How to Stop Cat Litter Tracking – A Comprehensive Guide

stop litter in its tracks

While not all cats use litter, the bulk of them certainly do.  It is usually the easiest way for us humans to provide a good place for the cats to relieve themselves. But litter can be a pain in the neck. Anyone who has picked up a couple 40+ pound bags of litter can relate.

The biggest hassle though, is litter tracking. You’re walking around on your nice clean floor and ugh…You now have litter stuck all over the bottom of your feet. Gross, and it can be really painful too. Or probably the worst, when you find a streak of something on your table or counter.

Let’s dig into how to stop cat litter tracking for good.


The Litter Box – Get The Right One

While litter ends up all over your house for multiple reasons, the biggest one is often the litter box itself. The biggest reason is just that the litter box doesn’t contain it when your cat decides to kick litter everywhere.

Most traditional litter boxes only have walls that stand 5 or 6 inches. This means when your kitty tries to bury their business they end up scattering litter all over. Once it is on the floor it will track it all over the place. You’ll want to consider a couple of options to help alleviate this problem:

  1. A high sided litter box – High sided boxes help minimize litter being kicked out. This is a rather simple upgrade, but there is a dip in the front of most high sided litter boxes that still leaves a gap for litter to get booted through. There are a wide variety of them to choose from and they can make a significant difference if your cat isn’t a big kicker.
  2. A fully enclosed litter box – A fully enclosed litter box uses a top that will help contain kicked litter to a higher degree as it also includes a flap or a door that will ensure even less litter sneaks out. If you do decide to get a box with a top I’d also be sure to get one where the top itself raises upward. This makes it significantly easier to scoop.
  3. A top entry litter box – I’ve never used one, but there are top entry litter boxes made by a few companies, the one I’ve seen reviewed the highest is from a company called CleverCat (and is much cheaper than the Modkat “brandname” version). The general idea is that since your cat needs to enter/exit through the top they are forced to jump up onto the roof of the box on the way out. This will shake off a good chunk of any littler stuck to your cat and also completely limit any litter from slipping out the sides.

Get a Litter Trapping Mat:

While a high sided box or a fully enclosed box is the first step, it typically won’t stop litter tracking completely. There are mats that are custom designed to trap litter as your cat exits the litter box. Here are comprehensive reviews of the most well known:

A good mat is imperative. It’ll do way more than any regular rug you can find because of the special design, they are also a heck of a lot easier to empty than your traditional rugs.


Consider the Litter:

That rhymes and you know it rhymes. But in all seriousness, litter itself comes in a bunch of different forms. Your standard clumping litter is the most likely type to stick to your cat and get tracked out of the box.

You might consider switching to another litter. If you do decide to make a switch be sure to read up on switching out your litter gradually. While some cats are fine with a quick switch, most aren’t too happy if you switch litters on them all of a sudden.

  1. Crystals – As opposed to clumping up, crystals essentially absorb urine and control odor for a period of time. While crystals have benefits, you do have to completely replace them quite often (weekly or every two weeks) depending on the number of cats you have. This can get quite a bit more expensive than traditional litter.
  2. Paper – Paper based litter is similar to crystals in that it is focused on absorbing urine and controlling the scent. It is normally easy to see which bits have been used based on color/size, but you can end up scooping out a lot of it that you don’t mean to since it doesn’t clump. This can get pricy longer term since you can end up wasting unused litter.
  3. Pine – Pine litters in general are an alternative to clay, but based on all of the information I’ve seen to date they have similar tracking problems. If odor control is a higher priority you might consider this.
  4. Go ‘Litterless’ – There are a few systems out there that don’t use any actual litter, but instead use things a combination of a water hookup from your toilet and ‘fake’ litter that then gets flushed away. The most common one is a CatGenie.

Trimming Paw Fur:

While this is probably a last resort, and should be handled by a professional unless you have a super relaxed cat, you can get the fur between your cats paw pads shortened up. With long haired cats especially, this can be one of the biggest reasons that litter gets stuck to their feet.  Shortening the hair up a bit can help keep the litter sticking to a minimum.


clean up the rogue litter

Clean Up the Rogue Cat Litter

All of these methods will inch you toward a tracking free household, but very likely you’ll still get a few little bits here and there outside the litter box.

If you’ve got wood or tile floors keep a broom and a dustpan nearby and sweep the area on a consistent basis.

If a broom won’t work consider a dust buster.  My wife and I have The Shark and it does a great job not only for litter, but also for cat hair as well. The more you confine the mess the less it’ll get out and about!


Changing the Game Completely

Now there is one other option available for those of you that wish transcend us mere mortals that still use litter on a daily basis. Cats, especially younger cats, can be trained to actually use the toilet. I have never even attempted this method, but you can find details on such methods in a couple of different places:

You really shouldn’t attempt this if your cat is older or if they might have any injuries because it can make it way too difficult for the cat to get up onto the toilet. This is also noted as a long and arduous process, so it isn’t for the faint of heart.  One last thing to keep in mind, in general cats don’t flush, so you might constantly be finding stuff in your toilet….


Wrapping it Up on How to Stop Cat Litter Tracking

  • The biggest reason cat litter gets everywhere is it gets out of the litter box, do your best to get a more enclosed space for your kitty to do their business
  • Get yourself a great specially designed litter mat that will trap and hold litter
  • Clean up the space around your litter box(es) on a daily basis
  • You can always consider training your cat to use the toilet if you want to avoid litter completely

If you have any other thoughts on how to stop cat litter tracking then please leave a comment below or send me an email at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com so I can update this article.

StuffCatsWant.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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10 thoughts on “How to Stop Cat Litter Tracking – A Comprehensive Guide

  • May 6, 2017 at 4:05 pm
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    Good job! This is one of the most complete articles I’ve ever read about cat litter. This is one of the excuses that my mom uses for not getting a cat but the solutions you present could help me to convince her. I would probably have to teach my cat to use the toilet and in the process teach it how to flush the toilet too. I mean how hard could it be to teach a cat to flush the toilet after you have taught it to use it which is something that most people would never imagine XD Would probably have to modify my toilet and add a string or something so that the cat can flush it. In any case, knowing my mom, she would probably want us to get an extra toilet for the cat.

    Reply
    • May 6, 2017 at 10:39 pm
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      Haha, I’d love to see that. A sign that says ‘Cats Only’ on the outside of their own special bathroom! Hilarious.

      Thanks for stopping by, and definitely point your mom this way if she has any questions.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2017 at 4:41 pm
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    This is great information on different methods to stop cat litter tracking. I love the part about teaching your cat to use the toilet. Ha ha! I don’t think any cats I know would really go for that… as soon as they are placed over a toilet bowl full of water they’d want to get out of there as soon as possible. Hilarious!

    In my experience, having an enclosed space that covers the litter box is the best option as the cats I’ve had always tend to kick the litter when they are done sending it flying out of the box. It’s also a good idea to clean up around the box as often as you can.

    Great article – very helpful for keeping the litter contained!

    Reply
    • May 6, 2017 at 10:36 pm
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      Thanks for sharing your experience! Every time I think of the toilet training it reminds of me of the movie Meet The Parents with Jinxy Cat haha. Seems quite complicated to go through this process, but who knows, maybe as a kitten it is worth it?

      Reply
  • May 21, 2017 at 11:27 am
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    Thanks so much for this very informative in-depth article. Maybe it’s just my cat but, despite having a high-sided litter box, my cat gets litter everywhere. He is a real digger. Sometimes I think he’s trying to dig to China! LOL

    All kidding aside, do you have any suggestions to stop the spread? Can you suggest a brand of litter that is less likely to spread?

    Reply
    • May 21, 2017 at 3:14 pm
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      Well, there are a couple of options you can try, but the mostly likely to help if you’re already using a high sided box is a fully enclosed litter box. They make them with lids and a moving door flap. That helps control litter the most if the problem is your cat kicking it all over the place while still inside. This is a good example:

      http://amzn.to/2r5NDs7

      Reply
  • July 13, 2017 at 5:19 pm
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    Great job Craig, really loved reading this post and the advice that you have shared.

    My cat flicks the litter over the side when finished doing his business in order to cover it. He is a messy cat I must say.

    The two options that struck me was the high sided box. That is definitely a good idea. And if that fails then the mats can also help.

    Reply
    • July 14, 2017 at 12:29 am
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      Good luck, I hope the high sided box really helps! I’ve personally had great luck with a covered box, but some cats don’t like them.

      Reply
  • July 14, 2017 at 6:41 pm
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    Hi Craig,

    Very nice post especially those who are just planning to have a new family cat at home. I agree with you that cats when they are still a baby they can be trained to use the toilet to litter. I knew it because I have a niece who had two cats and she have made them a toilet of just their own. She told me that they never had a problem cleaning up their mess…Happy fellow isn’t it?

    God bless for sharing…

    Reply
    • July 15, 2017 at 3:18 am
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      Wow, that’s awesome. I don’t know that I have the patience to even attempt to each my adult cats to use the toilet. Some people have a lot more goals related to their pets than I do! I am just happy if mine are happy :P.

      Reply

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