How to have the best Litter box on the block
Licking Cat

You have a cat, and they've stopped using their box. You've done some research. You probably know all this! But, it's worth a quick read in case you've missed or forgotten something about litter box aesthetics. And if litter box aesthetics is your problem, then great! Your solution is easy.*

Litter box Checklist:

What most (but not all) cats look for in a box

  • Freshly scooped (at least daily)
  • Hoodless and liner-free
  • Filled with 2 inches of sand-like clumping unscented litter
  • There should be one more litter box than cats 
  • And one box on each level of the home
  • Private yet accessible locations
  • Space around the box to provide multiple entry points and visibility to its user
Litter Box
Litter Box 2
Litter Box

Freshly scooped. Most cats like a clean box. Many cats don't like to poop where they pee, and vice versa. It's worth noting, though, that some cats are more fastidious than others. When I was retraining Tiny, she actually had more difficulty when her litter box was extremely clean. I think she wanted it to smell like her, at least a little bit. Even now, when I put her in her box (see About Tiny to learn why I physically place her in her box) she won't pop a squat until she smells an old clump of urine. So, give a clean box a try, but if you are retraining and meeting some set backs, your box might be TOO clean. 

Hoodless and liner-free. Any cat behaviorist will tell you, hoods and liners are for people, not cats. Sure, I get not wanting litter to fly all over the place when your cat is scratching in there. I understand not wanting to scrape the old clumps off the bottom of the box when you are giving it a full cleaning. But it's much easier to solve the problem of wayward cat litter than wayward cat urine. And, hoods can trap odors that a cat may find unpleasant in the box area (Consider your last experience inside a portapotty. . . )

Filled with 2 inches of sand-like unscented clumping litter. This one is less clear cut, but it generally seems that cats do better with this kind of litter. Some cats do great with pellets. Some cats happily urinate on crystal litter. But, if you're having issues, try going back to the basics. Even better, add in some Cat Attract. Vets will tell you 2 inches is the right amount of litter, but you can experiment. For one whole year, Tiny would only urinate in an empty box!

There should be one more box than cats. Just do this one. Even if you have a small house. If, once your cat has consistently started using the box again and you want to try to get rid of an extra box, you can. But, do so at your own risk. 

And one on each level of the home. If your cat is having trouble keeping their urine in the box, this is another one you should just do. It's so much better to have a litter box on your main floor than a puddle of cat urine. 

Choose private yet accessible locations. Your cat probably doesn't want to urinate in the middle of the living room (although Tiny did.) They also don't want to squeeze into a dark closet to use their box, or wait for their turn in the family bathroom. The ideal placement of a litter box is in a spot that your cat can easily access but also isn't right in the center of your home. 

Space around the box to provide multiple entry points and visibility for its user. This is especially important if you have other cats, dogs, or young family members in your home. A cat doesn't want to feel like they could be ambushed during or immediately after relieving themselves. They want to be able to see their surroundings and confirm their safety while in their most vulnerable state. 

Remember, all cats are different. Just because you had a cat who used a hooded box, or your friend lives in a studio apartment with 4 cats who all use one box that is shoved in the hall closet and sometimes your friend even forgets and closes the door to the closet and still none of the cats ever have accidents doesn't mean that *your* cat can be trained to use an undesirable litter box set up. 

Cat Lying

* If you've read this page and you think that your litter box aesthetics may be the problem, your solution probably is easy, but also may require some Lite litter box retraining