The 20 Year Old Senior Cat and His Litter Box Woes



Let me start by shouting a bit HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY TO NILES! even though he won’t hear it. The old boy has officially made it to 20 years of life and is still trucking along. He’s slower, needs more frequent oil changes, his radio doesn’t work, and he has a little rust, but he’s still a totally drivable little truck.

On that note, I wanted to talk about his litter issues. For the last year, I’ve been noticing him choosing new and exciting places to pee – the front hall rug, in front of the TV, adjacent to the litter box, in the doggie’s bed. I thought perhaps he’d just given up caring, but I knew that as a fastidious gentleman, there was clearly something else going on, so I looked a little deeper. While I was looking, I surreptitiously slipped some Pee Pads under the rugs and in his favorite spots so as not to embarrass him.

First, I noticed he had a limp. I thought we were going to have to go to the vet until I checked his paws and realized he had a bunch of clumping litter stuck between his toes making it too difficult and painful to walk. After a brief foot bath in a small dish and a lot of screaming and yelling from both of us, his toes were clean and he could walk again. This necessitated a switch of litters to a gentler formula and we went with Shwheat Scoop. It works great for him, though I’m not too happy with the fact that my house frequently smells like litter box – there’s nothing in it, so there’s no smell control. Natural, yes. Fragrant, yes. Pleasant, not so much, but we’ll deal with it for Niles.

Next, I watched him use the box. He turned and spun and squatted, then bumped the sides. He tried again, and turned, and got his head all covered in dust. Then he tried another box and another box, then went back to the first box, then gave up and went back to bed. I realized that the arthritis in his hips was making it difficult to squat. It’s hard to find a large enough litter pan for a cat with these issues, so I went upstairs into my storage and pulled everything out of the under the bed storage container, filled it with Shwheat Scoop, and he was back in business, or doing his business, as it were.

As of late, there have been no new whizzing adventures and he’s faithfully using his storage box. My attic needs a cleaning now, but I’d prefer that instead of the surprise whiz puddles I’ve been stumbling into.

So, for those only scanning, my TIPS FOR A SENIOR CAT’S LITTER BOX ISSUES are:

  • Mind your litter type. Clay litters can get caught in between their toes, especially if they’re accidentally peeing on their own feet, and that can be painful and upsetting. Use something gentle.
  • Have a large enough box that squatting wide isn’t an issue. Use an under bed storage tote or look for one of those dog litter boxes (yup, that’s a thing) with the large surface area and low entry way
  • Keep the box in a place that’s easily accessible. Don’t make him go upstairs, downstairs, or too far away.
  • Pee Pads will become your new friend
Here we have the new litter tote next to the high-sided box that Pinkle requires. Note the pee pads taped to the wall because now Pinkle enjoys the freedom of the tote but can’t seem to color within the lines, so to speak.

And with that, I wish my fabulous senior kitty Niles Chesterfield a happy, happy 20th birthday. He’s been around just about half my life now, and I look forward to having him here for as long as he wishes to stay.



Niles stealth-chillin’ in his little flip out, soft foam bed. I had to put the towel there just to be able to spot him.

**FTC DISCLOSURE: This post was not paid for nor is it an ad. All products mentioned here are things I purchased on my own and all opinions are my own. No reviews were requested from any of the products mentioned. **

Trash Cats and Dumpster Dogs: An Overseas TNR Initiative With Shawn Simons (And A Raffle Fundraiser)

You guys,

Today, I have a very special guest named Shawn Simons. Many of you know her as the former Headmistress of Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats in Los Angeles. She is now off in a seaside town called Saranda, Albania, learning to speak Shqip (yup, that’s what it’s called) and opening her heart to overseas cats and dogs who have no aid, no healthcare, and no homes. Her effort is called Trash Cats and Dumpster Dogs International Spay Neuter Initiative.

“Ah. A dead fish. I shall make it deader.” – Saranda Cat.

Albania doesn’t have many veterinarians, and the country isn’t very open to spay/neuter efforts in companion animals, let alone with street animals. Shawn’s program aims to help train local vets and provide these services to the animals who most need them. How did she get this started? One step at a time.

  1. Data Collection. Shawn’s volunteers separated into teams and divided the area into 6 quadrants. They took notes and photos of all the cats they encountered to get a good idea of the number of animals needing the services. They then added 40% to the number of visible cats and 20% to the dogs since dogs are less prone to hiding. They have currently identified 147 cats and 123 dogs needing services based on this method.
  2. Identify obstacles and factors in the size of the population. They identified which categories of animal such a roaming owned, roaming semi-owned, or roaming un-owned is creating the largest influx of cats. They also looked at obstacles like religion and social factors. Due to its previous communist regime, Albanian residents look more towards feeding people before feeding strays so the idea of caring for unowned animals can be a challenging subject to broach.
  3. Education. Shawn is focusing on educating the population. Cat owners need to understand the concept of sterilization and what resources are available to them. She’s also trying to provide animal welfare education to local schools to help influence future generations.
  4. Resources. Although money is one thing, manpower and government support are still necessary. Since Saranda has relatively few vets, and those that they do have are trained in farm animals, the initiative will focus on bringing in vets from around the world to help provide the spay/neuter services.

With these steps completed, the organization is meeting with the local government to create relationships and next steps. They plan to provide free medical assessments and sterilization to owned cats starting in the fall and will start trapping efforts later in the year.

If Shawn hasn’t already proven that she’s amazing with her past efforts (she has), she’s really impressing with this one. Taking a look at the steps above, though, we know that she still needs resources. Do you want to help? Think you’re too far? Think again! She’s hosting a raffle that you can win from anywhere. The prize? 7 fab days in the seaside Saranda Grand Hotel so you can get up in the action yourself. Each entry is $1, and they get cheaper if you buy more. Fancy, we know.

He looks happy. In reality, he’s really hoping someone will neuter him and make his life even better.

Uncertain about the location? Shawn says: Saranda is the gateway to the Albania Riviera and there you can find beaches that mimic Greece and the Caribbean. You have it all: beautiful beaches, fresh healthy food, friendly people, and a lot of homeless kittens!

ENTER HERE to help support Trash Cats and Dumpster Dogs Spay Neuter Initiative.

Any questions for Shawn on her ambitious and already-impressive TNR efforts? Comment below and we’ll make sure she sees them.



**FTC Disclosure: No payment was taken for this post and this blog has no stake in this raffle. It’s all for the cats and dogs of Sarande. **

UPDATED: Delia is Safe But Could I Do More and 30 Cats Rescued from Oklahoma

Well, I posted this morning about a doggie that I wanted to help. I spent most of my weekend trying to figure out how to help her and decided that, if I couldn’t find a rescue who would take her, I’d step up and foster her myself, with my tenant, as a household.

Then I got an email this morning stating she was safe; a rescue is taking her, and asking me to take down the blog post. So I have. But it gets me to thinking: how many of us put our money where our mouths are, so to speak? How many people love animals but don’t want to inconvenience their lives in order to save them? I know most readers of this blog do just that; you put them before yourself. I guess I do, too, every day.

And I hope that more people begin to do that. I guess not even just for fostering, but for life in general. What would be better for animals, the world, the environment, even our own health if we made more efforts to do the things that are right?

I guess I’m just thinking out loud right now. I’m glad Delia is safe. And through this, I learned something about myself.

And since you came here to read something, I’ll refer you to this:

That’s what I had the privilege to do last week. Have I mentioned I love my new job?