Designing the Optimal Litter Box for your Cat

Cats are very clean animals and need adequate unsoiled locations to eliminate, especially in a multi cat household. How you manage the litter box can encourage or discourage acceptable toileting habits. It is always easier to prevent house soiling than trying to fix it when the problem occurs. Listed below are some points which are considered when encouraging good litter habits.

Number of litter boxes
It is recommended to have one for each cat and one extra. If you have a large or two story house your cats may require more than the above amount and they should always be in different rooms or areas. Cat’s that are ‘family’ share territory, groom and play with each other and rest together may be more willing to share litter boxes but this is not always the case.

Location  
Avoid placing litter trays near the cat’s food and water areas.

  • Cats prefer quiet, private places. Avoid high traffic areas and locations where the cats can be cornered and cannot escape. Also, a ‘bully’ cat may prevent a ‘victim’ cat access to the litter box if the tray is kept in a small room down one end of the house.
  • Keep additional litter trays in different locations.
  • If a cat is toileting away from its litter box, try placing a litter tray in the area and slowly move it to your desired place.
  • In a multi-level home, ensure that the litter trays are in both levels.

Size
Bigger the better! Commercial litter boxes are too small as the litter box length should be at least twice the length your cat, for example a storage container. Some cats like a cover on their litter box to hide while use it, older cats need low entry so make sure the container is low for easy access.

Litter
Cats generally prefer unscented clumping litter and dislike aromatic, dusty litter, deodorisers and box liners. When a cat eliminates near their litter box but not inside it or doesn’t bury their poo, it indicates that they do not like the feel of their litter. Trying a range of litters in different boxes at the same time may help you figure out which one your cat prefers. Cats also prefer to hide their poo and wee so litter should be at least 6cm deep to allow them to dig and hide.

Follow these tips to keep the litter as clean as possible making a happy cat:

  • Scoop out soiled litter once to twice a day.
  • Completely empty the litter once a week to fortnightly
  • Wash the litter box fortnightly with soap and hot water. Avoid strong chemicals or any ammonia based products

About the author: Megan Reilly

Megan is a Veterinary Nurse Technician - the highest qualification available to Veterinary Nurses in Australia, Megan has a fun loving spirit and brings a positive energy to Heights Pet Hospital. She is a talented nurse who has a love for all patients and is continuously updating our processes and procedures, always finding a better or more effective way. She has been at the hospital since its opening in 2011 and in the veterinary industry since 2000, starting out as a kennel hand and then completing veterinary nursing cert IV in 2006. She has also undertaken additional study, gaining her qualification as a Veterinary Nurse Technician in 2015. Megan runs our puppy school classes and has a special interest in canine behaviour. She continues to give back to the industry with her dedication to training new veterinary nurses and work experience students. Megan has Trevor, a black domestic short hair cat with a penchant for extravagant bow ties! and Howard, a fiesty Border-Terrier.

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