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When it Comes to the Litter Box Set-up, Follow the “Keep it Simple” Rule

It’s time to take an honest look at your cat’s litter box set-up.

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1. Litter Box Size and Type

Covered litter boxes top my list of horrible ideas. The covered box reduces air circulation so it takes longer for the litter to dry. The cover also reduces head room for the cat when he’s in there. If your cat feels too cramped when in the litter box he’ll very likely choose another location… your living room carpet, for example. That’s probably not a choice you’re going to like.

If you live in a multicat household don’t use boxes with covers or you may create an anxious situation whenever a cat has to eliminate. The covered box reduces escape potential. Covered boxes can leave a cat vulnerable to an ambush. When in the litter box, your cat needs more than one way to escape.

If you have a large cat but have chosen a small litter box so it will fit neatly in a specific area, then it probably won’t be long before kitty decides to seek a more comfortable location (perhaps your dining room carpet this time). The box size should be large enough for your cat to eliminate in there several times without having to stand on previously soiled mounds of litter. It’s not fair to ask a large cat to impersonate an accordion and squeeze into a small litter box. In general, the box should be one-and-a-half times the length of your cat.

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Electronic and self-cleaning litter boxes are potentially too noisy (which can scare a cat) and the surface the cat stands on can be uncomfortable. Some self-cleaning boxes require the use of a special substrate which may be a texture some cats find objectionable. I’ve also found high-tech boxes to be too small for the cat. The entire box may be large but the actual litter surface area for the cat is too small. These boxes also prevent you from monitoring what is or isn’t happening in the litter box. The ability to monitor what does or doesn’t happen in the box is a valuable diagnostic tool when it comes to your cat’s health.

gray cat next to covered litter box

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2. Litter Box Cleanliness

Scoop the box at least twice a day. It only takes a few seconds to scoop. If you find your cat is eliminating just outside of the box, it may very well be because that’s as close as he can get to the box because of how dirty it is. He may be trying to go where he’s supposed to but his nose is warning him about the stench coming from the filthy box.

The entire box should be thoroughly scrubbed and replaced with fresh litter on a regular basis. If you use scoopable litter, clean the box at least once or twice monthly. If you don’t use scoopable litter then the box needs to be cleaned more often.

And here’s the part cat guardians never want to hear – there should be more litter boxes than cats. A good rule to follow is to have one more box than you have cats. A common reason for litter box aversion is that too many cats are forced to use too few litter boxes.

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