For litterbox-trained pets (cats and rabbits especially), new pet owners might wonder how to encourage a cat to use the litterbox, how many you should have, and general care for toileting needs. Since many pets end up in shelters due to toilet issues, we’ve broken down what you should know in this litterbox 101.
Size. In general, the bigger, the better. It should be about 1.5 times the length of your cat’s full-grown, adult size. Some cats might not like the lid as it keeps the odor concentrated inside (great for humans!) which can translate to feelings of being cramped or trapped. More gentle-natured cats will become startled by automatic ones when they activate, so you might need to stick to an old-school, stationary one.
Number. How many litterboxes should you have? One per cat, plus an extra, and at least one per floor of your home. Ideally, you want your cat to have one close by, regardless of where they are. For the more fastidious cat, they might choose to urinate in one and have their bowel movement in another.
Location. To avoid startling your cat while they are using the bathroom, keep litterboxes away from machinery, in quiet spots. Also, keep them away from their food and water or high traffic areas. Cats who get interrupted might feel unsafe and refuse to use the litterbox.
Litter. Opt for perfume-free as cats have powerfully strong olfactory senses, and use a soft, sandy one. Clumping versions make for easy scooping, and replace litter to maintain a constant depth which will allow them to bury their bowel movements. Three to four
inches of depth should suffice.
Scooping. Scoop frequently, every day if possible, as cats are particular and might refuse to use the litterbox if it’s dirty. This will also avoid odors wafting throughout your home.
With a litterbox that does not smell, is kept relatively clean, and provides a safe, quiet space for your cat to do their business, your cat is likely to happily use it consistently. If they stop abruptly or begin having accidents, talk to your vet, but make sure the litterbox is not contributing to the problems.