How do you choose the best litter box for your cat?
If he's not using his current litter box, or is peeing and pooping one inch away from it on the floor, then it may be the wrong size, shape or design for him.
Before we get into detail, you'll find that different cats prefer different types of cat litter boxes, so there are no hard and fast rules here. However, there are a few general pointers which can help you narrow down your choices and hopefully find the best litter box as swiftly as possible.
There are loads of different cat litter boxes available. These include small, medium, large, extra large, high sided, disposable, partially covered, fully covered and boxes with charcoal filters.
The best litter box will be one that both you and Kitty are happy with. But Kitty's preferences need to come first; if they don't, it's likely your carpet is in for a major pee and poop assault.
The size, shape and design of the box are all contributing factors to Kitty's likes and dislikes. Let's look at each of these in turn:
A large cat is better off with a large cat litter box. He needs to have enough room to move around, find a spot he likes, squat down comfortably in a natural position, do his business without the fear of it accidentally messing up his butt and tail, and then turn round and cover it up.
If he can't do all of the above comfortably, he may well take his business elsewhere, to a place where he can do it with ease. Alternatively, he'll do it with his butt hanging over the edge of the box - probably without even realizing.
If your kitty has lots of "near misses", try getting him a large cat litter box. He isn't peeing and pooping half an inch away from his box just to aggravate you, however it might look.
With little kittens, make sure the box isn't too high for them to easily climb into. Some cat litter boxes have quite high trays, which a baby kitty may not be able to scale.
Some cat litter boxes may be long enough for a big cat, but too narrow for him to comfortably turn around in. Others may be wide enough, but not long enough.
Many owners prefer covered cat litter boxes, because they contain the cat litter odor. Unfortunately, Kitty may not agree.
He may feel claustrophobic inside the box, particularly if it has a flap over the entrance. And he may hate the smell. We don't like stinky bathrooms, and neither does Kitty.
Large cats may struggle with covered cat litter boxes, again because of difficulties in getting comfortable.
If you can't get Kitty to use a completely covered box, you could try removing the flap from the entrance. This may just reduce the claustrophobia and smell enough for him to be happy to use it. You should find most of the cat litter odor is contained, even when the flap is removed.
At the other extreme, some cats don't like open litter boxes. They like privacy when they powder their nose, so they actually prefer a closed box.
Some kitties don't like closed or open boxes! They don't like a closed box because of the smell etc., but don't like an open box either because it's not private enough for them!
If you think your cat may be in this category, try putting an open box in a quiet, private location and putting a screen round it. This gives him the best of both worlds.
Cat privacy screens are commercially available, but you could also quite easily make your own.
There's a lot to consider here, and finding the best litter box for your cat may take a bit of trial and error. Here's what I do...
Whenever I get a new cat, if I don't know the best litter box for them, I try two or three different types simultaneously. I usually use an open one, a closed one with a flap at the entrance and a semi-closed one with no flap at the entrance. I place them all in the same, quiet area. It usually doesn't take long for a cat to show a preference towards one.