While most people would agree they love their cats, they would likely also agree that they do not love the need for a litter box.
This post is about the infamous litter box. More specifically, the litter pans, litter, and scoops that I have found that help make the job of cleaning a litter box a little less of a mess.
Cat Litter Boxes & Accessories
I do almost all of my cats’ shopping online at Chewy, and have done so for years. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and offer free shipping on orders over $49. The free shipping option is huge for cat owners because cat litter is heavy! And having cat litter delivered directly to your door sure beats lugging heavy boxes or bags.
Table of Contents
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At home, my main brand of litter is Dr. Elsey’s. I have tried many of their litters including Ultra, Respiratory Relief, Clean Tracks, and Cat Attract.
I started using this brand when I had a cat that was urinating outside of the litter box. While I tried to find the source of my cats dismay with the litter box, I picked up some Cat Attract, which contains an herb attractant to help woo cats towards the box, and it worked! The only downside is that the Cat Attract version is usually a few dollars more than the other Dr. Elsey’s litter options. However, if you are dealing with urine outside of the box, its worth every penny!
After solving that issue, I switched to using either the Ultra Litter or the Clean Tracks litter. Both are very similar in texture, but without the herbal attractant mixed in. I like this brand of litter for its lack of a strong scent and it seems to track a little less than other litters. I have yet to find a litter that doesn’t track and I have tried so so many. If you have found one, please leave me a comment on this post and let me know!
I have also tried the Senior litter, but found it to be a little too fine of a litter for my cats, so I only purchased it that one time.
UPDATE: MAY 2020
The last time we went to the RV and needed litter, we were not able to find our usual brand and tried out Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Unscented Lightweight Cat Litter.
Overall, our experience was positive and I am considering switching to this litter for the condo as well.
The texture is a more sand-like texture compared to our usual cat litter. The cats took to using the litter without issue in the RV, and the finer texture seemed to track a bit less than the larger granules. That was a high priority in the close quarters of the RV!
There was still a slight litter odor even though it is unscented, but I have found that to be the case with every litter I have tried. But it does not have an added scent trying to mask the litter box odors.
My favorite thing about this Arm & Hammer Lightweight litter is how lightweight it actually is compared to other litters.
UPDATE: JULY 2020
Due to this site’s affiliation with Chewy.com, my cats and I were given the opportunity to try out a free box of a new cat litter, Fresh Step with Gain Original Scent.
As you can see from my other cat litter recommendations, I had been only using unscented cat litter thinking that my cats would not respond well to anything with a scent. Since I was under no obligation to write a positive review if my cats and I did not like the product and I could help provide constructive criticism to the product developers if that ended up being the case, I decided to give it a try
So you can imagine my surprise, when after a 4 DAY comparison test, my cats had used Fresh Step with Gain cat litter more than their original unscented cat litter.
I was also pleasantly surprise at how much I liked this cat litter as well! I was expecting a strong chemical scent every time the litter was poured, scooped, or scratched. That was not the case at all. The litter had a light, pleasant scent. I was also expecting the scent to attempt to mask the odors, but not really eliminate them. In other words, I expected to smell Gain + Ammonia, but that also did not happen. I smelled less “litter box” smells using Fresh Step with Gain than I did with the unscented litters.
Other positives included less tracking, it was easier for me to scoop, and a reasonable amount of litter for the weight.
I absolutely plan to continue to purchase Fresh Step with Gain Original Scent!
Litter Boxes: Pans / Trays
Nowadays, for litter boxes, I usually opt for a less expensive plastic litter pan so I can change them out every so often. I extend their life with the occasional complete dump and wash, but eventually they have to be replaced. For male cats I prefer the high sided litter pans, and for senior kitties I prefer lower side pans. I am currently using the Van Ness Cat Litter pans because I like the price, and can have them delivered along with my regular food and litter purchases from Chewy.com. They come in a variety of sizes from kitten to chonk, and different shapes such as a corner litter pan and pans with higher sides. I currently keep 3 of these large litter trays: one is out in the open and the other two are inside of litter box cabinets. (Enclosed litter box cabinets not usually recommended for multi-cat households.)
When we travel or for the occasional quarantine or crate situation I always keep a few of the Nature’s Miracle Disposable litter boxes on hand. These also come in a few sizes. The middle size comes in a 3 pack.
There was one point many years ago where I tried an automatic litter box. One of my cats had no issue using the box, but my other one was scared of it and started eliminating right outside of the box. Considering that thing cost me over $100 at a time where I really didn’t have that kind of money to be spending on something for a cat to crap in, I was not happy. So, I begrudgingly went back to regular litter boxes because I wasn’t happy cleaning poo off the floor either.
DIY Plastic Container Litter Boxes
As I previously mentioned, there was a period of time when we were dealing with cats urinating outside of the litter box. We had 5 cats at the time, and brought in a cat behaviorist (Ingrid Johnson – Fundamentally Feline) to help us troubleshoot the issue. One of the things she recommended was creating a DIY litter box out of a giant plastic storage container like you find at Wal-mart or Home Depot.
At the time, we were still in our large house in the suburbs, so having the room for multiple large litter boxes was not an issue. We took the plastic containers without the lid, and cut down one of the sides so that the cats could easily step into the box. They were great for our larger cats, and helped the cats feel less likely to be ambushed while using the box since it was clear and they could see out. I do not doubt that these DIY litter boxes helped us solve our potty time problems.
That litter mat in the photo is just a scrap of carpet that we purchase in the remnants area at Home Depot and cut to our preferred size.
Check Out This Great Post by Ingrid Johnson of Fundamentally Feline with additional photos, details, & reasons to try this DIY Litter Box project
Litter Box Furniture
Yes, I realize I just linked to an article describing the importance of large/clear litter boxes for cat well-being and keeping poo off your floor… BUT when we downsized to an apartment with less than 1000 square feet we decided to give some of that discrete cat furniture a try. (Sorry, Ingrid!) That being said, if we start having issues with cats going outside the box, we know exactly why and what we need to do. AND we do still have one uncovered large litter box. (Take a wild guess which one is their favorite – yeah, the large uncovered one.)
So, if you have a single cat household and cats that are not too particular about litter box accommodations, here are some litter box furniture options to check out.
In our living room we have a litter box cabinet from The Refined Feline. This cabinet is very well made and features a hidden top drawer and carbon filter slots on the back. I also have nothing but positive things to say about the customer service at The Refined Feline. This cabinet generally only has an opening on one side of the cabinet. This was a concern for me since a cat can easily become trapped inside if one of his cat housemates decides to be a jerk and stalk the one and only opening. Once that happens you risk the cat becoming fearful of the litter box and using the floor instead. So, I reached out to the people at The Refined Feline and ordered a replacement part (an additional side with an opening) to see if I could make it work as a 2 opening cabinet. They helped me order the exact part I was looking for, and even followed up with me to see how it went since I was the first one to try the modification and they thought others may also be interested. Lucky for me, it worked out great. We have been using the cabinet for over a year, and have not had any issues.
In our bedroom we have a white litter box cabinet for our older cat that we separate when we are not at home. I do not recall the exact brand or model of this litter box cabinet, but I am attaching a link to one that looks exactly like it. I cannot speak towards this specific model, but it would function the same way as the one we have. The feature that I really like about this style is the divided section that I use to store a box of litter and a scoop. This litter cabinet only has one opening because I was not as concerned about multiple exit routes. When we do have the bedroom door open all of the cats visit this box as well, even the one I thought would be hesitant. He just keeps his head sticking out of the hole.
Litter Box Mats
For over a year we were using a woven style litter box mat in the hopes they would reduce tracking. I had the Frisco Half Moon Litter Mat outside of our litter box with one opening, and I was using the much larger Caldwell’s Original Cat Litter Mat underneath our larger open litter pan. The woven texture of these mats does a pretty good job at trapping the litter. Sometimes a little too good, trapping litter in the weave.
In our RV we have 2 sizes of the Petlinks Purrfect Paws Litter Mat, which has deeper grooves than the woven mats.
In our previous house, we had 2 of the Moonshuttle Black Hole Litter Mats. I liked these a lot, as they did help with litter tracking and the litter was very easy to clean off of them. They were a little too big for our needs in the condo, so that is how I ended up trying the smaller woven mats.
UPDATE: MARCH 2020
The downside to the woven mats is that they trap litter to the point that you cannot clean the litter out of the mat. Eventually, they start to retain a litter odor. We also decided that going smaller was not a good option for us. It was more aesthetically pleasing in the smaller space, but it did not help control the litter tracking as well as larger mats.
We are now trying out 2 new litter mats that are larger and of a different style than the woven mats we were using previously. They are the Exquisicat Pocketed Cat Litter Mat and the PetFusion ToughGrip Litter Mat.
We are already noticing an improvement in the odor around the litter box after removing our other litter mats that we kept for way too long. They do not last forever, unfortunately. Of the two, the Exquisicat Pocketed Cat Litter Mat seems to be trapping the litter a little better that the PetFusion, but that could be because the PetFusion Mat is located at our most frequented cat litter box.
So far, I am pleased with both of these purchases. I would recommend these types of litter mats over the woven texture style mats we were using before. The tracking is definitely down in our house compared to the other mats, and they are easier to clean.
The Exquisicat Pocketed Cat Litter Mat is similar to the Black Hole Litter Mat that we had in our previous house. It has a honeycomb type upper layer that the litter falls through, then a smoother lower layer on the bottom. The litter is trapped in that pocket, and then you can dump the litter out easily.
The PetFusion ToughGrip Litter Mat is a typical one-piece ridged litter mat. This seems like it would be easy to dump the litter off and wipe down. We chose the XL size to try under our largest litter box.
At the end of the day, anything you can find to stick around the litter box to help cut down on litter tracking is great. We have even used scraps of carpet and old towels at times. Just be prepared to eventually toss those items out when they start to retain the dusty odor of the cat litter.
Other Litter Box Necessities
My favorite litter box scoop is the DurAnimals DuraScoop Original Cat Litter Scoop. This sturdy aluminum scoop gets the job done without bending. The handle makes the scoop more comfortable to use. I have had these scoops for over a year and have not had any issues with warping or rusting. I keep 2 of these scoops at the condo and 1 in the RV.
While we are not currently using a Litter Genie, we did use one for many years and found it to be quite convenient. The reason we stopped using them was because we found ourselves going through the bags very quickly with 5 cats. When you have a lot of cats you lose the convenience of having to empty the container every few days. If you are emptying the bag almost every time you are scooping boxes anyway, it is not cost effective or time reducing to use a litter genie. However, I would recommend one to anyone with 1-3 cats. That being said, at the time we stopped using one, there was only one size of litter genie on the market. They now offer a Litter Genie XL, but I have not tried it yet.
Instead, I scoop the cat boxes daily (or try to at least if we are being honest), and I use plastic bags that I get from the grocery store or other retailers. My favorite are probably target plastic bags due to their size and weight. I usually double up traditional grocery bags from Kroger/Publix/Etc.
Deodorizers, Liners, Bags, Etc.
So, the only thing I really use to take care of my cats litter box needs on a daily basis is the scoop and plastic grocery bags.
I do not use litter pan liners because I find them to be annoying. Pretty sure the cats don’t like them either. I also do not use any litter box deodorizers. Since cats are quite particular about scent marking, I am worried my cats will be turned off by deodorizers and other foreign scents near their litter box, and the last thing I want them to do is find an alternate place to do their business. .
Cats are funny creatures, and litter boxes are one of those necessary evils if you have an indoor only cat. Well, unless you have one of those cats that accepted toilet training or you have come up with another creative way of dealing with the issue.
But even though no one likes dealing with a litter box, worse yet is dealing with a cat that has decided its bathroom situation is less than ideal and finds a nice rug or pile of clothing to handle its business.
Generally speaking, cats prefer an uncovered, large, open, unscented litter box to use when nature calls.
While I do think the products I have listed here are great, and have worked for me during decades of cohabitating with multiple cats, it is only with trial and error that you can figure out what works for your cat. And with that, I can only wish you the best of luck!
Have friends with cats? Share this page on social media!
Looking for More Cats? Check Out These Posts:
Review of Fresh Step Cat Litter with Gain Original Scent
NEW PRODUCT LAUNCHED JULY 2020 Fresh Step Cat Litter – Gain Original Scent A Review Through this sites affiliation with Chewy.com, my cats and I
Review of Java Cats Cat Café
Review of Java Cats Cat Cafe – Atlanta, Georgia
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Best Cat Beds & Cat Trees
Best Cat Beds and Cat Trees
Let’s Talk Litter Boxes
Cat Litter Boxes, litter, and litter box accessories
While some of the links on this page are affiliate links, All of the recommendations in this post are 100% authentic from personal use… well, my cats’ personal use. If you decide you would like to order something from Chewy.com or another online retailer mentioned, please follow the links included in this post so that I may receive a small commission for my recommendation at no additional cost to you. Thank you!