So you’re in the market for a litter box and you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices and options, right? No problem, every first time cat owner (or even long time cat owner) runs into this problem because the types of litter boxes on the market keep changing. Who would have thought we’d have so many options out there for our cats to go pee and poop?!
The simple fact is that as we understand our feline friends in more depth, both from simple observation and from dedicated research, we start to get a handle on what works best for them. What works best may vary from cat to cat so we keep ending up with more and more options in the litter box arena.
So how do you choose the best cat litter box that is going to work for your particular situation? Let’s first understand some of the key things you should consider before making a section and then we’ll take a look at the major types of litter boxes on the market and help you choose.
#1 Your Cat’s Behavior
Cat behavior is the single biggest decider in which type of litter box you should be selecting. If you’ve already had your cat a while this should be relatively easy, if your cat is recently adopted you might have to figure things out as you go. The three key behavior traits to consider are:
- Litter Kicking: Probably the biggest decider in general. If your cat kicks litter all over the place then you’re going to want a high walled or a fully enclosed litter box.
- Startle Easily: If your cat gets startled easily by noises or movement then you may not want to choose a covered box, you might need something where your cat can see what’s going on around them while they use the litter box.
- Enclosed Spaces: Does your cat like hiding in enclosed spaces like boxes and such? If not, again, an enclosed litter box is probably not the ideal choice.
#2 Your Home Environment
There are two main concerns to keep in mind from a home environment standpoint.
- First and foremost is the amount of space you have available to place your litter box(es). If you have multiple cats and plenty of space the general rule of thumb is to use a litter box for each cat and an extra just in case. Most of us don’t have this luxury and honestly, a good portion of cats don’t seem to mind sharing a litter box.
- The other major factor is finding the right spot for your litter box. In general it is ideal if you can keep the litter box in an out of the way location. A quiet room is best, especially if you’re able to fit the litter box in a slightly enclosed area a closet with the door half open. You might have to do some measuring before purchase, but this will help your cats feel private and it also helps with litter tracking as well because you can arrange the area to trap litter more effectively.
#3 The Age of Your Cat(s)
Just like us humans older cats lose some of their mobility. Senior cats can sometimes have difficulty using certain styles of litter boxes because the sides can be too high for them. This is a silly reason for your cat to be having accidents or issues getting to the litter box, but it is a quite common reason that can go unrecognized.
Kittens are also known to have more litter box issues than adults, but in a different way than their elderly friends. Kittens typically love to play in the litter box and can often end up kicking and spreading litter all over the place, especially if you have a traditional litter box. This means aim for high sides or an enclosed space.
#4 Your Availability to Clean the Litter Box
Cleaning a litter box once a day is usually considered sufficient by most of our feline friends. While the general rule of thumb is to have a litter box for each cat some of us don’t have the space for this. I have two cats in my home and only use a single litter box without any issue, but it can get very full very quickly.
If you’re not constantly available to clean your litter box on a consistent basis or you have a cat that is simply extra picky then you might start running into litter box usage issues. Ensuring the litter box stays clean even when you’re not around can become a necessity to avoid the hassle of accidents.
#5 Your Willingness to Clean The Litter box
While it may not need to be said, I’m going to say it anyway. Nobody really likes scooping litter, at least not anyone I’ve ever met. The simple fact is that most people don’t enjoy scooping litter and consider it a necessary evil that comes with owning a feline.
On the bright side of things, if you truly despise scooping litter there are options out there that will do most of the work for you. They’ll even automatically store the litter in a sealed container so you don’t have to smell it either.
#6 The Type of Cat Litter
While the type of litter won’t impact most people’s decisions, it is worth noting that most automatic cat litter boxes require standard clumping clay litter. If you’re an environmentalist or you have a cat that simply won’t walk on clumping clay litter then you’ll likely need to choose an alternative litter box that you’ll have to scoop yourself.
#7 The Number of Cats In Your House
The number of cats in your house can have a heavy influence on whether or not your cats are going to use the litter box or not & whether or not it will stay clean for any extended period of time. The more cats you have the more litter boxes you should have.
The general rule of thumb is that if you have 2 cats you should have at minimum two litter boxes and those litter boxes should be in separate locations, at least at first. Cats can treat litter boxes as their own private territory so providing a separate box for each of your cats is a good way to start things out. You can always decrease the number of litter boxes later.
Types of Litter Boxes
As I mentioned above there are a ton of different types of litter boxes out there. Each of the above items will help drive which kind of litter box you should be most likely to choose. This is a quick run down of the most common types, but it is by no means a comprehensive list. Let’s take a look:
- Standard/Traditional: This is the most common type of litter box and you’ve definitely seen one around if you’ve ever been around a family with a cat. A traditional litter box is about 15″ x 20″ x 5″ (L/W/H). Traditional litter boxes have been around for ages for the simple reason that they get the job done, even if they leave a lot to be desired while they do it.
- Standard/Traditional w/ Entry Dip: This type of litter box only has one small difference compared to a regular traditional litter box, it has a small dip near the front of it for easier access for older or disabled cat. This can result in more litter being kicked out, but it is a pretty minimal issue if you were using a standard litter box before.
- Corner: This is going to be almost identical to your a traditional litter box in everything but shape. These are designed to fit in a corner very easily so they’re going to be more shaped like a triangle than a rectangle.
- Litter Trays: These are more often custom made than widely available, but you’ll sometimes see a litter tray used for a cat that is special needs or has difficulty climbing as they age. This ensures they can easily climb in and out of the tray to do their business.
- Disposable: Not surprisingly, this type of litter box is made to be thrown out after it has been used sufficiently. These are extremely cheap and are typically made of recycled paper. Most reports indicate they’ll last anywhere in the area of three to four months before they become saturated by scents.
- High Sided: High sided litter boxes were developed to help more effectively contain litter without making your cat feel trapped inside the litter box. They do a great job of this, unless your cat decides to kick litter toward the entry point.
- Top Entry: These are a rather novel approach at litter control and are ideal for cats that are younger in age as it does require your cat to jump in and out. The idea is that in the process of jumping out of the litter box the bulk of stuck litter will shake off of your cat. It also completely contains litter from being kicked out.
- Covered: A covered litter box is a traditional front entry litter box with a top that attaches to it. This is what I personally use for both of my cats and I’ve had great luck with it. It does an excellent job of limiting kicked litter and it also still forces my cats to do a bit of a jump out onto our litter mat on the way out to shake off most of the litter.
- Fully Automatic: Hate scooping? Join the club called everyone! Fully Automatic boxes take care of that for you by handing both the scooping and the bagging of the litter. Your job is simply to change the bags out when they get full. This can be very helpful if you’re not available to scoop on a consistent basis.
Wrapping it up on How to Choose the Best Cat Litter Box
As you can see there are a bunch of different items that factor into selecting the best litter box and a bunch of litter boxes to choose from too. The key thing I would keep in mind is that there’s no single best litter box out there. Every household is going to have different needs and you’ll want to choose what is right for you.
If you’re not yet familiar with the cat you are purchasing a litter box for (maybe you’re in the process of adopting or have just adopted) then I would suggest choosing a traditional litter box to start with. This is the most common and usually one of the most likely for a cat to use without any issues.
If you’re looking for more info on litter related topics you should also check out the following:
If you have any thoughts on other considerations while selecting a cat litter box then please leave a comment below or send me an email at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com so I can update this article or respond in kind.
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