One of the biggest frustrations amongst neighbors of community cat colonies surrounds the cats digging and using the bathroom in their yard or garden. This can lead to calls to animal control, which will ultimately lead to the cats ending up in shelters and most likely, being euthanized. So how to address this issue?
An outdoor litter box is something all community cats want, and can benefit from. An outdoor litter box provides the cats with a proper place to use as a toilet, thus reducing the chances that they’ll do it where they’re not wanted. Outdoor litter boxes benefit everyone, as cats are happy to have a safe, quiet, private place to use the bathroom, as well as allows them to more easily coexist with neighbors.
So the next step is to build your cats their own outdoor litter box. There are different variations, but it’s smart to follow a similar blueprint as to how indoor litter boxes are built. First, build a frame. Start with a frame of four walls that are the correct height for the cats in the community. If there are kittens present, make the walls shorter so they can get in and out easily. If you’d like to cover it, feel free. This is especially important if you live in colder, rainier, or snowier parts of the country where the litter is likely to frequently get wet. However it can also be left open in drier, warmer climates. Covering the box makes it more like a shelter, which will help the cats feel hidden and safe. There’s no need to build a bottom, as you’re looking for easy drainage. Choosing the right litter is also key. Traditional litter won’t work unless the box is fully covered. Otherwise, use materials such as sand or peat moss. Finally, don’t overfill. Use just enough litter for cats to comfortably dig in, which is a big attraction for them in the first place.
When it comes to placement, choose quiet, hidden areas that would be attractive to cats. Out of the way areas that have little traffic are good choices. Also, keep it away from the cats’ food and water. Spend time observing their favorite spots, and place the boxes there, in particular where you’ve seen them use the bathroom before. If your litter box is uncovered, place it in an area surrounded by bushes or other plants so they can use the bathroom in private. Be sure to keep it clean, and scoop the boxes regularly, as you would a box indoors. Finally, give the box appeal by mixing some of the area’s natural soil and leaves into the litter so it appears familiar to the cats, and therefore safe. Discouraging cats from using other areas with humane deterrents will also help encourage them to use the boxes you’ve set up.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.