So you’ve just brought your new kitty home (or you’re about to get one) and you need to find an appropriate cat litter box for it. Or perhaps you’ve already got cats, but you need to find another box for your new kitty. Which is the right one to choose?
Well, you’ve got just about as many different types of litter boxes on the market as you can think of. There are boxes that are simple, open pans, boxes that are covered, ones that have second “bottoms” where you can shake out soiled clumps so that you don’t have to scoop, electronic litter boxes, and the list goes on.
First and foremost, it should be easy to clean. That’s probably the most important consideration long-term. Of course, if your kitten is very tiny, you’re going to want to get something at least temporarily that’s either very small or has a cut down side so that even the smallest of kittens can get in. This, of course, will change as your kitten grows, since almost every full-grown cat can jump in a standard litter box, but it’s going to be something you need at least at the start.
Remember, cats by their very nature are very clean creatures and need an excruciatingly clean box at all times. But it’s not only good for the cat, it’s good for you as well. Not only does this help you with odor control in your own home, but it will help keep kitties “faithful” to their box so that you’re not cleaning up messes elsewhere.
The most inexpensive and yet practical way to keep your cat box clean at all times is probably to use scoopable litter. There are many different varieties of scoopable clumping litter on the market, many very reasonably priced. What makes scoopable litter a good choice for most cats is that it can be poured to a depth of several inches in the box, but the litter itself never gets “dirty.” Instead, waste is instantly encapsulated in hard clumps, so that they can be easily scooped out. This means that your entire box stays endlessly clean for the most part, saving you the chore of having to scrub out your litter box more than a few times a year as long as you’re faithful about scooping it several times a day.
Just about any cat box will do for a scoopable litter, but for both anesthetic purposes and because cats like privacy, a hooded box is probably the best option for most cats. This means that the sights of the litter box itself are kept out of view, and it can help reduce litter scatter as well. The box itself should be at least 6 to 8 inches deep to help contain litter, more if you have multiple cats or if your cat is very large. This type of box comes in both regular and extra-large sizes.
Some of these boxes come with a second “bottom” that is actually a grate you can pull up and sift clumps out with, but oftentimes, these are more trouble than they’re worth because they can be messy to use. Simply getting a good heavy-duty scoop (made of metal instead of plastic) is a better option for most people.
Of course, there are much more inexpensive options, and even a simple small dishpan will do if your cat is small and you plan to change litter often. If you choose an uncovered litter box, you should probably keep it well out of the way, since in some cases, sights and smells from it can be unsavory. This is especially useful if you have a basement or some other out-of-the-way place where you plan to keep the box, instead of someplace such as the bathroom that gets lots of traffic. In this case, it may be helpful to use litter box liners (or as a much more inexpensive option, garbage bags). By using liners or garbage bags to line your box with, you can use a very small amount of litter in your small litter pan, but change it every day. This is really no more expensive than scooping litter every day is, but it means that you don’t have to scoop it and can simply change the whole box frequently.
Finally, there are some relatively newfangled electronic litter boxes on the market that some cat owners swear by. They are convenient because they automatically scoop soiled litter clumps out of the pan and into a receptacle as soon as your cat leaves the box. The drawback is that they are quite expensive (usually over $100 as compared to under $20 for most covered litter boxes), they can break down, and some cats may be so spooked by the automatic rake used to clean the clumps of litter out of the box that they won’t go in the box, which renders it useless. You must also buy a very good quality scoopable clumping litter to use these boxes, since less expensive clumping litters produce clumps that break open, thus soiling the entire box and the rake as well, so that you have to scrub it out.
For the most part, a relatively inexpensive, sturdy plastic box with a hood is going to be your best bet when it comes to getting a cat litter box. For best results, have one box for every cat in your household, more than that if your house is very large and you need to place litter boxes in several locations.