the boys LOVE each other, the boys and girls get along fine, but the two girls just tolerate one another.) Binky and Crocket are likely to settle into a truce once Crocket learns to respect Binky's space.

I've found that separate litter boxes - one for each cat plus one extra if you can manage it, but at least have two litter boxes in separate spaces - is a key part of inter-cat harmony. Same with sleeping and perching spaces - have enough kitty condos, scratching posts, furniture, etc. for both your cats to have choice places to sleep and hang out. If there are enough resources (perches, litter boxes, food and water dishes) to go around, the cats are much more likely to get along, and there are far fewer incidents of litter box avoidance and serious bullying leading to traumatized kitties.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:26 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

What sweet Tuxedo Cats!

Some kitties just love to see what you've got going on when you're trying to use the restroom. My two follow me in there and try to have a conversation with me. What Ev.

Binky will school Crocket in proper litter box decorum if it's really a problem for her.

Don't attribute human emotions to cats. If Binky needed privacy, she's swat at Crocket until he left her alone. As long as she's not eliminating outside of the box, you're golden.

Let them work it out.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:01 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Crocket sounds very kitten-like! He will almost certainly calm down a lot over the next year or so. In the meantime, you might try tiring him out a bit - I find that laser pointers are excellent for this (if your cats like them) because you can sit still and they can sprint around at top speed.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:36 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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