As promised in my previous post, more on feral cats and litter boxes. In my experience, adult feral cats don’t take to using a litter box for the first time as quickly and easily as most kittens do. I would suspect lifelong outdoor cats react the same way.
So whether you are bringing in a formerly feral cat that is far enough along in the taming process to spend the night in the house, or if you need to keep one inside after a medical procedure, this can be a big problem.
For me it started with keeping them in a large crate in the house overnight after medical procedures. The crate was big enough for them to have a nice space to lay down, small food and water dishes, and a small litter box.
I was concerned that they wouldn’t take well to the litter box, and my absolutely wonderful vet tech suggested using regular dirt from our yard instead of cat litter. She had clients who had had success with that with outside cats.
So, that’s what I did. Mr. Tom figured it out pretty quick. He used the box the first time. Fluffy and Gorgeous didn’t go for it right away. Fluffy didn’t have to stay in very long, so she just went nuts to go out, and finally got to go outside before she had an accident. Gorgeous used to pee in the crate outside the litter box.
That was one reason why I was so worried that he wouldn’t adapt to being inside and to being cooped up for his nosectomy. But, he did eventually start using the box, and now that he isn’t confined in a crate, he still goes to the box! We are going to start the transition to cat litter soon.
Now, there are surgeries where dirt may not be appropriate, but in those cases regular cat litter won’t be appropriate anyway. When I worked for the vet we always used shredded newspaper instead of cat litter. That was in the late 80’s, when there weren’t as many cat litter options. The reason for using newspaper was that it didn’t stick to the incisions and possibly cause infections, and it didn’t have the dust to irritate their lungs.