How To Choose The Right Litterbox

Choosing the right litterbox for your feline friend might seem straightforward, but it's actually a decision that requires careful thought.

First-time cat owners are often taken aback by the vast array of choices available, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Litterboxes come in all shapes, sizes, and designs, from open to covered, disposable to high-sided, and even automated.

Ginger cat inside the pink litterbox

As you consider your options, it's important to consider the needs and preferences of both your cat and yourself.

In this article, we will break down the different types of litterboxes and help you make an informed choice for you and your furry companion.

Finding The Right Litterbox

The quest for the right litterbox can be overwhelming due to the many options available.

While there are numerous factors to consider, such as size, ease of cleaning, and accessibility, the primary choice you'll face is between open and covered litterboxes.

Let's take a closer look at each type and its respective subcategories to help you make an informed decision.

1. 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.

Click here to see this open litterbox on Amazon.

It must be deep, large, 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.

Disposable Litterbox

These are open litterboxes made of disposable materials, often cardboard or hardened recycled paper.

Click here to see this disposable litterbox on Amazon.

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.

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.

Click here to see this high-sided litterbox on Amazon.

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 jumping.

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.

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 even be a covered box.

Click here to see this corner litterbox on Amazon.

Its main advantage is aesthetic, in case you decide to place the box in the corner of a room.

2. 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.

Click here to see this covered litterbox on Amazon.

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 choose a covered box, ensure it is as clean as an open one.

Consider removing the flap to avoid trapping odors inside, which can discourage cats from using the box. You should also make sure it is large enough for your cat to use.


3. 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.

Click here to see this top-entry litterbox on Amazon.

The main difference between this and an ordinarily 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.

4. Automated Litterboxes

Automated litterboxes are labor-saving devices. Simply put, they sift the litter for feces and urine clumps on their own.

Click here to see this automated litterbox on Amazon.

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.

Automated litterboxes can be an excellent solution for people who are too busy or can't clean the box regularly.

They are fairly expensive though, and require some maintenance. To help you choose the right one for you, we prepared this guide: How To Choose The Best Automatic Litter Box For Your Cat.

So, Which Litterbox Should I Choose?

All litterboxes have some common features. All cats prefer larger boxes over smaller ones. Remember to switch to a larger box as your cat grows.

The box should be big enough for a cat to turn around comfortably. Extra space lets your cat find clean spots and avoid soiled corners.

gray striped cat acting like pooping in a yellow litterbox filled with cat litter

The box should be deep enough for at least three inches of litter. To choose the right box for your cat and you, consider the following:

1. Accessibility

Finding the right litterbox means ensuring it's always within easy reach for your cat. This is especially crucial for kittens, senior cats, or those with disabilities.

They shouldn't have to climb stairs, jump, or navigate obstacles to use the litterbox.

Place the box in a location that your cat frequents and avoid moving it around, as this can confuse your feline friend.

The right litterbox is one that is easily accessible to your cat at all times.

2. Safety

The right litterbox should make your cat feel safe while using it. This is particularly important in multi-pet households or where there are issues with bullying between cats.

An open litterbox lets your cat see who's approaching and quickly leave if they feel threatened.

cats dig in their litter box that causes other litter came out the box

Make sure the litterbox isn't in a corner or a dead-end, as this can make your cat feel trapped.

Position the box in an area with multiple escape routes, allowing your cat to easily exit in different directions.

2. Cleanliness

Keeping the litterbox clean is essential for your cat's health and comfort. Choose a box that's easy for you to maintain.

If you need a visual or olfactory reminder to clean the box, an open litterbox is a good choice, as it allows you to see and smell the contents.

On the other hand, if your schedule is hectic and you can't clean the box regularly, an automated self-cleaning box could be a smart investment.

Regardless of the type, scoop out waste daily, change the litter regularly, and wash the box at least once a month to prevent odors and ensure a clean environment for your cat.

Why Choose Just One?

Our guide titled "How Many Litterboxes Should You Have?" says that having at least two litterboxes in a household is a good idea.

There's no reason to stop at two boxes if you have more than one cat. The rule of thumb is: The number of litter boxes should equal the number of cats plus one.

two cat litter boxes with clay and organic cat litter

They don't need to be identical though. Several litterboxes allow you 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.

Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!


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How to choose the right litterbox for your cat

Read more on:

The Litterbox: What Every Cat Owner Needs To Know

How To Solve Litterbox Problems In Cats: The Ultimate Guide

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7 comments on “How To Choose The Right Litterbox

SirCatsAlotz mom October 29, 2022
I'd love a photo of your bins!
MrsNic2 June 14, 2020
I had stumbled across this you tube video about 2 years ago You use the Breeze litter system, wood pellets and puppy pads. The pellets break down to sawdust when exposed to urine, which sifts right through to the puppy pad. The breeze scoop is just the right size to let the pellets through when scooping the solid waste. I can get the pellets from pet stores or delivery through Chewy, but have found the farm supply places are the cheapest. A 40 pound bag of pellets cost me $6.99 and 100 puppy pads around $25 at Walmart or Sam’s. The pellets never need to be changed only added to. And the pad lasts around a week depending on how many cats you have. I used this for about a year until I had to buy more supplies (2 adult cats and trained 4 foster kittens plus I had to keep one of them. She was just too darn cute!). Very economical, the cats took to it right away and no smell because the sawdust is a natural deodorizer. Check it out. Many times you can find the Breeze systems at garage sales as a lot of cats don’t like them.
    SirCatsAlotz mom October 29, 2022
    So you just scoop the poop? I need a new method for my 3 yo cat and fast!
SuefromTN July 21, 2018
Ok .. I’m at a loss.. We are trying to understand our new 1 year old we just adopted 2 weeks ago. He initially took to the Breeze system and goes very contently in it, in fact, he loves to pee there, but then he has started to poo in random places, so we added a 2nd box using the regular Tidy Cat system, right next to his.. and it’s hit or miss. He used it this morning but later used the bathroom/laundry room floor to poo just awhile ago. We have the additional extra 2 more boxes downstairs in our studio for when we’re working. I hate to isolate him down there..but may have to. He’d be all alone- but lots of windows.. so.. you’re thoughts?
omahamike May 17, 2016
Well, this is a subject I can speak about with some expertise!!! I have been a cat lover all of my life (I am 75 years old now) and I am alone now and living on a farm. At the moment I have 7 cats, all spayed or neutered. They are my life, actually! Most of the farmers out this way just shoot the barn cats when their numbers get too large, so some of them escape and end up here, looking for a safe place to live, I imagine. There are a lot of predators out here, foxes, coyotes, badgers and even stray dogs, so I try to get them all inside every night, and I'm usually successful, I might add. But back to the litterbox subject... over the years I have tried every single type and style of commercially made litterbox, but there were inherent problems with each and every one of them, depending on what cats I had at the time and how many! What I ended up doing is getting ahold of a couple of plastic 55 gallon barrels that had had food coloring in them originally and cut them with a sabre saw to the height I thought would be accessible for the cats and a deeper cut as an entry point for them. No more litter on the floor around the box and no "oversprays" either! I have  2 of them in 2 rooms. Granted they're not for everyone because of their size, but now that I'm alone, I have an extra room for a "Cat room". One caution I might add if you're considering this option... BE SURE THE BARREL DIDN'T EVER CONTAIN CHEMICALS THAT MIGHT HARM/KILL YOUR ANIMALS. Boiler chemicals and insecticides do come in plastic barrels now, and should be avoided! I have seen 30 gallon and 55 gallon barrels, and like I said, mine had food coloring in them. Granted, they might not be so pleasing for your decor, but they are large enough for the largest cat and depending on how high you leave the sides, even the most aggressive litter scratcher can't get the litter out of it!! It takes a lot of litter to fill it deep enough for the cats, but that's a one-time thing! I NEVER change the whole box, I just add more litter as I remove the "clumps" that the urine and feces make in the clumping litter. I wouldn't recommend using the clay (non-clumping) litter, because then you would have to change it periodically. I also have not tried the new "light weight: litter either, but I if it ain't broke, don't fix it!  I scoop it out once a day, sometimes twice a day, and everybody is happy with that schedule. Any cat will start using a "cleaner" place to do their "business" if the litter box is full of clumps or is stinky! I have asked ALL of my friends to tell me if they can tell there's a cat in the house, and no one except a stepson with cat allergies who swells up after 10 minutes here has ever told me the house smells! I'd certainly want to know!! So, I give him a Benadryl and we can continue to visit!!   E-mail me for some suggestions on obtaining those barrels if you're having problems finding them. By now there is probably a return deposit on those barrels that wasn't in effect when I...
queen sparkle April 3, 2016
I love this article it has been really useful

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