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Making sense of the litter box

Knowing what type and how many litter boxes makes for happy felines.

Not all litter boxes are created equal. Did you think that just any litter box would do? Cats prefer certain types of boxes over others, and personality as well as home environment also plays a role in the box your cat would prefer.

A few key things about litter box use and placement:

Never put the box right next to their food and water supply. Would you eat in your bathroom?

Cats have a very sensitive nose, so if you think it stinks, imagine what it’s like for your cat. Keep it clean. 

Don’t put the box in a hallway or other high traffic area, or someplace drafty; they like their privacy just like you do.

Also try to keep it away from any dogs that are in the house, no cat likes to be interrupted by your pooch, or have their litter box smelling like dog.

Have one litter box per cat and/or one per 1000 square feet of home. Place them around the house, not clumped together. Especially as your cat gets older, it won’t enjoy having to trek across the house to use the box.

Covered boxes

These are the usually one-size-fits-all of cat boxes. They provide privacy for your cat, less litter scatter for you to clean up and superior odor control. If you already use a non covered box, you can buy hoods or tent contraptions that fit over your existing box, but can sometimes cost more than just buying a covered box. The best standard models of these have a front section that easily lifts up or swings out so you can scoop it out without having to remove the entire hood.

Other covered boxes fall under the “self-cleaning” category; they roll over onto their lid and back and the waste gets collected in a tray that you can pull out and discard easily. These require the room to roll them over easily, so you need a larger space dedicated to it. They also have a tendency to create dust from the litter being disturbed, so you should only buy these if you use a very low dust litter.

Automatic (electric) boxes

This is the most expensive piece of equipment/furniture you could spend on the average cat besides those outrageously priced cat trees; however, they can be very convenient for the owner that only wants to spend a couple minutes scooping their box.

These models have a motion sensor detecting when a cat has used the box and employs a delay to scoop it out usually 10 or so minutes after your cat has left. The motor sends a rake across the box that scoops the waste and pushes it into a receptacle. These receptacles can get too full if you do not empty them regularly! When it gets too full, the waste will slide back into the box and the motor will be working extra hard to try and push it into the receptacle. It doesn’t know that it’s full, that the owner is being lazy. This can seriously damage or break the motor on your box and you’ll be out about 100 dollars or more.

With these, you don’t necessarily need to use the specific brand litter that the box is. In general, you can use any premium clumping litter of your choice, and it’s usually half the cost or even less!

These usually have quite a large footprint. They require some space, like an extra bathroom that rarely gets used. Most of them are open pans; however you can usually buy a hood piece of the same brand that snaps right onto it for your kitty’s comfort.

Open boxes/pans

These are the cheapest way to go. In general, you should only use these if there is a whole room or closet dedicated to your cat for this purpose. Many cats don’t care for open pans like this; they feel exposed and sometimes threatened, depending on their other surroundings.

If you must use one, try and find a corner that is blocked on three sides to place it in. A closet that is always open is another good place, though you may not want to hang clothes or store anything in there with it; your stuff could gradually get the smell ingrained in it. 

There are “self-cleaning” designs of open pans. The design usually incorporates a pan plus a pan liner that is slotted like a scooper to sift out the waste and leave the good litter behind. They generally don’t work very well. If you have a shallow level of litter, the sifter gets waste stuck to it and is rather inconvenient to clean up. As well as it is fairly difficult to push the sifter back under the litter once you have pulled it up to “scoop” the box. Looks like a great idea on paper, not so great in practice.

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View NYGirl' profile

NYGirl Very informative. Thank you!

Posted 3179 days ago...