Litter boxes are an essential need if you own indoor-only cats or cats with limited access to the outside. In fact, they are extremely useful to have even if your cat has free access outside, as they can help to prevent house soiling accidents (always good!). There are a myriad of different styles and sizes, litter types and tips, so read on for more information about how to choose the best cat litter box for you and your feline friend.
There are a few options when looking at litter trays, so let’s have a look at the basic types first.
Open litter trays have a rim (which comes in different heights) but no cover. These are the standard type of litter boxes and are usually happily accepted by most cats. Some cats even prefer them to covered trays which can make them feel vulnerable enclosed in a small space with only one exit.
A covered cat litter box has a removable lid, and some have a cat-flap entrance. They can be preferred by cats who like privacy to relieve themselves, and they also minimise the sight and odour of cat litter for their owners.
These are cat litter trays with a lid which can clear away soiled litter. Whilst in principle they sound fabulous, they can make odd noises and movements that can frighten cats and put them off using the tray.
Cats prefer a spacious tray that they can move around in. The ideal size is 1.5 times the length of the cat from nose to base of the tail, but larger is fine. This may mean if you have a cat on the longer side that you have to seek out an extra-large litter box! You can get specially designed trays, such as small boxes for kittens, and even triangular shaped trays to fit in those tricky corner areas.
Litter comes in a variety of materials: wood, paper, silica, corn and sand. Cats generally develop a strong preference for their usual litter, so try to stick to the same one. They also usually like a clumping litter, and the ideal depth is around 3cm. Types of litter have become more advanced in recent years, and some, such as Pretty Litter UK, will now even change colour depending on the health of your cat’s urine, such as the presence of blood.
Litter trays need regular cleaning and replenishing with fresh litter. Some common detergents can be an irritant, or even toxic to cats. Use a biological detergent and hot water. Check out the FirstVet cleaning section here.
As a general rule, you should provide at least as many litter boxes as cats you have, and preferably one extra. Cats like their privacy, and there can be tensions formed in multi-cat households if there is competition for tray space. Litter boxes should be placed in quiet household areas, well away from food and water bowls.