It’s well known that cats are fastidiously clean and litter box hygiene is incredibly important. It is understandable why cat breeders might look into various options when it comes to litter and litter boxes. Often it’s a discussion centred around convenience. “What do you think of this type of litter?’, and “it’s said that we only need to change it once a week or once a month” are some of the common questions and talking points that get raised.
Preventing diarrhoea in kittens: sanitation-wise, focus on the litter box.
To help prevent diarrhoea in kittens, your main focus regarding sanitation should be the litter box. Many of the pathogens that cause diarrhoea in catteries are found inside the digestive tract, which means they are excreted via the faeces, and subsequently can act as a source of contamination. Many cats can be shedding the pathogen, yet display minimal or no clinical signs.
Pathogens such as Giardia and Coccidia form highly resistant, environmentally stable cysts that can act as a source of ongoing contamination of a cattery, and infection of kittens.
Litterbox Hygiene - It’s a daily job
Removing solid waste daily IS NOT ENOUGH in the cattery environment- you need to get rid of the entire litter! Even if you remove all stools, yet keep the litter, residual pathogens may persist, and infections can (re)occur.
Fully clean the litter box DAILY using a disinfectant at the recommended concentration. Be careful in your selection of a disinfectant, as some can be toxic to cats, and strong-smelling disinfectants may also leave residual odours, which can cause litter box aversion.
#1 Have the right number of litter boxes (roughly 1 litter box for 3 kittens).
#2 Have extra litter boxes so that when you need to clean/disinfect a litter box, you can simply replace it with a clean one.
#3 Protozoa are often the cause of kitten diarrhoea. Steam cleaning litter boxes is a great hygiene method to destroy their environmentally resistant cysts. This should be done daily.
#4 Completely replace your litter boxes every few months. Many of the plastics used retain odours, which can cause litter box aversion.
Implementing and maintaining strict litter box hygiene measures may seem like an onerous task at times, but remember, litter box hygiene is the cornerstone of protecting your cattery. You can’t be complacent with it!