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  • Writer's pictureToni Castro

Litter Me This!

Oh, the litter box....the cat’s commode.... the cat-head...the cat porta potty that permanently inhabits your home. Maintaining a litter box instead of constant walks around the block and praying to the heavens that your dog will do their duty is a major perk of having a kitty. Today I’ll be getting into all things litter related, from different types of litter boxes to why your kitty may not be using the litter box at all.

Automatic Litter Box

Automatic litter boxes have been on the rise and they can truly be a wonderful way to have a more hands off experience when it comes to scooping your cat’s litter box. A few of my favorites based off of overall performance are the Litter Robot, Pet Safe Scoop-Free and Nature’s Miracle Self-Cleaning. Monitoring these three litter boxes while clients are away have always been a breeze to me.

-The Litter Robot is amazing! It has a high price point, however, they truly work and I’ve seen them manage up to 4 cats in one household with just this single litter box. The globe on this litter box circles/cycles automatically 7 minutes after your cat’s use and sifts the litter as it turns. The soiled litter drops into a compartment underneath which stays sealed keeping the smell very well contained. The Litter Robot will tell you when it’s compartment is full by a small blinking indicator on the front of the box.

-The Pet Safe Scoop Free operates with silicone crystals that will absorb liquid and dehydrate solids. I have noticed that the smell stays well contained. This box self rakes the litter every 20 minutes. It does come with basic refills that you can simply lift up the plastic part of the box, slide out the used cardboard tray, slide in the new tray, and you’re done changing the litter box. The amount of waste your kitties are putting out is dependent on how often you have to change this. Overall it’s an extremely easy option and because of how quiet this box is, I haven’t seen too many kitties that were afraid of this box.

-Nature’s Miracle’s take on the self-cleaning litter box has the same raking maneuver as the Pet Safe Scoop Free, but they suggest using their own corn cob clumping litter. This litter box has a small plastic tray on the end of it that the litter box rakes all deposits straight into. You can dump these plastic trays out every couple of days and reuse them or replace it with a brand new one. It also has a built in scoop, which I thought was a nice detail just in case the rake falls short on performing.

Regular Litter Box

A regular litter box (hooded or not) is one of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to satisfy your kitties litter box needs. From biodegradable boxes that can be thrown out all at once to a classic plastic one with/without a hood, I love a regular old litter box for the overall accessibility of it all. I’m currently using the Flip Top Litter Box by Modkat, Advanced Hooded Corner Litter Box by Nature’s Miracle and a top-entry that I randomly found on Amazon (they never use the top-entry so I don’t pay it much mind. Who has lazy cats that don’t want to jump into their toilet? I DO!!). My absolute favorite product that I have to compliment my litter boxes at home is a Litter Genie. It works exactly like a diaper genie. That way you only have to take the litter out once every couple of weeks all at once as opposed to every single time you scoop. A DREAM COME TRUE. You can also just make your own little genie by just placing a small trash can right beside the litter box, however I’ve found the Litter Genie works wonders on keeping the smell at bay.

Top Entry Litter Box

Top-entry litter boxes are ideal for kitties that love to kick and fling their litter to Timbuktu with every use. Your kitty will hop on top of the litter box and then jump down through a hole in the top of the box. The part where they hop onto the box is grated letting all excess litter fall straight into the box. This is one of the best litter box options when living in small spaces to mitigate excess litter.

Hooded Vs Non-Hooded

When it comes to this question I have almost never seen a cat that prefers one over the other. I consulted my old friend Google to see if any specific studies have been conducted on whether cats have any preference. Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine ran a study in 2013 finding that 70% showed absolutely no preference (i.e. used both boxes equally), 15% used the covered litter box more significantly, while 15% used the uncovered more than the covered. Pretty even results. This study was conducted with 28 cats that had no history of elimination problems.1This is not to say that your kitty doesn’t have a preference, but typically it doesn’t make too much of a difference. I have found that most people choose a hooded litter box to help keep the mess to a minimum.

Types of Litter

When it comes to types of litter I personally prefer a natural option. Clay litter can contain Sodium Bentonite (a chemical that causes the clumping action in clay litter). Sodium Bentonite is dangerous when ingested...which all cats will do when they lick their paws after using the litter box. Clay litter can cause intestinal blockages which can lead to death, and the sodium bentonite is also a known health hazard for people. 2 Clay is also not eco-friendly and does not break down well in our landfills either. However, Clay is always going to be the cheapest option. I have found that there are so many natural options that won’t break the bank, are eco-friendly and mask smell just as well if not better than clay. I personally use walnut litter by Naturally Fresh in my multi-cat home. The clumping action is awesome, the smell is either non existent or minimal and it is completely biodegradable. Plus, it’s available in most pet stores!

Cat Not Using the Litter Box

A pretty regular question I receive is: Why the heck is my cat not using his/her litter box?! Recently, I thought I’d seen it all until a client told me their cat went as far as to utilize the indoor house plant as her new bathroom!

A few things to consider when your kitty is having trouble making his/her way to the litter box:

  • The box may simply not be big enough! It may seem as though the box is the perfect size based on the size of your cat, but you would be surprised at how often this is the remedy. If your kitty is a digger, they’ll need adequate room while digging their tunnel to China.

  • The litter box is not cleaned as often as your cat prefers. Every other day may simply just not be enough and your cat may really not like the idea of walking over their own clumps every time they enter the box. I suggest doing a complete clean out of old litter about once/month and scrubbing down the box with soap and water about every 2 months. Once again, this is completely determined by how many cats you have and how frequent they are using the bathroom.

  • Your cat may not like the litter. Imagine every time you went to the bathroom you had to walk barefoot down a gravel road… welp. I think you know where this is headed. The texture and size of granules really does matter! I’ve seen this problem arise with pellet style litter or silicone litter the most. Some cats could care less, but others may really not like that sensation on their paws.

  • Try out litter with Cat Attract. Dr. Elsey’s has a formula that is specifically made to attract your kitties to their rightful toilet with natural herb attractant.

  • TALK TO YOUR VET!! - Your vet will be able to ensure there are no underlying health issues that may be causing your kitty to eliminate in the wrong place. Despite all the resources online a trained professional will be able to give you the most accurate information on your kitty.

At the end of the day finding the correct litter box for your kitty may take a couple of tries to get right. Luckily, we are entering the age of the house-cat where companies are finally coming out with products that go above and beyond for your feline family members. Lastly, DON’T OVERTHINK IT. Choose the option that is also right for you and your lifestyle! A litter box option that does not require 24/7 oversight is going to be your best bet because you’re looking for a long-term sustainable option for you both.





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