Litter Box Dos and Don'ts
Updated: May 30
Pet product manufacturers are constantly releasing new and improved litter boxes that make the chore of scooping our cats’ “business” that much easier. From pricey Litter Robots to dollar store accessories, there is something for every budget in the litter box space. But, how many product designers are thinking about what the cat wants in terms of litter boxes, litter type, etc.? As it turns out, not many. For this reason, we’d like to take this opportunity to share our litter box dos and don’ts.
What a Cat Wants from His Litter Box
Cats are both predators and prey. For this reason, they are highly vulnerable when eliminating in the wild. Even homebody cats recognize this vulnerability and instinctively want to feel safe while doing their business. For this reason, a cat will always choose a litter box that is adequately placed and allows enough visibility and safety. They also hide their business to prevent them from being tracked, which means that they need to cover their urine and feces to feel at ease. The potty ritual of a cat is very precise because it’s meant to ensure their survival.
Litter Box Quantity
It is recommended that cat-friendly households have one litter box per resident cat plus an additional box, as a safeguard in case one of the litter boxes is unpleasant or unable to be used. This means that a two-cat household would have three litter boxes, a three-cat household would have four, and so on. The number of boxes is integral, especially when a cat is in a new environment. The more approved places a cat is given to safely eliminate, the more content he will be,
Litter Box Size & Style
Litter boxes come in a variety of sizes and styles. There are covered boxes, plain open boxes, and self-cleaning boxes. If you ask a cat, however, he will tell you that he’d like a fully open box that is regularly cleaned. Open litter boxes give cats a 360º view of their surroundings while in the box. Visibility equals safety, therefore, if your cat is anxious or skittish in and around his litter boxes, remove the cover and see what happens.
Briony Baugh Scott, Founder of The Brys Cat Behaviorist in The Woodlands, TX, often says that cat parents think of litter boxes solely from our perspective. In practice, however, Baugh Scott believes that what we like is usually a cat’s least favorite option. She recommends cat guardians purchase standard open litter boxes that keep our cats at ease while using them. Doing so will ensure that the cat eliminates where we deem appropriate, even if it isn’t our ideal covered or automatic box.
Litter Box Scooping
One of the most important factors in litter box upkeep is the frequency with which the boxes are scooped. We recommend that cat parents make it a habit to scoop every litter box in the home at least twice per day. Scooping litter boxes twice daily will prevent extensive cleaning and messes. Clean litter boxes usually also prevent cats from peeing or pooping outside the box. Cats are intrinsically clean animals and will refuse to use a messy litter box and may use your rug, or worse, your bed, instead.
Litter for Litter Boxes
One of the hardest things to find is a litter that works for everyone in the home, especially in multi-cat households. Our recommendation is to do some research on what products are best and try small bags until you find your favorite, one that your cat deems appropriate as well. For more on litter type, the quantity of litter, etc. we recommend you read this post by Rita Reimers, cat expert and co-host of 19 Cats and Counting.
Cat Sitters & Litter Boxes
One of our specialties at Hearts at Home Pet Sitting is making sure that litter boxes look and remain their very best while cats are in our care. Our team is trained to properly scoop and address messes, ensuring that cats remain happy and their families come home to clean litter box areas. To learn more about our team, email us at Hello@HeartsAtHomePetSitting.com or call 757-745-9868 with questions. We look forward to sharing our love of professional pet sitting with you and your pets.