What’s in the Box?
Your Guide to a Happy Cat’s Litter Box
So how important is the litter box? Probably the most important thing when it comes to a happy cat/human relationship!
Usually, kittens and cats use litter boxes instinctually, but the proper training and introduction of a litter box is key to preventing accidents, now and in the future!
Many factors can lead to your cat not using the box, causing stress and anxiety for you and your kitty. The first thing to do in your training is to show your feline friend their new litter box. Cats do not like change, so a consistent place for their litter boxes is a important. If you decide to reorganize in the future, give your cat the 411 and make sure you reintroduce them to the new litter box location.
If your cat is extra sensitive to change, slowly moving the box to its new location can help them slowly adjust without stressing them out, which can sometimes cause those accidents to happen.
How many litter boxes do I need?
Cats like to have a clean space to do their business and they like to have options! You should have one litter box for every cat, plus one extra. So if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes and if you have two cats, you should have three. Also, if you have levels in your home, you should make sure that each level has an accessible litter box, especially if your kitty is older.
Where should I put the litter boxes?
When picking a location for your litter boxes, there are a few things to consider. Cats like their privacy when using the loo, just like us! Try to find a quiet corner that is familiar to your cat. If there is a place in your home that your cat or kitten rarely visits, it is not going to be a good place for a litter box. A quiet area is important so that they feel safe and secure while using their bathrooms. Cats are vulnerable when they use their boxes so if they are placed somewhere that they deem unsafe, they will find a new location to do their business. You will also want to spread the litter boxes throughout your space. If litter boxes are placed too close together your cats may see them as one single litter area. Not all cats like to share their boxes, so this can lead to a variety of issues.
What type of litter should I get?
Every cat has different sensitivities and preferences so sometimes picking the right litter for your cat can be tricky. There are different types of consistencies of litter, made from different materials. Your cat may not like the texture of all of these on their feet and forgo the box so be observant of their reactions to different litters.
One of the most popular litters is made of clay material. This clumping litter for solids and liquids makes for easy cleanup. However, clay can be very dusty and has environmental repercussions. Clay litter requires mining and excavation which can cause deforestation, erosion, habitat loss, and many other ecological problems. It also can stick to paws and track through the
house, leaving prints. Clay is not good for ingestion, so if you have a cat that eats litter/ waste or a kitten, it is not the best option.
Another type of litter is crystal litter, made up of silica gel. While this type of litter is dust free, it is usually more expensive than its clay competitor. This litter works by absorbing urine and dehydrating waste, trapping harsh odors. The high absorbency of the silica allows for reabsorption after urine evaporates and can be used for up to a month. Not all cats like the way crystals feel on their paws, so keep this in mind. Silica, however, is mined from quartz and is not an environmentally friendly alternative to clay.
Wheat and corn litters are an eco-friendly alternative to their mineral counterparts above. Both these materials are natural and edible, so they are not harmful if ingested. However, be careful because this could encourage litter-eating, especially if there are dogs in your home. The great thing about these litters is that they are toilet safe and flushable for easy cleanup, just make sure to double-check your brand and read flushing instructions. Both of these materials break down odors naturally and clump for easy disposal.
For more natural litter, paper is a choice that is extremely affordable. Paper is softer and does not contain any chemicals that clay and crystal litter may have. It can be processed or made from recycled paper and is biodegradable. This type of litter, however, does not clump and requires more replacing than other litters. Paper, although highly absorbent, does not track odor like other materials.
Last on our list is pine litter, another environmentally friendly option. It is low dust and allergy friendly, not being made with soy, corn, or wheat. This litter clumps from the bottom, differently than clay, and reduces odors from solids and liquids with its absorbency powers. You can get pine litter in a soft, shaved texture or pellet form.
If you want to try and switch litter types, make sure to get an extra cat box specifically for the new litter. This way, if they do not like it they will have their comfort litter to revert to instead of your fresh pile of laundry. Make sure to note how often they use it and which cats use it if you have more than one. After about a month, you can transition them further by putting half of your old litter and half of your new litter into the box. Keep gradually increasing the ratio of the litter until they are 100% acclimated.
What kind of litter box do I get?
The size of your box needs to be at least as long as your cat from the tip of their nose to the tip of their extended tail. Bigger litter boxes give cats more room and comfort, so if you are having issues with small boxes it may be time for an upsize. There are a variety of types to choose from like open air or roofed boxes. Boxes that have lids are nice because they help contain odor, but not all cats are going to like them and may feel trapped using one. Cleaning is a great factor to consider when choosing your box as well! Self-cleaning boxes are a great option if you have the cash to spend, but since they are automatic they can scare away felines and divert them elsewhere.
tThere are also sifting pan litter boxes. These boxes have two containers, one with a grate that catches all the clumps when it is lifted from the bottom. These are convenient but are usually going to be on the smaller side in size. Make sure you get the right type of litter for the right type box and read directions to assure compatibility on both ends!hth
How often should I clean my cat's litter box?
Cleaning your cats’ litter box daily is important to make sure they use it every time. You can never clean it out too much, as cats like a hygienic space! Be sure to have a good amount of litter in the box at all times. If the litter box levels are too low, this can also affect your kitty’s usage of the box. The litter should be about 2-3 inches deep in the box. Too much litter can make it difficult for your cats to move through it. It is also important to change out the litter completely at least once a month and clean the box itself thoroughly. And be sure to listen to your cats, if they have a problem with their box, chances are they will let you know!
Just like us, cats like a clean and comfortable bathroom space. The attention to detail of your cats’ preferences and daily upkeep of these spaces is important for a stress-free environment for both of you in your home.
Written by Taelyn Livingston