How to identify inappropriate feline elimination
The most common concern expressed by clients about their cats' behavior involves inappropriate elimination. In fact, it's the single biggest reason cats are relinquished or euthanized. But the cause of litter box problems can usually be identified, prevented and treated successfully.
At each veterinary visit, encourage clients to observe their cats' behaviors at home. Using a history checklist not only enables you to assess behavior in a consistent manner at each visit and note potentially worrisome changes, but it also teaches clients which behaviors to monitor. (Download a short questionnaire clients can complete when they arrive at the clinic at http://dvm360.com/behaviorquestionnaire.)
To help facilitate this client discussion, here are a few sample questions:
Feline welfare issues
The key to resolving elimination concerns is to identify a pattern in the choices the cat makes. Unfortunately, before relinquishing or euthanizing a cat with inappropriate elimination problems, few people ask if the cat's behavior is reasonable or if its elimination and litter-box-related behaviors are true behavior problems for this particular cat. Given the risk factors for not using the litter box and for marking, we should be prepared to discern the well-being of a cat as part of any assessment of elimination complaints.
Complaints about feline elimination patterns can involve those associated with litter boxes and with marking. Concerns about litter box use generally involve one or more of the following—specifically, the cat: