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Helping kitties adjust to a new home

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Q: We recently moved. Of course, we took our 6-year-old Siamese cat. We also took a cat who lived in our yard for seven years. We just couldn't leave her behind. We had her spayed and declawed. She adjusted to life inside with our Siamese, Simba. The problem is that Simba won't use the litter boxes. The two boxes are located in our extra shower. Can you help?

D. H., Cyberspace

A: You folks are heroes for taking along the outdoor cat. Simba may not feel the same way. Although, it's possible that Simba's thinking outside the box has more to do with the move than with your new cat, or that something is physically wrong. Certainly, see your veterinarian. Cat behavior consultant Pam Johnson-Bennett of Nashville, Tenn., says to find a way to separate the two litter boxes. Located side-by-side, it's like having one giant box rather than two.

Johnson-Bennett, the author of "Starting from Scratch: How to Correct Behavior Problems in Your Adult Cat,'' advises to pay careful attention to the relationship Simba has with your new cat. If there's some tension there, begin to reward friendly behavior you want to see.

Also, you can provide high places for the cats to go, such as a cat tree, or encourage your cat to use window ledges by placing toys or a blanket there. Another idea is to offer tunnels, either manufactured (available at pet stores and online) or homemade from paper bags. Plain old cardboard boxes are also good to provide the cats with their own spaces.

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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