Cats may have different preferences about where their litter box is placed, what type of litter is being used, and if the litter box is covered or not. It is also important to monitor how often the litter box needs to be scooped or changed completely. This handout will help you determine litter box preferences that will be best for you and your new cat.

Location

While it may be tempting to hide a litter box out of sight to minimize odor or stray litter particles (i.e., in a basement), it is important to keep in mind what a desirable litter box location for your cat might look like. 

  • Litter boxes should allow for privacy but remain accessible. If the litter box is placed in a bathroom or closet, ensure that the door is wedged open enough from both sides to prevent your cat from getting trapped in or out.
  • Please keep away from loud appliances, so they are not startled and run from the noise. 
  • Some cats enjoy scratching at the ground upon exiting the litter box, so a cold, cement floor may be uncomfortable for them. You may want to place a mat in front of the litter box to help with scratching and reduce excess litter particles from spreading throughout the house. 
  • Suppose you have a kitten or an older cat, place litter boxes in a location where it is easily accessible at all times. They may not be able to reach the litter box in time if they have to travel up/down a long flight of stairs.
  • Once you have selected a location for the litter box and are bringing home a new cat, it can help pick your cat up and place them in the litter box, even if they immediately walk away, so your cat knows and remembers where the box is placed.

Covered Litter Boxes

There are pros and cons to using a covered litter box. It may be beneficial to offer both types at first to determine which is best for you and your cat. 

  • Pros
    • Privacy- cats who are timider may prefer a cover.
    • Covered litter boxes may be helpful if you have a dog and want to keep them out of the litter box.
  • Cons
    • It can be easy to forget to change the litter box frequently if it is “out of sight – out of mind.”
    • Your cat might feel crowded and not have enough space to position themselves comfortably.
    • Because a covered litter box traps odor inside, it needs to be cleaned more often.

Cleaning the Litter Box

Cleaning the litter box is essential for your cat’s health because you can monitor any changes, decrease the likelihood of defecating/urinating elsewhere, and keep your cat’s paws as clean as possible and encourage good hygiene. Litter boxes should be scooped of feces/urine daily. Depending on how many cats and how many litter boxes you have, most scoopable clay litter can be replaced entirely every 2-3 weeks.

However, if most of the litter is wet/clumped or has a strong odor, you should immediately replace it. If you are not using a plastic liner in your litter box, avoid using strong-smelling chemicals or cleaning products to wash the box. It can cause irritation to your cat’s respiratory system, skin and discourage them from using the box altogether. It would be best if you washed the box with soap and water instead.

 

Types of Litter

Most pet owners choose clay litter for their cats, but there are alternatives such as pine shavings, pine pellets, paper-based litter, corn, wheat, gel, etc. If you have followed the guidelines and your cat is still having trouble using the litter box, talk to your veterinarian about litter alternatives that may be better for your cat. 

Questions? Call the World of Animals Veterinary Hospital near you to speak to a team member.