A good quality litter box is a must for any cat owner, but particularly those who have exclusively indoor cats. Purchasing a poor-quality litter tray can lead to litter being traipsed through your house, smells emanating from the box every time it is used, and difficult and messy clean up times. To help with your decision, our panel of pet experts and cat lovers have put together a list of the best litter boxes for cats, including those suitable for homes with multiple cats, and those with limited space.
Best Litter Boxes For Cats Buying Guide
Different homes have different needs when it comes to cat litter boxes. If you are in a small apartment with a single cat, your needs will be vastly different to a larger home with multiple cats. The type of litter box you opt for may also depend on your cleaning routine, the type of litter you prefer or that your cat will use, and your cat’s own toileting routine. In this part of the guide we explore these and other elements that may affect your choice of litter box for your cat.
Importance of a Litter Box
Just like you, your cat needs somewhere safe, reliable and relatively comfortable to go to the toilet. If they don’t have anywhere provided for them, then they are likely to find or create their own toilet area within your home, and this may not be in an area that you would choose for them to go. A litter box is the ideal toileting solution because it provides a space that is specifically for your cat, and more specifically for your cat to use as a toilet. Even if your cat goes outside, you should still provide them with a litter tray in the house. This means that they still have somewhere to go if they do not want to go outside, do not feel safe enough to toilet outside, if the weather is inclement, or they are recovering from illness or injury.
Things to Consider When Buying a Litter Box
Whether you are purchasing a replacement litter box, or a new one for a new cat, there are numerous things you need to consider before you make your final purchase. If you are replacing your existing one, then take some time to consider what you, and your cat, liked about the litter box, and what if anything you would like to change. This helps you get a better picture of the type of box that is more suited to your home and your cat’s needs.
If you are a first-time cat owner, then it is essential that you have your litter box in place before you bring your cat home. This ensures that your cat knows where they are expected to go to the toilet and saves you from trying to retain them out of bad habits. Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind when purchasing your litter box.
Litter boxes come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. It is important to consider where you are going to place the litter box and how much space you have to accommodate it. Most experts suggest that even if you only have one cat, you have more than one litter box to ensure that your cat always has somewhere clean to go, regardless of where they are in the home. Given this its essential to consider where the second box will go, and the amount of space you have for that as well.
- Number of Cats
There are several schools of thought when it comes to the number of litter boxes you need when you have multiple cats. While some suggest that you should have no more than two cats per litter box, others believe that you need one box per cat. Others suggest that you should have one per cat, plus an additional litter box to ensure there is always one clean space for your cats to go. Regardless of the number of litter trays you decide on, it is always advisable to go for larger litter trays if you have multiple cats. Small litter boxes will get dirty too quickly and increase the chances of litter being spread across the house.
- Size of Cat
It is important that your cat can easily get in and out of their litter box. If you have a small kitten, then a very deep box may be tricky for them to reach, increasing the risk of accidents. If you have a large cat however, and the box is too small, they may feel crowded and uncomfortable and look for alternative places to complete their toilet activities.
Keeping your cat’s litter box clean is essential if you are going to encourage your cat to use it and nowhere else in your house as a toilet. Some litter boxes include a sifting tray that the litter is poured through, leaving behind the cat mess. To use this type of cleaning system, you need clumping litter that sticks together when used. Alternative systems include a scoop for removing solid waste. Some litter trays include a spout or bag hook to make pouring out used litter easier and tidier when it comes to changing the litter in the box. For ease of use, you may wish to read our review of the best self cleaning litter box.
Covered vs. Uncovered Boxes
While traditional litter boxes are little more than high sided plastic trays, newer designs include lids or covers. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of litter trays and the type you choose will depend as much on your cat’s preference as the space you have, and where you intend to place the litter box.
An uncovered box provides the easiest access for your cat, and often the easiest cleaning access as well. Its open design means that you can monitor your cat’s toileting habits without needing to be right on top of them. The main drawback of uncovered boxes is that everyone can see what you cat is doing, and if the litter box is in the main room of the house, this might put your cat off using it. Smells are another potential issue with uncovered boxes. However, most trays are now made with antimicrobial plastic to help reduce odors.
Covered boxes are great for providing privacy for your cat, meaning you have a wider choice of where you can place the litter tray. Many have inbuilt filters to reduce smells even further. Covered boxes help keep the litter in the tray and stop other animals from exploring the tray and spreading mess. However, covered trays can feel cramped and your cat may feel uneasy not being able to scan their surroundings while they are at a vulnerable time. It is important that if you purchase a covered litter box you get one that provides your cat with plenty of space, easy access, and that they feel comfortable sitting in. One answer is to choose one with either a large open entrance or a see-through cover, so your cat can see their surroundings.
How to Clean a Litter Box
Cats have an amazing sense of smell, it is many times more sensitive than that of human’s. Cats are also extremely clean animals, so coupled with their sense of smell, you can begin to understand why they refuse to use a litter box that is less than clean.
- Removal of Solid Waste
The first step in cleaning your cat’s litter box is removing solid waste. This should be done at least once a day. This can be done with a special scoop or using a sifting tray. It is important that you minimize contact with cat feces by wearing gloves and not touching it directly. Particular care should be taken when pregnant.
Place the bin or rubbish bag close to the litter tray to reduce the risk of litter falling through the scoop or sifting pan onto the floor. It also reduces the risk of falling waste, which would be less than pleasant to pick up a second time. If you are using a clumping litter, then remove the clumps with the fecal matter each day.
Lastly top up the litter to ensure a healthy covering across the base of the pan. If you allow the level of litter to fall to far, you will notice an increase in odor as the urine is not fully soaked up by the litter.
- Full Cleaning
While waste should be removed on a daily basis, this is not enough on its own to keep your cat’s litter box smelling fresh and free from bacteria. To achieve this, you need to give it a full clean roughly once a week. If you have multiple cats using the same box, then you may find you need to do a full clean twice a week. O fully clean you cat’s litter tray you should:
- Empty out the old litter completely.
- Wash out the litter box using warm water and a mild detergent that doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals
- Rinse the litter tray fully to ensure no residue is left behind.
- Dry the tray fully to stop new litter sticking to it.
- Add a thin layer of baking soda – this is optional, but it can help to reduce odors, particularly in older style cat litter boxes that do not contain filters.
- Add clean litter to the tray, ensuring you get the balance right between too much and not enough.
- Place the litter box back in its usual place and wait for your cat to make their mark in it once again.
By following our buying guide and the tips from our experts, you can be assured that you will make the right purchase for your cat.