Frayne, J., MacDonald Murray, S., Croney, C. et al. 2019. The behavioural effects of innovative litter developed to attract cats. Animals 9(9), 683.
Urination and/or defecation outside a designated location has been reported as the most common behavioural reason for surrendering a cat and comprises approximately 30% of cat intakes to shelters. The objective of this study was to determine whether cats would increase in-box elimination when provided a plant-based litter product with attractant (ATTRACT) compared to the same plant-based litter product without attractant (PLANT). Sixteen cats were split into two equal cohorts based on availability from the shelter and group-housed in an enriched room with eight identical litter boxes arranged in a circular pattern equidistant from each other. Following a two-week room acclimation and transition period from clay litter to PLANT litter, boxes were designated either PLANT or ATTRACT litter, balancing for cats’ prior box location preferences. For 14 days following litter allocation, cat behaviours such as sniffing, digging, covering, urinating, and defecating were video recorded for 12 h daily. The cats urinated more often in the ATTRACT litter, suggesting that they preferred the ATTRACT litter for urination more than the PLANT litter (p < 0.05). The most significant differences observed were between genders, with males spending significantly more time sniffing and performing urination behaviours (p < 0.05). These results suggest that litter with an attractant may be more effective in eliciting usage for urination, as compared to a litter without the additive.