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Some Truths About Living With Cats and Dogs

Because Saturday is recycling and garbage pickup day on my block, Friday is cleanup day in my animal house. The long list of chores that...

Julia Szabo  |  Mar 11th 2011


Because Saturday is recycling and garbage pickup day on my block, Friday is cleanup day in my animal house.

The long list of chores that need to get done – washing and scalding the food and water bowls, laundering the human and K9 bedding,decanting large bags of kibble into glass storage jars, shopping for items that recently ran out (especially cinammon) – can sometimes eat a big hole in my day. But my beloved pets are very well worth the extra efforts I make on their behalf.

Today also happens to be overhaul-the-cat-litter day. I love design, and have written numerous books and articles on this subject so dear to my heart, so I’m constantly moving things around, redecorating, and looking for stylish solutions to living with multiple pets. And as I clean and scald the loo accommodations for my clowder of kitties, I always get to thinking of ways I can improve the atmosphere in my felines’ quarters.

Wait a minute, you’re saying – this is a Dogster blog. Shouldn’t this topic be discussed on Catster? Perhaps. But a discussion about living with cats and dogs belongs here too. So I hope Dogsters who don’t love cats will indulge me while I discuss matters of importance to those of us who do.

Most of my dogs get along famously with their feline friends, and the cats stoically tolerate theirK9 compatriots.(Besides, I provide the catswith high shelves to escape to when the dogs’ energy becomes overwhelming.) So why do I separate the specieswhen I’m notaround to watch them? Because some of the dogs – thankfully not all – have an inappropriate food fetish: They think the cat litter boxes are treasure troves of, ahem,freecookies.

Especially Lazarus, who stuffed himself with so much litter at one point two years ago that I had to put him on a strict reducing diet so he could regain his boyish figure. I use World’s Best Cat Litter, which is made of corn, soLazzmtazz was basically supplementing his diet with high-calorie corn dogs!He started to resemble a porky piglet. (Laz finally melted away the pounds by dining on Stella & Chewy’s raw food, which really agrees with him.)

But dogs will be dogs, and even while you are looking they’ll try to stagesneak snack attackson the kitty litter box. As a kitty poop connoisseur, my beloved Sheba is especially guilty of this.

Happily, there are ways to prevent dogs from gaining access to the cat litter box – ways even design hounds like me can feel good about displaying at home. And one of them in particular happens to be so high-style, it resembles a designer item by the prestigiousItalian firm Kartell. It’s called ModKat.

ModKat is the first litter box to answer a cat’s need to jump up onto things. Its ingenious vertical design makes using the toilet a fun activity for Fluffy, and one that helps keep her in shape. That’s because ModKat also respects feline’s innate curiosity. It works like this: Kitty jumps onto the 15-inch-tall plastic cube, then curiosity compels her to enter a hole that leads down to the litter pan below. After she’s done her business, she emerges and exits through the top of the box.

The advantage of ModKat in dual-species households is that its ingeniousdesigndeters dogs from dining on the stuff Kitty leaves behind. Well, it deters small dogs anyway – my large K9s, if left unsupervised with ModKats,would stop at nothing, demolishing the boxes to get at what’s inside. So if you have cats and small dogs, by all means check outModKat, which is so good-looking that you don’t have todevise a hiding place for it- it’s a bona fide design object thatdeserves to beprominently displayed. Iteven comes in bright red,my favorite living-room accent color.

Do you have helpful tips for deterring dogs from dining on cat litter? Please share them in the comments!