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When you first get a cat, your next stop is usually the pet store for cat supplies. A litter box is always high on that list, but few people think much about the box itself.
As you look at them, you might think that each box is about the same as any other. However, not all litter boxes are created equal; more to the point,Not all litter boxes are the same for all cats.
Cats can be very picky about the size, shape, depth and other characteristics of their litter box. And rightly so! Think about it, how would you like it if the bathroom you had to use every day was super small and cramped? Or if you had to climb a wall or navigate a maze to get to the bathroom? Or if the toilet accidentally flushes when you walk past it?
None of these scenarios sound fun, do they? But that's exactly how it can feel for cats whose only option is litter boxes that are too small for them, or whose sites or enclosures are too awkward to navigate.
And as for the "accidental flush" issue, that's a real problem for cats with auto-scoop litter boxes - many cats are startled by the sounds and movements that occasionally come out of their crate!
And when a cat is startled by its crate or "bothered" by its size or complexity, it's more likely to look for a less spooky and more comfortable place. Your linen or bed will do - thank you!
Would you like to avoid that and the stress that the wrong crates cause your cat? Follow these tips to ensure you find the right crate for your cat.
How Many Litter Boxes Should You Have?
Even in a one-cat household, the purchase of a litter box should not be “once”.
Everyone likes to have options, and for many reasons it's a good idea to give your cat the same when it comes to where to pee and poop.
The general rule is to have one more litter box than you have cats - this is called a litter box"n+1 Rule."For example 2 cats = 3 litter boxes and so on.
Insufficient litter boxes are a common cause of many "litter box problems" that result in cats being taken to the vet or abandoned at shelters.
How big the litter box should be
This is perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a litter box for your cat. Narrow quarters are no fun for anyone!
Make sure the litter boxes you choose are appropriatebig enough for your cat to fit comfortably, with some room to cut out.
You should have enough space to move around and rummage around without having to get out. There should be enough space for them to easily avoid any "deposits" still left from previous visits.
As a general rule, the litter box should be the right sizeat leastas long as your cat, from nose to tip of tail (when undressed), and how wide it should beat leastas wide as your cat is long (not including the extended tail).
Preventive vet kitty Mazel loves using thisXL Tidy Cat Breeze litter box system, and his mom loves that it's easy to clean and controls odorsReallyAlso.
It's not the cheapest option, but it really does keep bad smells at bay, and there's no messy junk going everywhere.
At most, a few pellets will come out of the crate, but they're easy to throw in the trash or, if clean, straight back into the crate.
How high the sides of the litter box should be
The height of the side walls of the boxes is also a very important thing to consider. And your cat's personality and "condition" will determine in part the height of boxes they need.
- Best box height for most cats:For cats that aren't "sprayers" or don't routinely throw litter out of their boxes, a box with walls about 5-7 inches high is usually great (especially if the box is large). Check out my recommendation for thosebest general litter box for general useunder.
- Best box height for "Sprayer" and more:If you have a "sprayer," "kicker," or cat with poor aim in your "clowder" (the official name for a group of cats), then the sides should be high enough to minimize the risks of these unwanted habits; But of course, your cat still needs to be able to get in and out of their crates easily and without pain.
So look for boxes with three sides that are high enough to prevent urine, feces, or trash from hitting your floor (typically wall heights of around 8 to 12 inches are good), but that also have a lower entry/exit side have to get in and out easily (this side should be about 5-6 inches). See below for mineLitter box recommendations for "sprayers", "kickers" and those with bad aim.
- Best box height for mobility issues:If you have a young kitten or similarCats with arthritis or other mobility issues, then you definitely need boxes with at least one sidesuperlow. For most of these cats, an entry/exit side of about 2.5 to 3.5 inches usually provides a good balance of allowing your cat easy entry and exit while still being able to hold litter inside. Check out mineLitter box recommendation for young kittens and arthritic catsat the end of this article.
How to choose between covered and uncovered litter boxes
There is no definitive answer here.Some cats prefer an open box; others not. Of course, there is no telling which “camp” your cat will fall into.
So feel free to either head here or give it a try by giving your cat a selection of boxes to choose from. Just be ready to adjust if your cat starts giving you cues of a clear preference one way or another.
If you go the "covered" route, just make sure the opening isn't too small or difficult to access, and be prepared to switch to open crates if your cat ever develops asthma or arthritis.
Why you should avoid self-cleaning litter boxes
There are many self-cleaning boxes on the market now, and it can be tempting to spend a little extra money for the convenience of a box you never have to exhaust. But as inconvenient or uncomfortable as it may be to scoop up litter boxes every day, it will be far less convenient or enjoyable if your cat is startled by her automatic litter box and becomes too scared to use it.
Then add the fact that many of these self-cleaning boxes require special (read: expensive) throws; Not to mention, the daily scooping ritual of regular boxing provides an important opportunity to spot changes in your cat's urine and feces that could indicate a developing health problem (e.g., diabetes, kidney disease, constipation, or evenurinary retention).
What is the best litter box?
Best litter box overall:Oddly enough, for most cats, the "general best litter box" for general use isn't usually a conventional litter box! The most common question is actually a large plastic storage box under the bed.
They are usually long and wide enough and just the right depth. I love using thoseinnerdrawers of thoselinked here, as they have great dimensions for most cats: about 27" long, 15" wide and 4.5" tall —AndYou can get them in multi packs to save money!
For "Sprayers", "Kickers" and those with bad aim:As discussed above, these guys typically need boxes with three sides, big enough to contain the clutter, but with an entry/exit side short enough for them to get in and out easily.
Especially as a cat gets older, getting in and out of their litter box can cause more problems and a lot of discomfort (egMany cats over the age of 7 have arthritis).
These first two box options tick the box, with three tall sides and one lower.
Nature's Miracle High Sided Litter Box
Large litter box from PetFusion
You could also switch to covered boxes, but you need to be extra careful to scoop out covered boxes at least once a day, as they're more likely to trap ammonia and other odors, which can irritate your cat's nose/lungs and drive them out of the boxes.
The Modkat boxes are a little pricey but work great for many cats and households.
Modkat litter box with reusable liner
Modkat Top and Front Entry Litter Box
For very young kittens and cats with arthritis or other mobility issues:Again, the best option isn't always a traditional litter box. Planters for the garden are often the best choice!
The one linked below - which has overall dimensions of 24 inches long, 21.6 inches wide and 8 inches high, with a front entry/exit face that is only 2.5 inches high - is perfect!
KittyGoHere litter box for mobility issues
Tierra Garden organizer traycan be a great litter box for cats with mobility issues!
Of course, finding the right size, shape, type, and number of litter boxes for your cats is just the start. Cash "Litter Box 101: Setting Up and Maintaining the Litter Box' for more tips, tricks and other useful information that will help create a harmonious atmosphere in your home and avoid all kinds of problems.
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