When trying to find the best cat litter and litter boxes for your indoor cats, you may be overwhelmed by all the choices on the market. Since eliminating outside the the litter box is a primary concern of cat owners, you’ll want to make the best choice to help ensure that doesn’t happen. I’ve done a lot of research and some in-home preference testing with my cat, Cody. Though he’s very good about using his litter box, he definitely showed preferences for litter and for the style of box. I hope this will help you make a great choice the first time!
There are all types of litter boxes on the market, ranging from the basic open litter pan to the more complicated self-cleaning models. Prices range from about $5 to close to $300. The type of litter box you choose depends on what you want to spend, the size and age of your cat, and the space you have available. But the good news is that cats tend to prefer the basic, less expensive models.
What to Look For:
- Size. Cats like a box that is roomy enough for them to avoid stepping in their business. Rubbermaid makes a nice, large box with raised sides that sells for about $25.
- Style. Cody definitely prefers an open litter box with no cover. Traditional hooded litter boxes trap odors inside the box, which could turn your cat off pretty quickly. Remember, their noses are way more sensitive than ours. If using a hooded box, it’s very important to keep it very clean.
- Simplicity. Avoid odor-reducing gimmicks. Keep the box clean instead by scooping at least once if not twice per day.
- Number of Boxes. Have one box per cat plus one to help ensure a peaceful, clean option for your cat. And if you’re going to be away for more than two days and do not have a reliable scooper stand-in, it’d be a good idea to pick up a third box.
- Construction. Most litter boxes are made from durable plastic. Kitty’s Wonderbox makes disposable boxes from recycled paper which some people love. There are also stainless steel boxes, which I would like to try for the cleanliness factor. Stainless steel is easy to clean and, unlike plastic which scratches easily, won’t harbor bacteria and odor. The litter is also unlikely to stick to the bottom as it does with both the plastic and disposable boxes.
- Enclosures. There are also a number of hidden enclosures you can buy for a litter box, such as benches, cabinets, and even large potted plants. These may work well if you’re limited on space, but keep in mind that they will trap odors so you’ll want to be very vigilant about keeping them clean.
Proceed with Caution
- Top Entry Boxes / CleverCat. I bought a CleverCat for my cat after reading scads of positive reviews online. And then I came across catinfo.org and Dr. Lisa Pierson. She strongly advises against this box. If you haven’t seen it, it looks like a storage tub. The cat accesses the box via a large hole in the top. Dr. Pierson says that it is not healthy for a cat’s tendons and joints to have to push off on a soft material to make the jump out of the box. Also, the box would definitely not be suitable for a kitten, an older cat, or a large cat. My cat used the box without complaint, but when I got a second, larger open box for him to use as a back-up, he quickly demonstrated his preference. Large, open box it is, paws down.
- Self-Cleaning Boxes. Reviews are mixed on these, some people love them, some hate them. They are expensive to buy and there are ongoing costs associated with keeping them operating. I’ve never used one and am skeptical that they work as well as just plain old scooping. I would also be concerned about a malfunction startling my cat while he’s using the box.
- Clay. Most cats prefer unscented cat litter. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat is a great choice, and seems to be Cody’s favorite as well. ScoopAway’s unscented formula is also good, but I found that Precious Cat clumps much better, which goes a long way toward keeping the box clean.
- Corn/Flushable. It’s also worth trying World’s Best Cat Litter. This environmentally friendly litter is made from corn, clumps well, absorbs odor, and is flushable. It’s a lighter than clay litter, and so it may take some time for your cat to adjust to it. It is dusty though, and corn can induce allergies in cats, so it would be best to use this litter in an open box. Cody didn’t mind this, but given a choice, opted for clay.
- Special Considerations. Note that if you’re using a specialized litter box, such as a self-cleaning model, you may not be able to use clumping litter. Check the product instructions.
No particular brand to recommend, but the finer the slots, the better. You want to be able to remove all soiled litter, even the small chunks that break away from the clump. Another option is to buy a scoop without slots. You may go through more cat litter, but it will help to keep the litter you have nice and clean.
Litter Box Spray
I ordered Stink Free Instantly Litter Box spray from Drs. Foster and Smith. Before filling the box, I coat the bottom of the pan with this spray, and it helps keep the litter from sticking to the bottom of the pan, which helps keep the litter box clean. My objection is that it’s scented, but the scent wears off over time. My cat is not fussy about scent so it works for me, but not all cats are as laid back as Cody!
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