Guide to the Cat Litter Box

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

23 September 2016

Cleaning out your cat's litter tray is one of the less desirable parts of being a cat servant. It’s a dirty job but someone's gotta do it. It may not feel especially glamourous as you scoop up poo, but litter training your cat is a great move. Firstly, it allows you to monitor any changes in the frequency, volume and consistency of your cat’s faeces and so identify possible health problems. Secondly, every poo in the litter box is one that isn’t being baked into your carpet by the midday sun. Great success!

Do not disturb

Everyone likes a bit of privacy when using the toilet and your cat is no different. Place their litter tray in a quiet area of the house where they are unlikely to be disturbed by people, opening doors or noisy household appliances. If possible, provide multiple litter boxes around the house and in your cat’s outdoor enclosure - you’ll quickly figure out where your cat is most comfortable doing its business. Finally, ensure that the litter tray is placed far away from your cat's food and water bowls. There’s nothing like a bad smell when it comes to ruining appetite.

To pee or not to pee

An unchanged litter tray is the feline equivalent of a petrol station bathroom: so repulsive you’d rather find somewhere else to go, even if it means holding it in for the long drive home. Remember that a cat's sense of smell is 14 times stronger than a human’s: great when you break out the treats, not-so-great when the litter’s overflowing - expect rebellion. Your cat may choose to hold its urine rather than use the litter, which can cause major health problems, including blockages in the urinary tract, and fatal kidney problems. Consider yourself lucky if your cat instead soils your new rug or house plant, and use it as motivation to do better in the future. Keep your cat’s litter tray fresh and feline friendly!

  • Remove any faecal matter on a daily basis
  • Clean the litter tray once a week with warm water and a cat friendly detergent. Some bleaches and disinfectants are toxic to cats so read the label first.
  • Avoid strong smelling bleaches as these are also likely to repel your cat.
  • Clean the area around the litter tray including carpet, tiles, skirting boards and walls - in case your cat missed the target- at least once a month.

Size matters

The ideal size of your cat's litter tray depends on the size of your cat. Cats like to have room to move around before settling on the purrfect place to pee, so make sure to give them enough room to turn in pursuit of relief. As far as the size of litter, smaller is better! Fill the tray with 3cm of fine, sandy litter.

Friend or Foe

There’s a big debate about covered litter trays and who they actually benefit. Some pet parents opt for a confined litter tray because it gives their cat privacy, as well as keeping their business out of sight. However, some cats feel vulnerable in a space with only one exit, and may be too nervous to use their litter. As with everything else, adapt our advice to your individual fuzzball.

Not sure how to toilet train your kitten? We can help. Or, if you need help with other grooming tasks, read on.


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