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Helping Your Cat Overcome His Fear of the Automatic Litter Box

Let's face it--no one looks forward to cleaning the litter box. It's no wonder that a self-cleaning litter box appeals to many cat owners. Unfortunately, such a device may not appeal to the cat.

In fact, some cats become frightened of the automated action of a self-cleaning box and may go on a "potty strike," avoiding the box altogether. If you're facing such a situation, there are steps you can take to encourage your cat to overcome her fears and use the automated box faithfully.

First, place a simple litter pan next to the automated box, and fill it with litter. Remove the litter from the automated box but leave it in the same area as the simple pan. The idea is to encourage the cat to use the litter box appropriately while getting used to the automated box's presence. By placing it next to the simple litter box, you allow your cat to investigate the automated box on his own terms.

When you notice that your cat is consistently using the simple box and does not seem troubled by the presence of the self-cleaning box, try running the automated box a few times each day--but not when your cat is using the simple pan. You want your cat to become accustomed to the sound and motion of the self-cleaning function.

Now it's time to add litter back into the automated box--but be sure to turn off the self-cleaning function at first. Because your cat has shown some fear toward the automated box, you don't want to startle him again with the function of the box.

Once your cat has used the automated box a few times, turn the self-cleaning function back on. Leave litter in the basic pan and keep it next to the automated box as you transition your cat back to the self-cleaning litter box.

During this transition time, be sure to praise your cat every time he uses the automated box. You want him to associate using the new box with pleasant experiences. Keep the simple pan next to the automated box for some time; if you remove it too early, your cat may simply opt to use the floor instead of the automated box.

Some cats may simply refuse to use the automated box when a simpler option is available. If this is the case with your cat, stop cleaning the simple box. Almost all cats will choose a clean option over a dirty one, and this may encourage your cat to use the self-cleaning litter box. Again, reward your cat with plenty of praise each time he uses the self-cleaning box.

After your cat has successfully used the automated litter box for several weeks, remove the simple pan. Keep in mind that the cat may not be ready, and may opt to use the floor instead. If so, do not yell at him, as this may reinforce his initial fear of the automated box. Simply bring back the basic litter box, and begin the transition process again.

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