The Essentials of Cat Litter Trays Providing your cat with an inviting litter tray that can be used comfortably and without stress can help reduce the change of stress-related disease such as cystitis. You will also reduce your chance of finding ‘accidents’ (which are rarely accidents!). To provide a suitable litter tray, you either need to really THINK LIKE A CAT, or you could just read this article!
This article is just a summary of the 7 essential tips. If you find cat behaviour interesting, we suggest this book for further entertaining reading, or read our review ‘The 6 Best Books on Cat Behaviour’ HERE.
1/ WHAT CAT LITTER?
Soft, small-grit, sandy litter is favoured because it is comfortable and soft on a cat’s sensitive pays. No or little scent is ideal – cats have a very sensitive sense of smell and a litter tray that has a strong smell (either perfume or waste products) is not attractive. Rather than rely on scented litter, scoop the litter tray twice daily or as often as you can – the cleaner the better!
2/ LITTER TRAY DESIGN
An open litter tray, or a closed-lid system? If you had a sense of smell as sensitive as a cat, would you want to toilet in a tiny enclosed box? And risk another cat pouncing on you when there’s only one exit? Particularly if you have more than one cat, your cat must feel like they can escape easily when toileting, as this is a time when they feel very vulnerable. It only takes one occasion of feeling unsafe for your cat to be put off from using the tray entirely.
Do not use litter tray liners. They can cause urine-pooling and odour, and are not an alternative to scooping litter or cleaning out the trays regularly.
3/ HOW MANY LITTER TRAYS?
You need at least the same number of boxes as you have cats – preferably plus one extra. Three cats? Have 4 litter trays if possible, 3 minimum.
4/ LITTER DEPTH
Keep the litter depth consistently at about 3 inches. It needs to be deep enough for urine not to pool on the bottom of the tray.
5/ SCOOP, SCOOP AND SCOOP AGAIN!
Scoop the tray at least twice daily. This really doesn’t take long so there’s no excuse for not doing it. Get into the habit of doing it at least twice daily – would you use an unflushed toilet?!
6/ CLEAN THE BOX MONTHLY – AND REPLACE THE BOX AS NEEDED
If you are using clumping (scoopable) litter, all the litter should be chucked out once or twice a month and the entire box cleaned thoroughly. If you are not using clumping litter, do this at least weekly. If, after cleaning, the box still smells, get a new one. When cats scratch plastic, tiny indentations make perfect homes for odour-producing bacteria, so litter trays do not last forever!
7/ LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Litter trays should all be in different areas, no clumped in the same place. This means lower-ranking or shy cats do not feel threatened when they use a tray. The trays should be AWAY FROM FOOD AND WATER – would you want a toilet in a kitchen?!