Elderly arthritic cat - shopping for a new litter box

Our elderly cat Napoleon (yes, I know the rules!) has, among other complaints, a missing front leg and pretty significant osteo-arthritis in his remaining front leg - and possibly elsewhere. (you can hear the joint clicking when he walks)

He gives no indication of being in pain (cats often don’t), but he vocalizes A LOT when using the litter box. He vocalizes constantly anyway - he’s extremely talkative - but it’s noticeably more now when he uses the box, and he was having a significant problem with having litter caked to his back feet - we assume because he was having trouble maneuvering in the box and stepping in the pee clumps - so we took the top off his main litter box. He definitely seems to appreciate this, but we believe we also need to switch him to a very low-sided litter box so he has an easier time getting in and out.

The problem is that litter boxes with truly low sides seem to be nearly non-existent. So we will be going to the Container Store to look for a suitably sized low sided plastic bin to use as a litter box. If we find something he likes we will replace his other boxes with it.

I have two questions:

  1. if you have a cat with mobility issues, do you have any advice on size or type of box to use? I am thinking of a plastic bin inside a much larger topless cardboard box to try to contain scatter.

  2. has anyone tried using puppy house training pads in lieu of litter? Any success or horror stories? Napoleon hasn’t even attempted to cover his leavings in about 10 years. Wondering if he’d know what the puppy pads were for.

I have a 10-year-old cat with litter box issues and diabetes. He gets litter caked to his feet sometimes and doesn’t want to use the box. I keep puppy pads near the box and in some other choice places and he does use the pads. It hasn’t eliminated the problem completely in my situation because sometimes he misses the pad and has other issues.

Will he use a pad more than once? If I put pads down in the morning and don’t have a chance to change them out immediately after they get used, wondering how finicky my cat would be. Cats is weird, after all.

What about one like this with a ramp up? Even if he won’t use it with the dome on, it might be a good solution. I have a pet sitting client whose cat uses one like this. The litter seem to clear off her feet when she’s coming back down the ramp and she doesn’t track it all over.

A few points:

If he is crying in pain while urinating, you should take him to the vet to eliminate any urinary tract or kidney issues. It can be a sign of kidney failure, in which case you’d need to make dietary adjustments. The sooner he is checked for that, the better.

For the clumping to the back feet, you might try crystals instead. They stick less. If you decide to try the crystals or the pads, I suggest adding a thin layer of the litter he is used to at first, to help him acclimate. You can stop doing that once he’s used to the new system.

In terms of trays, this one might work for you: Low Tray at Amazon. I have one and it’s definitely low.

He’s not crying in pain, luckily. It’s pretty much his normal tone of voice, it’s just new that he talks so much in the litter box. We joke that he’s talking to his poop. He gets a checkup every six months and had one just 2 weeks ago. He has mild kidney disease that hasn’t gotten any worse or any better for the last 5 years. (ETA - they test his urine and blood at every visit, and he’s doing OK. The fun part is the blood pressure check. He does NOT like that, but to continue on his BP med he has to suffer through it. :slight_smile: )

We’ll try out crystals, and that pan looks pretty low. I’ll check it out!

Very interesting. I’ll see how it looks size-wise. He’s a fan of a roomy commode.

My cat can’t really use them more than once because he tries to cover up his waste afterwards just as if he were using litter, so he bunches up the pads. If he tries to use them again, urine just goes everywhere. Like I said, he has issues! You might not have that problem since you said your cat doesn’t “cover” anymore. I think my cat does try to use the same pad more than once but it just makes a mess - it’s hard to tell what’s going on because he bunches the pads up so much and sometimes there’s a mess. I keep pads in more than one place to try to minimize the incidence.

ETA: I forgot to mention I keep the litter box and the pad next to it all in a large, low tray so if urine runs over the pad, it’s still in the tray and doesn’t get on the carpet.

Disposable aluminum baking pans. Many sizes and side heights from which to choose, and you can use tin snips to cut a “door”, with lots of tape to cover the sharp edges. Is he on any pain medication or supplements like Cosequin? Often the only way we know how much pain they’re in until we take the pain away. My little 18-year-old was Supercat after we put her on Buprenex.

What a beauty. He looks really healthy. When the older kitties are sick, you can tell in pictures.

(Didn’t read the whole thread because I’m rushing out the door but I will later!)

We did switch to puppy pads for our elderly cat. She did use them more than once, because we put them in a frame so she couldn’t bunch them up. Look for the kind of frame that raises and lowers with a hinge, not the kind that is in separate interlocking pieces.

We have some special needs cats and have found that using the 18 gallon Rubbermaid totes, without the lids, work great. We just cut a hole in the side or end, and the cat can walk right in. (We do leave about a 2" lip to help contain the litter.). The higher sides are handy if a cat needs to lean against something, and they help contain any litter that is kicked up.

Some people use the clear under-bed boxes for litter, so that may be a good option for you, too. Good luck!

Too bad you’re in Boston, as I found the bottom half of one of those in our basement behind the furnace last week. It’s headed for the trash bin, I’m afraid.

We have an elderly cat whose organs are failing, and has had mobility issues for a while, and another cat that’s also getting close to the end of her time with us with similar problems.

We found some basic Rubbermaid-type trays somewhere (probably Target) that are just a couple of inches deep that both cats can easily climb into and out of which we are now using as litter boxes. In front (and partly under) those, we placed these “litter catchers” (not sure of the exact name) from 3M. They are these sort of mesh mats that do a great job of keeping the litter from tracking all over. Underneath all of that we placed some giant boot trays (with less than a 1" lip) as added protection for the carpet.

We also strategically place wee-wee pads under the one cat’s favorite sleeping spots due to frequent accidents.

It all works out very well for our cats, and keeps down on the mess for us.