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3 Types of Litter Boxes: How to Choose the Best Litter Tray for Your Cat

types of litter boxes
cat litter alternatives

Let’s look at the types of litter boxes on the market. We’ll help you decide which litter tray is best for your cats and home!

When it comes to owning a cat, a litter box is a necessity. Cats are clean animals and can be kept indoors without a litter box, as long as they are regularly let outside into a secure garden. Many people decide to purchase a litter box to avoid the cat soiling the house even if their kitten has access to an outdoor area.

I have been researching all of the different types of litter boxes available for cats. There are many different designs, shapes, and sizes available. The critical thing to consider when purchasing a litter box is that your cat needs to be comfortable using it; therefore, choose the one that best fits your cat’s size.

It’s best to place the litter box in an area that your cat uses regularly. However, you may like to create a private toilet area for your cat, either in a laundry room or your bathroom. Let’s discuss the types of litter boxes available.

Types of Litter Boxes

There are three main types of litter boxes and many variations. The main kinds are open-topped litter trays, an enclosed box, or an automatic litter box. Let’s discuss each type in more detail.

1. Litter Trays

Open topped litter trays are usually rectangular or square-shaped; however, there are also circular ones available. These are the cheapest and most popular types of litter boxes. The entrance to the litter box is usually at the side, and there is no hood. The size and location of the opening can be a significant determinant of whether or not your cat will use it, so choose one that allows easy access for your cat.

cat litter alternatives

Variations

Litter tray with inclined sides

This type of litter box has slanted sides so your cat can easily get in and out. These boxes are great for older cats who have joint problems.

litter tray with inclined sides
Disposable paper litter trays

Disposable litter boxes are made out of corrugated paper or recycled cardboard. With these products, you often don’t have to use litter but instead can line the box with a special lining that absorbs the urine. A disposable box can be thrown away after use. This type of litter box is chemical-free and environmentally friendly. It’s also dust-free, which is important if you have people with asthma in your family or if your cat often sneezes when digging in standard cat litter.

Corner Litter Tray

Corner litter trays are triangle shaped and fit neatly into the corner of your room. These are great if you want to keep your litter box area hidden and out of the way.

Advantages of a litter tray

  • Inexpensive and readily available from pet shops and online stores.
  • Very easy to clean; the litter can simply be scooped out. 
  • Open-top boxes can be easily moved around your home.

Disadvantages of a litter tray

  •  Your cat might not like the entrance, so choose one that allows easy access. 
  • Open-top litter boxes can be stressful for cats who prefer more privacy
  • As these types of trays aren’t covered, the odor may be more obvious 

2. Enclosed Litter Boxes

The second most popular type of litter box is the enclosed box; this type has a cover, which will give your cat more privacy while using it. They are usually made out of plastic or wood and are either round or square. Enclosed litter boxes typically come in two different sizes, one for kittens and one for adult cats. If you choose the wrong size, it can cause stress to your cat, or they might even refuse to use it.

Enclosed litter boxes have an entrance either on the front of the top. Often the opening is covered by a flap that stops cat litter and odor from escaping into the room.

cat litter alternatives

Variations

High backed litter boxes

This type of litter box is very similar to an enclosed litter box, but it has a higher back. The entrance to the litter box is usually on the front side of the box. They are recommended for larger breeds or cats that like more privacy while using the litter box.

Low fronted litter boxes

Low fronted litter boxes are a new type of litter box on the market. They are very similar to a regular closed litter box; only the entrance is lower and on the front side of the box. Cats that might have problems with arthritis can benefit from this new design as it makes it easier for them to use their litter box without having to jump up.

Extra-large front-entry litter box

This type of litter box is recommended for those who have multiple cats or very large breeds. It has a larger entrance and an overall bigger size than the other types of litter boxes. The main benefit of this kind of litter box is that it provides more space, making it easier for your cat to move around and do their business in private.

Advantages of an enclosed litter box

  • Easy to clean; most have removable covers, which makes raking out litter straightforward.
  • Good for cats that like privacy.

Disadvantages of enclosed litter boxes

  • If you choose the wrong size, it can cause stress to your cat, or they might even refuse to use it.
  • More expensive than open-top litter boxes.
  • Some have steep ramps leading to the entrance and are not recommended for older cats. Choose a low entry box for cats with joint problems or arthritis. 

3. Automatic, self-cleaning litter box

This type of litter box was designed to separate the clumps from the clean litter automatically. Each time your cat uses the litter box, the waste will be automatically swept into a tray underneath the box. This helps keep your home less messy reduces odour and makes cleaning a lot more convenient.

Advantages of an automatic litter box

  •  Separates the clumps from the clean litter, making it easier to clean up after your cat.
  • Robot cat litter boxes reduce nasty smells.

Disadvantages of an automatic litter box

  • A lot more expensive than other types of litter boxes.

Factors of consideration when choosing a litter box

Litter box size

The size of the container is important for several reasons. First, it needs to be large enough to allow the cat some degree of movement inside. A very confined space will encourage cats to ‘go’ outside the box because they prefer not to sit in their own waste. A box needs to be tall enough for the cat to get in and out easily. The litter box should also be large enough front-to-back so that the cat can turn around when inside, yet small enough so that it can be tipped on its side if necessary for cleaning.

Where to place the litter box

where to place the litter box

The best place for a litter box is usually in an area where the cat spends most of his time. Common areas include the laundry room, near the cat’s bed, and near their food dishes. The litter box should be in an area that is easily accessible to your cat without exposing it to too much activity. Putting your litter box in a noisy location such as near the washing machine may intimidate your cat. If you also have a dog, place the litter box somewhere that’s out of reach, so your cat feels more secure.

Cleaning

Another important factor when choosing a litter box is how easy it is to clean. Litter boxes should be scooped regularly and cleaned out entirely every week, more often if needed. If your cat has access to multiple rooms or you own more than one cat, place several litter boxes in different locations.

Other essential items

litter mat

As well as buying a litter box, you’ll need a scoop for cleaning. Ensure you choose one that’s suitable for use with the type of litter you use.

A litter mat can also be a good idea as this will stop your cat from walking dirty litter through your home.

Some people also buy deodorizing sprays to improve the smell of the cat’s toilet area. This generally isn’t necessary, as long as you clean up after your cat daily.

Guidelines for creating a cat toilet area:

  • Place the litter box in a well-lit area, but avoid places with lots of activity, such as near the washing machine, dryer, televisions, or fish tanks.
  • Keep the box away from other pets.
  • Place a litter box on every level of the house if you have more than one floor.
  • If you find that your cat is avoiding the litter box, try moving it to a new location and increase the number of boxes in different areas. However, if this does not work, an underlying health issue may be causing behavior problems. Consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical causes.
  • If you have more than one cat, multiple boxes are recommended.
  • Try mixing clay litter with natural, softer material such as shredded paper or straw. Cat’s prefer soft textures, making it easier for their paws to dig into the litter.
  • Keep your litter box clean by scooping the poop once daily and completely cleaning it out weekly.
  • If your cat’s litter box has a hood, keep it open to encourage your cat to go inside. Hoods can be scary for some cats, resulting in them going elsewhere, such as the bathtub, laundry basket, or a houseplant.

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