How to Choose the Best Litter Boxes for Your Cats and Why You Need To

Petion is keen to bring about the best cat toiletry solutions to all the furriends and also spread some interesting and useful knowledge to you. We found this piece of reading regarding cat litter box selections written by Jason Nicholas, BVetMed ("Dr. J") and would love to share it with you all! :D




Litter Box 101: How to Choose the Best Litter Boxes for Your Cats and Why You Need To

When you first get a cat, your next stop is usually the pet store for kitty supplies. A litter box is always at the top of that list, but few people give much thought to the box itself. 

Looking at them, you might think that any one box is about the same as any other. However not all litter boxes are created equal; more to the point, not all litter boxes are created equal for all cats.

Cats can be very particular about the size, shape, depth, and other attributes of their litter boxes. And rightly so! Think about it, how would you like it if the bathroom you had to use each day was super small and cramped? Or if you had to climb over a wall or navigate through a maze to get to the bathroom? Or if the toilet flushed randomly whenever you walked by it?

None of those scenarios sound fun, right? Yet that’s exactly what it can feel like for cats whose only options are litter boxes that are too small for them, or have sides or enclosures that are too cumbersome to navigate. And as for the “flushing randomly” problem, that’s a real concern for cats with automatic scooping litter boxes – many cats are spooked by the sound and movement that occasionally emanates from their box!

And if a cat is spooked by their box, or “inconvenienced” by the size or complexity of it, they’re more likely to go looking for somewhere else less spooky and more comfortable to go. Your laundry or bed will do just fine — thank you! 

Want to avoid that, and the stress that the wrong boxes will cause your cat? Follow these tips to help ensure that you’re finding the right boxes for your cat. 


How Many Litter Boxes You Should Have

Even in a one-cat household, it shouldn’t be “one and done” when getting litter boxes. Everybody likes to have options, and for many reasons it’s a good idea to give them to your cat too when it comes to where they pee and poo. The general rule is to have one more litter box than the number of cats you have — it’s called the “n+1 rule.” For example, 2 cats=3 litter boxes, and so on. Having too few litter boxes is a common cause for many of the “toileting problems” that result in cats being brought to the vet or relinquished to the shelter.


How Big the Litter Box Should Be

This is perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing your cat’s litter boxes. Cramped quarters are no fun for anyone! Make sure the litter boxes you choose for your cat are large enough for your cat to fit inside comfortably, with some room to spare. They should have ample space to move and dig around in it, without having to step out. There should be plenty of space for them to easily avoid any “deposits” that are still around from earlier visits.

As a general rule, the correct size litter box should be at least as long as your cat, from their nose to the tip of their tail (when extended), and its width should be at least as wide as your cat is long (with their tail not extended). 


How Tall the Litter Box Sides Should Be

The height of the boxes’ sides is also a very important thing for you to consider. And your cat's personality and "condition" will partially dictate the hight of the boxes they need.

  • Best Box Height For Most Cats: For cats that aren't "sprayers," or don't routinely kick litter out of their boxes, a box with walls around 5–7" high is typically great (especially if the box is large). Check out my recomendation for the best overall litter box for general use below.

  • Best Box Height for "Sprayers" and More: If you've got a "sprayer," "kicker," or a cat with bad aim in your "clowder" (the official name for a group of cats), then you'll want the sides to be tall enough to minimize the risks of these undesirable habits; but of course your cat still needs to be able to get into and out of their boxes with ease and without pain. So look for boxes with three sides that are tall enough to prevent pee, poop, or litter hitting your floor (usually wall heights of around 8–12" are good), but that also have a lower entry/exit side to make getting in and out easy (this side should be around 5–6"). See below for my litter box recommendations for "sprayers," "kickers," and those with bad aim.

  • Best Box Height for Mobility Issues: If you've got a young kitten or any cats with arthritis or other mobility problems, then you'll definitely need boxes with at least one side that’s super low. For most of these cats, an entry/exit side that is around 2.5–3.5" typically provides a good balance of ease of entry/exit for your cat, while still being able to keep litter in. Check out my litter box recommendation for young kittens and arthritic cats at the end of this article.


Why You Should Avoid Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

There are many self-cleaning boxes on the market now, and it can be tempting to drop a little extra cash for the convenience of a box you never have to scoop. But as inconvenient or unpleasant as you might think it is to scoop litter boxes each day, it will be far less convenient or pleasant when your cat is startled by their automatic litter box and becomes too scared to use it. Then add in the fact that many of these self-cleaning boxes require special (read: expensive) litters; not to mention that the daily scooping ritual with regular boxes provides an important opportunity to spot any changes in your cat’s pees and poos that could indicate a developing health concern (e.g., diabetes, kidney disease, constipation, or even urinary obstruction).