by Sam Mazzotta
Dear Paw’s Corner: I read with in- terest your recent column about cats using shop towels rather than kitty litter to do their business. How did their owner manage to train the cats to use the towels and switch from litter? Why not just let a cat do its business outside?
—Caroline D., Winchester,
Dear Caroline: Compared with dogs, cats are usually easy to potty train (or litter train) because they have very specific potty behaviors. Cats instinctively bury their poop to hide their scent from potential predators—hence the use of cat litter, which also absorbs urine well and masks the scent for a few days.
I’m not sure how the reader did it, but one way to switch a cat from litter box to a pad is to place the new pad and tray next to the old litter box so that a cat can sniff around it, check it out and become familiar with it. After a day or two, remove the litter box and put the pad in its place. Many cats will get the message right away. Others might hunt around for their box; if you notice this, place them gently on the pad to help them make the connection.
I’m not a big fan of letting indoor cats go outside to do their business. They’ll often head straight for the nearest flower bed, leaving a surprise that I’m personally not thrilled about. They also are at risk in the outdoors, from coyotes, turkeys (yes, turkeys in the Northeast), cars, and other cats. It’s better to provide a safe spot in-doors with a clean litter box.
Send your tips, comments, or questions to email@example.com