Advice for Cat Litter Boxes
Even if your cat goes to the bathroom outside without your help, it’s always a good idea to give him a variety of options. A cat litter tray or litter box can help avoid accidents, discomfort, and bladder and bowel issues in your cat.
What does a cat do when it needs to go to the bathroom?
A cat will go to the bathroom 3-5 times per day on average.
When cats go to the bathroom, they have a natural instinct to dig and bury, which usually begins around the age of seven weeks, though some cats will leave it exposed. To urinate, cats squat, and to defecate, they squat slightly higher. If your cat is behaving oddly, it’s best to contact your veterinarian.
The majority of cats tend to use the bathroom in secluded or private areas on the outskirts of their “core territories” (i.e. the area where they eat, sleep and play).
What is a Litter Tray, and how does one use one?
A litter tray is a receptacle or tub filled with loose granular cat litter that cats use as a toilet. A “litter box” is another term for it.
Cats don’t need to be taught to use a litter tray because their natural instinct is to use a material where they can dig and bury their waste. When they’re little kittens, this action comes naturally to them, and if a litter tray is nearby, they’ll use it instinctively.
If my cat goes outside, do I need to keep a Litter Tray indoors?
Even if your cat prefers to use the litter box outside, it’s a good idea to have an indoor litter tray on hand just in case (e.g. for emergencies). When the weather is particularly cold or wet, your cat may not want to go outside, or there may be another cat in the area who makes it unsafe for them to do so, so providing a litter tray ensures that they always have an option.
I’m not sure what kind of Litter Tray to use.
Every cat is different and has their own preferences, but most cats prefer to use a litter tray that is easy to access and large enough for them to turn around in.
The majority of litter trays are rectangular and made of plastic, but there are a wide range of options available, ranging from simple cardboard disposable litter trays to elaborate, automatic devices.
Many cat owners like the idea of automatic, self-cleaning litter trays, but the motor noises and vibrations produced by the self-cleaning process can be annoying to cats and may even discourage them from using them.
For privacy, should Litter Trays be left open or covered?
Owners prefer covered litter trays because the contents are hidden from view, and many people believe cats prefer them as well because they provide a discreet and private space.
When going to the bathroom, many cats prefer to feel as if they can see everything.
Most cats will adapt to a covered tray, but some will feel vulnerable in a small space with only one exit. Open trays are preferable in multi-cat households because any cat using one cannot be ambushed by another hiding out of sight.
What size Litter Tray do you have?
The ideal litter tray size, according to most veterinarians, is “one and a half times the length of your cat, from nose to tail.” This helps your cat to run about easily, dig, and hide.
The recommended minimum tray size is approximately 49cm x 38cm, which is commonly referred to as “Jumbo” or “Extra Large” by the tray manufacturer.
Some cats may require a plastic storage container or a garden tray due to the increased popularity of giant breeds such as the Maine Coon.
If you’re giving a kitten a litter tray, start small and gradually increase the size as the kitten grows.
I’m not sure what type of cat litter to get.
Cat litter can be made from a variety of materials, including paper, wood, silica, corn, wheat, and Fuller’s earth, but most cats prefer unscented litter that looks like sand. More about the variety of materials can be read at https://www.katzengeschnurre.de/katzenstreu-test/.
Sand-like litters are heavy to transport, but there are lighter biodegradable options. From a young age, cats develop a preference for a specific form of cat litter, so it’s best to stick with what they’re used to.
Is it better to get clumping or non-clumping cat litter?
Clumping and non-clumping cat litters are both available. When your cat uses it to go to the bathroom, clumping litter clumps together. This makes scooping out tiny bits of litter when needed much easier. Since non-clumping litter collects urine, you’ll need to change the entire litter tray on a regular basis. If the litter tray begins to smell, you may need to switch to a different type of litter or clean it more frequently, depending on which option you choose.
In the litter tray, how much litter should I put?
Most veterinarians recommend a depth of 3-4cm of cat litter in a litter tray, but your cat may have a different preference, so keep an eye on him to make sure he’s happy. Some cats prefer deep litter, but in an uncovered tray, this can result in a lot of litter being dug up and buried outside the tray. If your cat needs to go to the bathroom more frequently than usual due to medical reasons, you’ll need to adjust the amount of litter you use to account for this.
Do you clean your cat litter tray on a regular basis?
To remove any lumps, scoop clumping litters at least twice a day. Change non-clumping litter every day or as needed. Once a week, remove the entire contents of the litter tray and wash it in hot water with mild detergent. Phenol and chloroxylenol, for example, are poisonous to cats and should not be used. For medical reasons, your veterinarian can urge you to use a specific antibacterial cleaning product.
Is it necessary to line the litter box of my cat?
To make it easier to clean out the litter tray, some people recommend using polythene tray liners or newspaper. In fact, these are prone to puncture marks and tears, which causes them to leak. While digging and burying, cats’ claws can become caught in the polythene, which is a painful experience for them.
I’m not sure how many litter trays I’ll need.
When cats go outside to pee and defecate, they prefer to do so in separate areas. So, if you wanted to build the perfect indoor alternative, you’d set up two trays for one cat, one in each field.
When there are multiple cats in the house, the general rule is “one per cat plus one extra.”
In a household with four cats, for example, there will be five litter trays spread around the house. However, if all of the cats in the house are friendly, they might be willing to share.
What should I do with the litter tray(s) for my cat?
In order for your cat to feel comfortable, the location is crucial. Litter trays should be placed in hidden corners or near walls so that your cat has a full 180° view of any approaching danger while being protected from behind.
Litter trays should be put away from where your cat eats and drinks, and not in high-traffic areas such as a landing or corridor, where they may be disturbed.
Other areas to avoid include those near full-length windows with views of the garden, cat flaps, and external doors, where the threat of strange cats outside may be especially evident for your cat.
Should I use a different litter tray because I have an elderly cat?
If you have an elderly cat, an indoor litter tray would almost definitely be appropriate for their comfort in the future, regardless of their previous behaviors.
If your cat has stiff joints, a larger litter tray with a low entrance should be placed in a convenient location for them.
Should I use a special litter tray because I have a kitten?
Since your kitten will be tiny at first, a small litter tray with low sides is best. They will, however, grow quickly, and you will need to replace the litter tray with a larger one on a regular basis for the first year or so of their lives.
When kittens are young, they can be very exploratory, and they have a habit of placing odd things in their mouths. For this reason, some kittens will show an interest in cat litter, so it’s important to keep an eye on them early on. If they’re prone to this, it’s a good idea to use a plant-based cat litter that won’t harm them if they eat it. When they’re older, you’ll be able to turn to a more suitable cat litter.