Our team continues to be here for you and your cherished pets. We are OPEN and are now able to provide a wide range of services. To learn more about the changes we have implemented in response to COVID-19 and what to expect during your next visit, click here.


Inappropriate Elimination – Urination/Defecation

Why do cats inappropriately eliminate?
Reasoning can vary greatly, most commonly it is due to a medical issue of some sort from UTI, crystals, FIC to even pain being caused by something unrelated to the bladder. The first step to dealing with inappropriate urination in a cat is to see your veterinarian. They will run diagnostics and determine whether we should be moving towards a behaviour control approach or a medical one.

Litter Pans
First and foremost, we must have the right litter pans, litter, placement, amount of pans etc. Cats are very picky about where they eliminate.

  1. You should have one litter pan per cat and then one extra (ex. You own three cats you should have four litter pans).
  2. Cats are about texture so do not change between different types of litter regularly. It could make them eliminate all on their own. If you have used sand litter from the time they were a kitten, keep using that. If you adopted as an adult, you make need to trial a few kinds. In that case, you can buy small bags of each and fill different litter boxes. After a day, see if they favoured some types over others. Use that type.
  3. “Research indicates that house cats without elimination problems will dig in their litter boxes longer before eliminations, whereas cats that dig for four seconds or less prior to elimination may be candidates for elimination problems.” Cats need to have at least three inches of litter in their pan at all times so they can dig appropriately. They want to be able to hide their eliminations.
  4. Size and style of litter pan are important. If you have an older, arthritic cat, they may opt to eliminate inappropriately because they cannot get into the litter box due to the height of the sides. Some cats feel uncomfortable in covered litter pans, remove the cover. Cats tend to prefer a large litter pan, using a large “under the bed” rubbermaid bin as a litter box often helps encourage them to use it.
  5. Placement is also key – you should have space between all litter pans. If you have them grouped together, it’s essentially like having one big litter pan. Cats want to have a choice in where they can eliminate. Try to place the pans far enough away from each other (i.e. if you have them in your basement, try to place one in each corner of a large room).
  6. Placement continued – Make sure you have the litter pans in low traffic, quiet areas. If something happens to deter them from the area around their litter pan, they may inappropriately urinate because they are uncomfortable going back to that area. There is a lesser chance of this if it is in an area of the home that most people don’t go to. Other animals should be blocked off from the litter area. Children and adults should not be near the cat(s) when they are in the litter box, nor should they pester in the area.

It is something that often goes forgotten, but is so important. Cats are naturally clean animals and want to eliminate in a clean area. Litter pans should be cleaned at least once daily, sometimes twice daily.

So what is normal?
Cats eliminate in 3 ways:

  1. Squat Urination – This is when they squat to urinate, and the elimination is a puddle in the litter.
  2. Urine Spraying – Though we as humans tend to find this appalling, it is normal behaviour for some cats. It is not the norm for most cats and is typically seen in cats who are not spayed or neutered, and is more prevalent when in estrous.
  3. Defecation – This is done in a squatting position. The average housecat defecates once daily.

What other tips are there?
So you’ve followed all of the above rules for a clean and inviting elimination area for your cat and you are still having issues. Here are some other things that you may need to try:

  1. Pheromone product such as Feliway or Feliway Friends.
  2. Block off the areas of the home that they are most commonly inappropriately urinating in. Ensure you have also cleaned these areas thoroughly with an enzyme eliminator.
  3. If you use liners in the litter box currently – remove them. Same with additives like baking soda.
  4. Using catnip to encourage the use of the litter box can be helpful in some cases.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at 902.434.0700.

Written by: Blair Lutes, Site Coordinator



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COVID-19: Additional measures we are taking

Dear Clients,

Due to the close contact that our work requires, we have taken additional measures to protect you and our team while providing care for your furry family members.

The following policies were updated Monday, June 1, 2020:

1. We are currently operating a "closed waiting room" policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and use your cell phone to call us at 902.434.0700. We will confirm your information and a receptionist will come out to bring your pet into the clinic for an examination with the veterinarian. If you have an iPhone, we have set up our clinic iPad for you to FaceTime with the vet during the exam or we have the capability of doing Skype for video-calling during the exam as well. If you do not have either of these as options, once the examination is finished, the veterinarian will call to discuss our recommended treatment plan over the phone while you remain outside. A staff member will then return to your vehicle with your pet and bring any items to go home with you. Please ensure your pet has a properly fitted collar or is in a secure carrier. Please remove any additional clothing or blankets prior to our staff handling our patients to minimize risk to our team. We will either ring you through at your vehicle with our portable debit/credit machine or we accept credit card payments over the phone. We are not taking cash at this time.

2. We are still OPEN but are working with limited staff and trying to limit human exposure, including staff-to-staff, as much as possible with deep disinfecting occurring after we close for the day.
Monday, Thursday: 7:15 am - 9:00 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 7:15 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Sunday: CLOSED

3. If you are ordering food or medications, please allow 2-4 business days as our suppliers are dealing with increased demand and are trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. We will advise you as soon as your order arrives. Please call us when you arrive to pick up your order, but do not enter the hospital. Our staff will bring your order to your car and take payment over the phone or via our portable debit/credit machine at your vehicle. You can also use our online store and have your food delivered directly to your home or order and pay via the website and pick up at the clinic. To sign up for the online store, visit our website.

4. For the time being, we are not accepting cash as payment. Credit cards and debit card payments are still available.

5. Following the recommendations of our government and medical experts, we are doing our best to practice social distancing within the constraints of our roles. As such, we have taken measures to avoid both contracting and facilitating the spread of this virus. You may see our team members wearing additional protective gear when interacting with our clients and patients.

Thank you for helping us be diligent for everyone's safety. As we have heard from all levels of government, the situation is fluid and any updates will be provided as changes occur.

- Your dedicated team at Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital