Should You Use a Covered Litter Box?

Posted on 05 Jun 2016 19:46 by EricT

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Lots of people imagine that a covered litter box makes kitty feel safer when they are using it. It's a nice cozy place there they can have privacy, and feel protected. That's the rationalization, but the practical reason for using a covered box is because the enclosure helps control odor and the high sides help contain litter and urine spray.

Cats have work to do in the litter box. They have to rearrange and keep everything just-so. The must move around litter to make spots for containing and burying poop and pee. Some cats are better at this than others. And, some cats are so diligent, or over-diligent in the litter box maintenance that they end up kicking litter all over the place, including outside the box all over the floor. My little male cat, Petey, will remove a couple of cups of litter from the box if everything doesn't seem "level" enough for him. He likes a nice flat litter surface to walk on.

Is a covered litter box best for a cat or should you use an uncovered one?

So, litter going everywhere is a problem. Another problem is urine spray. Ideally, you cat will make a nice little hole, pee into the hole, and carefully cover up the pee. Petey, mentioned above, is the world-champ urine-ball maker. He makes perfect little round balls of pee, each in their own separate spot, ready for easy scooping.

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Other cats, not so much. They may or may not make a hole. They may or may not bury it. As well, female cats, if they are not satisfied with the conditions of the litter box, perhaps because you have not scooped often enough, they may not aim their urine down into the litter, but keep their butts up and end up spraying the litter on the side, or over the sides, of the box! Cat urine is something no cat person wants on any surface other than inside the litter box, preferably contained within the litter. It is a highly-concentrated ammonia smelling mess that can ruin materials and leave a smell that is difficult to get out.

It helps to use the proper amount of litter in the box. But, covered litter boxes may seem like a good solution to messy problems. They present their own problem for your cat, though.



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Covered litter boxes help keep the litter and the pee inside, sure. However, as above, they also keep the odor inside. You may not want the odor inside, but imagine being a cat and having to crawl inside a little odor-concentrating cave? Smells better to you outside the box, but your cat now has to endure the concentrated smell of ammonia and poop.

As well, rather than making a cat feel protected and satisfying some need for privacy, it may make her feel trapped. She may not think you are going to attack her while she is in the litter box (although who knows what a cat is thinking?) but if you have more than one cat, your cat may feel trapped just when she is at her most vulnerable. Cat's don't like to be backed into a corner. They want multiple points of egress, ideally. A covered litter box may be causing problems for your cat.

But you do need a solution to keep everything that is supposed to be inside the litter box inside the litter box.

You can look for a litter box with high sides, as long as your cat is agile and large enough to be able to get into and out of the box easily. Most high sided boxes will still have a lowered area on one side to help you cat get into and out of. This is the problem area, litter or pee may still make their way out. But the high sides all around can sure help.

Another solution is a litter box that is more of a combo of a covered litter box and a high-sided one. Basically, it's an open-top shielded box. This can be good because you can remove the shields for easy cleaning without necessarily having to clean the whole litter box. A couple of options are shown here, including the Two Meows Cat Litter Box With Kitty Litter Scatter Control and the IRIS Open Top Litter Box with Shield.

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