How To Pick The Best Cat Litter Box

There's an art to getting it justtt right 🐱🚽

Cat with Litterboxes

Are you scouring the internet looking for the right litter box for your cat?

Litter boxes aren't one-size-fits-all, and it's super important to find one that your cat actually wants to use — or else she'll happily do her business elsewhere.

While some people might get desperate enough to toy with the idea of training a cat to use the toilet, it’s not the best way to go.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Andrea Tu, medical director at Behavior Vets NYC, and Grace Thurlow, companion animal behaviorist and trainer at Peaceful Pets Behavior Consulting in Loveland, Colorado, to find out more about how to pick the best litter box for your cat.

Best overall litter box:Cove Litter Box
Best litter box for messy cats:Van Ness Giant High Sides Cat Litter Pan
Best litter box for older cats:KittyGoHere Senior Cat Litter Box
Best self-cleaning litter box:Litter-Robot 3 Connect

How many litter boxes does a cat need?

According to Dr. Tu, you should have at least one more box than the number of cats in your home. As an example, that means three cats need four litter boxes. “These should be spread out through the house, and not gathered in one location,” Dr. Tu told The Dodo.

If living in a multiple-floor home, you should have at least one box per floor.

“It is important to note that having two litter boxes next to each other is considered to be one litter box since it is in the same room and therefore the same environment,” Thurlow told The Dodo. “This is especially important for multi-cat households.”

Cats may like to join you while you go to the bathroom, but they won't enjoy being interrupted when they use the litter box and another cat walks in.

Where should a litter box be located?

Litter boxes should be in quiet, low-traffic zones in the home. “I often have clients who keep their cat's litter boxes in the laundry room,” Thurlow said. “Although this works for some cats, the beeping of a laundry machine can cause a cat to choose another place to use the bathroom (which may be your floor!).”

Thurlow suggests using a quiet bathroom or another quiet area that isn't difficult for your cat to get to.

“Not near any loud/scary machines,” Dr. Tu said. “Not on unstable ground/anywhere the box could fall or tip over.”

Additionally, Dr. Tu suggests having the litter box in a location with multiple entry points, so it shouldn’t be stuck in tight corners where your cat may feel trapped.

How tall should a litter box be?

The general rule is that a litter box should be 2 to 4 inches deep, but Dr. Tu says it really depends on your individual cat and her needs.

“The ideal litter box height varies from cat to cat,” Thurlow said. “Older cats, or cats with mobility issues, do best with shorter litter boxes. Cats that urinate more vertically do best with taller litter boxes.”

How big should a litter box be?

The ideal litter box is twice the length of your cat. “You'll find that many litter boxes are too small, so I often suggest to clients a DIY litter box using a tupperware container,” Thurlow said.

So if you have a larger cat, like a Maine coon, you’ll need to get creative.

“This is key!” Dr. Tu said. “You may notice that most commercial litter boxes are too small for most cats; we recommend you create your own using large plastic storage bins with the sides cut down.”

Are covered litter boxes good for cats?

If you’re thinking about getting a covered litter box because you think it looks better, just keep in mind that not all cats love this method, mainly because they don’t like surprises.

“From my experience, most cats prefer uncovered litter boxes,” Thurlow said. “This allows the cat to see their full surroundings while using the bathroom. Again, this entirely depends on your cat!”

While most cats prefer uncovered litter boxes, though, some do love the idea of being enclosed. You’ll have to test these out with your cat to see what she prefers.

Are self-cleaning litter boxes worth it?

Automatic litter boxes basically scoop your cat’s poop for you, so all you have to do is throw away the contents every week or so.

It’s not a great option for every cat, though, especially if your cat gets scared easily.

“They may seem convenient for the cat owner, but many times, cats are fearful of the noises and movements they make, which can cause them to stop using the litter box,” Thurlow said.

Some cats totally don’t mind having an automatic litter box, though, and love that they’re guaranteed to have a fresh litter box every time they go — just like some of our Dodo cats who tested the Litter-Robot 3 Connect and awarded it our Paw of Approval.

How to clean your litter box(es)

According to Dr. Tu, there are three basic steps you should follow to keep your cat’s litter box clean and tidy:

1. Scoop it at least one to two times a day.

2. Dump it weekly if using non-clumping litter, and monthly if using clumping litter.

3. Wash it with water and mild soap monthly.

Best litter boxes

Best overall litter box: Cove Litter Box
Tuft And Paw

This litter box earned our coveted Paw of Approval — and for good reason. Not only does it have a sleek, modern design that you won’t be embarrassed to show off, but it also comes with its own cleaning tools, and our cat reviewers loved using it.

Van Ness Giant High Sides Cat Litter Pan

If your cat loves kicking or spraying, this high-sided litter box will be the answer to your prayers. 

Best litter box for older cats: KittyGoHere Senior Cat Litter Box

Whether you have a senior cat or a cat with mobility or arthritis issues, this box is built with her in mind. Its shorter entry point will allow her to get in and out without any added stress.

Best self cleaning litter box: Litter-Robot 3 Connect
Litter Robot

If your cat can cope with a self-cleaning litter box, then this is the one for her. It earned our Paw of Approval based on how much our cats didn’t mind using it coupled with how much their parents loved never having to scoop poop again.

Of course, there are many boxes on the market, so you may have to try a few different boxes to find one your cat loves — the perfect litter box should be as unique as your cat.

But if you follow the above advice, your cat will be happy to use her litter box and won’t have to resort to other places (like your bed)!

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