Teaching most cats to use a litter tray is fairly straightforward. Keeping the area around the litter tray neat and tidy is not. Particles of litter can get everywhere! A litter mat is designed to trap the litter in one place. Here’s a useful guide to the best cat litter mat.
Best Cat Litter Mat Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Consider When Buying Cat Litter Mat
Cat litter mats are a useful addition to any household that is lucky enough to have a kitty living with them.
However, there is a lot of choices out there and it is important that you pick a mat that suits your home. Here are the main things that you should consider before you rush off to buy a cat litter mat:
- How good is it at trapping litter? There is no point in having a litter mat if it cannot capture litter before it reaches the rest of your floor. All litter mats have some sort of method for doing this which is either based on grooves, mesh or holes.
- Will it trap all sorts of litter? There are numerous types of cat litter available these days. Some owners prefer clumping clay (bentonite), some like silica gel crystals or pine, whereas other prefer wheat or walnut shells. It is important to check that the mesh or holes in the mat will work with your preferred type of litter.
- Will your kitty tread on it? Cats are pretty fussy about what they like to walk on. If your kitty does not like the feel of the mat on their paws they will simply leap over it and spread litter on the floor surface beyond the mat! There is no point in having a mat if they are going to do that. If the mat feels uncomfortable on your palm when you press your hand onto it, there’s a good chance your kitty won’t like it either.
- Water resistance. Very few mats claim to be completely waterproof and there is really no need for them to be. However, it is a good thing if they have water resistance to stop ‘little accidents’ from reaching your floor surface. This is very useful if you have a hardwood or laminate floor. If your puss has a habit of urinating from time to time on the mat itself, some mats are manufactured to be urine-resistant and they would be the best cat litter mat for you.
- Can you move it? Some of the larger mats may be more difficult to move. It may seem like a good idea to fit two litter boxes on one mat but the larger mats can be unwieldy when you want to shake them off or hose them down. Would two smaller mats be more practical?
- Size of the mat. There are several sizes of mat available. It is important that you measure the space where you want the mat to fit so that it does not stick out into walkways where it could cause a trip hazard.
- How will you clean it? Loose litter can be cleaned off some mats using a vacuum. With others, you have to separate two layers to get at the trapped litter and it is easier to simply pour this into a refuse container. Mats that need to be shaken out are not much use to you if you live in a flat with no garden. Cleaning urine and poop off a mat is a bit trickier. For most mats, this can be hosed or scrubbed off with a mild detergent and then rinsed.
- Your kitty’s toilet habits. Whilst some cats can be relied upon to place their poop perfectly in the centre of the litter box on every occasion, others are not so successful. So, if your puss regularly leaves sticky poops on the mat, a plain silicone version that can be wiped down would be best the best cat litter mat for you. Some owners have found it hard (not to mention unpleasant) to try to scrub cat poop out of the fine mesh versions of a kitty litter mat.
- Safety aspects. Mats that skid across the floor is dangerous for both cats and humans so it is always wise to pick a non-slip option. Mats should be made of non-toxic materials and many are advertised as BPA and phthalate-free which is safer for your cat and for the environment.
- The mat must be strong enough to withstand being repeatedly picked up and cleaned. Your puss may also decide to use it as a scratch mat so it will need to withstand that as well.
- Colour and design. This is always a personal choice. Some mats come in up to eight colour options so you can pick one that suits your décor.
Benefits of Using Cat Litter Mat
- Why you need a cat litter mat?
There are many types of cat litter but the one thing that they have in common is that they are small particles and they can get all over the house! Litter gets flicked out of the tray when it is being used and gets stuck on the bottom of your kitty’s paws. When they head off to other parts of the house, they take the litter with them! This can mean that cat owners spend hours cleaning their homes instead of enjoying their cat’s company.
There are a few things that you can do to stop this from happening. The obvious option is to sweep it up but, as you may already know, this can turn into an almost continuous process. The next option is to use a cat litter box which is essentially a tray with three enclosed walls. This is a good way of preventing litter from being flicked out but will not stop litter getting stuck on your cat’s paws. The only way of preventing this is by using a kitty litter mat.
- Do you have to buy one?
Enterprising cat owners soon decided to solve this problem themselves using things that they had lying around the home. One choice was to use an old yoga mat. It’s made out of spongey material, it grips litter. Others used shelf liner which is designed to contain spills and crumbs. The vinyl sheet shelf-liners are good for protecting floors from stains whereas the rubbery, perforated shelf-liners are good for trapping litter from your cat’s paws. The problem is that you need the cat litter tray mat to do both!
Other cat Moms and Dads resorted to carpets. They used remnants or even mats and then shook them out a few times a week. Thicker piled carpets seemed to work best. A variation of this was the welcome mat/doormat which is designed to trap small particles of dirt to prevent them being tramped all over your house. However, they are prickly which is fine when you are wearing shoes but not so great when you have soft and sensitive paw pads!
- The best option
Homemade versions are not manufactured from pet-friendly materials and are not necessarily phthalate free. Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are added to plastic to make it flexible. However, there have been concerns about the harm that it can cause to both human and animal health as well as to the environment. The same is true for BPA (bisphenol A) which is another industrial chemical.
Another problem with all of these home-made options is that none of them fulfill all of the criteria that you need from a litter tray mat. Cleaning them is not easy and they may not be non-slip (especially carpets), they may not stand up to cat scratching without looking rough (yoga mats) and may irritate your kitty’s paws (welcome mats). Therefore, the only satisfactory option is to buy a specially designed cat litter tray mat.
The usual advice is that you need one litter tray for each of your cats and one extra. That means that you need the same number of mats. Many cat owners like to have litter trays and mats upstairs as well as downstairs.
Cat Litter Mat Maintenance
There are three general stages to cat litter mat maintenance:
- Removing loose cat litter
The first stage is removing the litter. In some mats, it will look obvious on the surface of the mat so you may want to remove it every day to keep the area looking neat. In other mats, it is less visible because it is trapped in deep holes or between two layers. However, it still needs to be regularly removed in case there are soiled/wet bits of cat litter that could become moldy or starts to smell.
The small mesh-type mats can be shaken outside but if you don’t have an outside area you could vacuum them using a nozzle hose attachment. Most owners find that it only takes a few swipes of the hose to remove the litter. Mats with dual layers can be cupped over and the litter poured into a refuse container. The same is true for silicone mats which may even have a spout cut into them.
- Cleaning the mat
Cat litter mats are not machine washable so this is one cleaning task that you will have to do by hand. Some owners have had good results by running them under a tap or cleaning with a hose. However, remember that they can be contaminated with poop and therefore could contain harmful bacteria so keep them away from kitchen sinks and food preparation areas.
For soiled mats, you can use warm water on some mats and a mild detergent. ‘Little accidents’ can be wiped off silicone mats using damp tissue paper.
- Drying the mat
Mats have to be air dried (preferably not in direct sunlight) before they can be put back into use. This prevents a build-up of mould and protects your floor surface.
Q: What is the purpose of the holes in the litter mat?
A: Many litter mats have holes in the top surface. Some holes are small and these mainly act as a trap for the litter. However, some have bigger holes and these serve a second purpose. They actually spread open the pads on your kitty’s feet encourage the litter to fall out of the small crevices between the racks. The litter then gets trapped in the holes.
Q: Is a cat litter mat safe for my cat?
A: Great efforts have been made to ensure that cat litter mats are safe. Most mats are phthalate and BPA free so they are non-toxic. They are also made from non-slip material so it will not skid across the floor even if your cat leaps onto it.
Q: How do I shake off the sand that accumulates on it?
A: This depends on what type of mat you have. With the mesh-type mats and silicone mats, it is simply a matter of shaking them out somewhere convenient. The mats with two layers require you to separate the layers and pour litter into a refuse container.
Q: Is a cat litter mat immune to cat scratching?
A: Nothing in your home is immune to cat scratching! Scratching is a normal, instinctive behaviour for cats. They scratch to remove dead outer layers from their claws, to mark territory and to flex their feet and claws whilst stretching their bodies. Many mats are scratch proof and will be able to withstand the attentions of your kitty’s claws.
Q: How should I place my cat litter mat?
A: The main job of a litter is to catch litter as your puss exits the litter tray and walks away. Therefore, position it under the tray and on their exit route so they have to walk all four paws across it. This may take some trial and error at first.
Our Top Pick
Gorilla Grip Original Premium Durable Cat Litter Mat
The Gorilla Grip mat is a good-sized, durable mat made with a series of grooves and tight mesh to trap litter. The slip-resistant backing keeps it still and it does not irritate cat’s paws. It is safe (100 per cent phthalate-free) and easy to clean by simply shaking it off (or vacuuming) and rinsing. You get to choose from seven attractive colours.
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