Some cats are overly enthusiastic about burying their waste. Maybe they're digging to China, or maybe they're digging for buried treasure. Either way, you probably don't love all the litter they kick up, especially when it gets all over your house. Here are some tips to prevent those paws from tracking litter all over your house.
Check the litter box environment.
Some cats dig or scratch more when the litter box is dirty, when they're anxious, or when something has changed. Make sure you replace the litter once a month, or get a self-cleaning litterbox. Reduce stress in your cat's life and introduce change slowly. When trying a new brand of litter, add one cup a day to the old litter, and try to keep the litter box in the same place.
Get a litter box with a hood or a high-sided box.
Hooded boxes keep cats from flinging as much litter out. Or even better, get a box with a hood and a door flap. For cats who won't use a hooded box, a box with higher sides is the next best thing. Keep in mind that kittens and cats with limited mobility may not be able to use a box like this.
Box with Tall Sides
- Pros: Works for cats who can’t handle hooded boxes
- Cons: Some litter can still get out
- Cons: Not good for small or disabled cats
Box with Hood
- Pros: Effective at keeping litter (and smell) contained
- Pros: Can store things on flat hoods
- Cons: Some cats don’t like hoods
Box with Hood and Swinging Door
- Pros: Very effective at keeping litter (and smell) contained
- Pros: Can store things on flat hoods
- Cons: Some cats don’t like hoods or going through the door
Put the litter box in an enclosed space, like a closet.
Carpeted spaces hold onto litter better than slick flooring in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. For added concealment, install a pet door in the closet door to keep the litter and the smell confined without reducing your cat's access.
Place a mat or piece of carpet in front of the box.
This will remove excess litter left on your cat's feet and reduce the amount of litter tracked through your house. To clean up, simply shake the litter into the trash. You can purchase rubber or plastic litter mats at most stores that sell pet products. Rug samples or scraps can be purchased for a few dollars per square foot from carpet surplus stores. Look for longer, rougher fibers rather than soft plushy ones.
Special Bonus Tips: Make Your Own Cat Bathroom
Are you crafty? Do you prefer to make things rather than buy them? These next tips are for people who like do-it-yourself projects.
- Place the litter box inside a low-sided cardboard or plastic tray. When your cat steps out of the litter box, he should step into the lid or tray first, which will help remove some of the litter from his paws. Warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club and grocery stores often have free cardboard boxes. Large plastic container lids would also work. Replace them as often as needed.
- Make a tent out of a plastic bin. First, measure your cat and your litter box (height and width). Purchase a plastic bin that it is tall enough for your cat to stand in comfortably and wide enough to cover the entire litter box. Flip the bin upside down on top of the litter box. Now cut a hole slightly taller and wider than your cat. The entrance hole can be in the side like a traditional litter box hood or on the top. If you cut it on the top, make sure the bin is strong enough to hold your cat's weight, and that the hole is in a place where your cat can jump right into the litter. If you're extra crafty, you can add a swinging door flap to a side entrance to reduce odor and litter flinging. Use metal fasteners covered with duct tape to secure a piece of cloth or other flexible material over the entrance.
- Try a concealed litter box. For the ultimate option in hidden kitty waste management, place the box in a planter, cabinet, or trunk. If you can fit a litter box in it, you can make it a concealed litter box. Buy one or make your own. Get creative!