Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published September 16, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: A clean litter box essential

Dear Dr. Fox: Can you help settle an argument I am having with my wife? She insists that our cat’s litter box should be scooped and raked clean twice a day. It seems fine to me to clean it out every other day, adding new litter as needed to keep it about 2 inches deep. What is your opinion?

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: Can you help settle an argument I am having with my wife? She insists that our cat’s litter box should be scooped and raked clean twice a day. It seems fine to me to clean it out every other day, adding new litter as needed to keep it about 2 inches deep. What is your opinion? – A.W., Seattle, Wash.

Dear A.W.: This is a good question because I get the impression from some of the letters I receive that cats are refusing to use their litter boxes because the litter is not sufficiently clean. No cat wants to have to poke around where it has already urinated and defecated several times to find a clean, dry spot to evacuate, then have to turn around to cover it up and avoid stepping on soiled litter in the process.

I see no reason why you should not clean out the cat’s litter box twice daily. I clean out the litter four times a day on average for our two cats, who share the same box.

A dirty box can not only turn cats into house-soilers by triggering litter-box aversion, it also may play a role in cystitis and chronic constipation, common problems for many unfortunate felines.


Dear Dr. Fox: I was told that dogs see everything only in black-and-white. I was very sad to hear that, considering all the beautiful colors that God has created. Could you please comment on whether dogs see in color or black-and-white? I’m sure others will like to know. – D.R., Virginia Beach, Va.

Dear D.R.: To put your mind at rest: Dogs do not see monochromatically, i.e., in black-and-white. They can see two primary colors: blue-violet and yellowish-green. But they cannot distinguish red from orange or orange from yellow.

Their night vision is far superior to ours, as is their sense of hearing. But it is their sense of smell that sets them far apart from us, their natural endowment being demonstrated in their ability to track scent trails often several days old. Their sense of smell may also help them detect hormonal and emotional changes in humans that affect our pheromones and body chemistry.

So although they might not have the same visual experience as humans, dogs certainly outmatch us in other realms of the senses. It is also evident from the time they take to sniff various spots and from their apparent olfactory rapture during a walk that they are deriving considerable pleasure just like us, enjoying spring blossoms and autumn leaves.


Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

Tags: