Litter Box Selection Guide

Litter Box Selection Guide

The perfect litter box would be invisible. Your cat would disappear into it and then reappear perfectly clean and content. There would be no odor. No litter to freshen or replace. In fact, no maintenance of any kind, ever.

In recent years, great strides have been made toward creating the perfect litter box:

SIZE: Litter boxes are made in a variety of space-saving shapes to minimize their presence, but research shows, and most cat owners will agree on, one thing: the larger the box the better. Both the Jumbo Open Litter Pan and the Jumbo Hi-Back Hooded Litter Pan are oversized litter pans that fit the largest of cats.

COLORS: Litter boxes come in choices of decorator colors, or soft earth tones so they blend in with your décor. The discreet, attractive design of the rattan litter pan cover looks great in any room.

HOODS: Hooded litter boxes afford your cat privacy, help prevent the accidental spread of waste and urine, and help control odor. For example, the Jumbo Hi-Back Litter Pan has an integrated zeolite filter to capture odors.

CLEANING: Built-in cleaning mechanisms, both manual and automatic, make waste removal easier and extend the life of litter. The Nature’s Miracle® Self-Cleaning Litter Box actually cleans itself and deposits the waste in a disposable container that you remove, empty, and rinse. It’s a healthy alternative that minimizes handling.

LITTER: New varieties of litter, which come in a range of textures and materials, and litter odor treatments, are earning cat approval in homes across the country. Drs. Foster & Smith Signature Series™ All-Natural Clumping Cat Litter, for instance, is made from biodegradable USA-grown grasses. It absorbs and binds odor-causing matter and is safe for cats and humans. These grass granules are easier on your pet’s paws, won’t stick to the litter box, and produce less dust than clay litter.

ODOR CONTROL: Effective odor control products can create barriers to prevent the growth of odor in the litter box, and even draw pungent odors from the air around it. Litter box sprays help destroy offensive litter box smells.

Rollaway Litter Box

You can lead a cat to the perfect litter box, but can you make her use it?

Even provided the perfect litter box, your cat, or cats, might prove to be fussy about its use. You need to select a size and style she will use today. And you need to be flexible should she change her mind tomorrow. As your cat goes through the stages of her life, her preferences, as well as her ability to use the litter box, may also change.

STYLES: You may need to experiment with litter box styles. Before giving up on any litter box, however, understand that it might not be the box that is the problem. Be sure you have first tried a number of litter types at a number of depths, and whichever you use, always keep it clean.

NUMBER: Seldom will one litter box suffice. It is always a good idea to have at least two in service. It is far less likely your cat will find a reason to reject both. A good rule of thumb is to maintain at least one litter box for each cat, and at least one additional litter box than the total number of cats in your household.

LOCATION: Box location is critical. It needs to be in a quiet area, always a good distance from her food and water.

PRIVACY: Whatever style litter box you choose, make sure it affords your cat privacy. If you use a pan-style rather than a covered box, hide it with a Drs. Foster & Smith Kitty Litter Screen.

AGE: If your cat suffers from urinary disease, or is older, she will likely need a litter box she can enter and leave more easily. Climbing of any kind can become painful, forcing her to go outside the box.

Give yourself, and your cat, a break and investigate the more convenient, more hygienic options now available.

How To Choose The Right Litterbox

The name makes it sound so simple. A box, right? Just a box which you fill up with your choice of cat litter, right? Ha! If only it were that simple.

First-time cat owners are often amazed at the sheer variety of litterboxes available. Take a quick look at our Litterbox Reviews section and you’ll see we have more than 60 different listings, not counting different variations in colors. With such an amazing selection, what is a cat owner to choose?

Basically, litterboxes can either be open or covered. Beyond open vs. covered, there are several varieties currently available on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s review them and see what might be a good fit for your cat.

Open Litterboxes

This is the most basic and intrinsic design for a litterbox. An open box where kitty litter can be poured for the cat to dig in and cover. It needs to be deep enough, large enough and easy to clean. It is so simple in its design that some of the members at use plain yet sturdy storage boxes such as the ones made by Rubbermaid and Sterilite.
petmate giant litterbox.jpeg

The disposable litterbox

These are open litterboxes made of disposable materials, often cardboard or hardened recycled paper. The idea is to use them with non-clumping litter, and when it’s time to change the entire contents, you just pick up the box and chuck it away. No need to wash the box itself or use liners. These boxes can be scented or may have baking soda as an additional ingredient, to help with odor control.

The high-sided litterbox

These are still open litterboxes but they come with extra tall sides to prevent the cat from kicking litter out of the box, as some cats are prone to do. Again, you could use a regular storage box and get one that’s tall enough for your cat’s digging practices. Designated high-sided litterboxes usually have a u-shaped entry point, making it easier for the cat to enter the box without having to jump. It could be an important feature for older or arthritic cats. A regular storage box can be cut on one side to provide such an entry point.

The corner litterbox

This is simply a triangular-shaped box intended for use in the room’s corner. It can be high-sided or of regular height and it can even be a covered box. Its main advantage is aesthetic, in case you decide to place the box in the corner of a room.

Covered litterboxes

As the name implies, the covered litterbox has a cover, or a hood, turning it into a closed box with an opening at the front. The opening is usually a flap door allowing Kitty to enter and exit at will, while keeping the litterbox space cocooned within its plastic walls.

Some people like this because they think it’s a way to keep unwanted odors inside the box but this is a dangerous line of thought. Essentially, it means you don’t mind if the inside of the box stinks. It shouldn’t. How would you like to use a dirty stinky bathroom? Your cat wouldn’t either. If you opt for a covered box make sure it’s just as clean as any open box would be and consider removing the flap altogether to prevent odors from being trapped inside and deterring cats from using the box. You should also make sure it is large enough for your cat to use.


Read reviews of the Catit Hooded Cat Litter Pan by our members

Are you a minimalist with a modern sense of style? Look no further. Besides being a dog-proof litter box, it serves as a perfect addition to your home as a piece of beautiful furniture, also. Functionally, this covered litter box keeps smells to a minimum and reduces the chance that kitty would make a spill while doing his/her business.


The top-entry litterbox

Some covered boxes have their entries located at the top of the box. Essentially, this is a lidded box with a round hole in the lid allowing the cat to enter and exit the box. The main difference between this and a regular covered litterbox is that the cat has to jump in order to enter the box. It’s not a good fit for kittens, elderly cats or arthritic cats.

Automated litterboxes

Automated litterboxes are labor-saving devices. Simply put, they sift the litter for feces and urine clumps on their own. Some of these machines operate the cleaning process according to a set schedule, up to once an hour, while others use sensors to check for cat visits and clean once the cat has left the box. They can be a great solution for people who are too busy to or can’t clean the box on a regular basis. They are fairly expensive though and require some maintenance.

So, which litterbox should I choose?

Some things are true for all boxes. All cats prefer larger boxes over smaller ones. A kitten may do well with a smaller box but don’t forget to switch to a larger box as your cat grows in size. Make sure the box is large enough for a cat to comfortably turn around in. Having extra space is always good, as it allows Kitty to find a new clean spot and avoid soiled corners in case you didn’t get around to cleaning the box on time. The box should also be deep enough to allow for at least three inches of litter across the box’s surface.

As for which exact type to choose, you need to find a box that’s right for your cat and for you. The goal is to meet the following needs in a balanced way:

First, the box should be accessible to your cat at all times. If your cat is very young, elderly or disabled, it should not have to climb or jump in order to enter and exit the box.

Second, the box should feel safe to your cat. If there are other pets in your home, and specifically if there are bullying issues between cats at play, opt for an open box. Cats aren’t as bothered about privacy as we are. What they need is to feel safe by being able to see who is approaching the box and having the ability to leave instantly in a different direction. If that is an issue for your cat – opt for an open box that’s not a corner box. Place the box in a way that leaves escape routes open.

Third, the box should be easy to keep clean. Whatever fits your own needs here works. If you need a constant reminder of the condition of the box, you probably need an open box which you can see and smell at all times. Alternatively, if you’re too busy to clean the box regularly, a self-cleaning automated box may prove to be a good investment.

Why Choose Just One?

As our guide entitled “How Many Litterboxes Should You Have?” says, having at least two litterboxes in a household is a good idea. If you have more than one cat, there’s no reason to stop at two boxes. The rule of thumb is: The number of litterboxes should equal the number of cats plus one. They don’t need to be identical though. Having several litterboxes gives you a chance to experiment and see if your cats have any preferences. If one of the boxes stays unused for a long period of time, your cats are probably asking for a replacement. Otherwise, keep the boxes varied to suit their various needs.

Choosing a New Litter Box for a Cat or a Kitten

This spring, keep your home fresh with a variety of homemade solutions and commercial products to help you remove or neutralize pet stains and odors.

The Basics

Size, material and location
Plastic is typically the best material choice because it doesn’t absorb any unpleasant odors from your cat’s waste. If you’re raising a kitten or a smaller cat, it’s usually a good idea to choose a box with lower sides, something around 2-3 inches. If your cat is full-grown, a box that is 24 inches long or wide, with 4-inch walls, should work out great.

When picking a spot for your cat’s new litter box, it’s a good idea to place it where the old litter box was. Cats are creatures of habit, and moving their box could confuse or upset them. If you absolutely have to relocate their litter box, make sure that it’s in a low-traffic area with plenty of accessibility.


Litter pans
When it comes to litter boxes, simple is good. Standard litter pans typically cost less, take up less space and are easy to clean. But, keep in mind that because a standard litter pan has an open top, odors can become more apparent and exploring dogs or babies could stick their hand or snout in the box. This type of box also allows litter to be easily kicked out of the box and can leave you with a mess.

Self-cleaning boxes
These advanced options work by sifting waste from the litter and storing it in a disposable plastic bag or container. Although this option is easier on upkeep, it costs more.

If convenience is a priority for you, self-cleaning and automated litter boxes are well worth the money. It’s also important to note that some cats may feel skittish about these animated boxes, so don’t be surprised if your cat is a little jumpy about this option at first.

Covered boxes
If your little one prefers a little privacy, a covered box is a great choice. They are usually better at keeping litter and unpleasant odors under control, but they also tend to be more costly, harder to clean and less space efficient compared to tray boxes. Also keep in mind that some cats find it hard to get comfortable in an enclosed space, so you may have to test this option out first. Most cats will enjoy the privacy that a covered box provides.


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