How to Get a Litter Box

A litter box is not just your pet's toilet, it's a space for them to feel safe and protected enough to do their thing.

So, you've decided to welcome a new pet into your life! In the flurry of getting the things you need, a litter box is pretty high on the list. 

A staple of pet hygiene for cat owners (and even some small dog owners!), selecting a litter box to cater to your pet's need as well as yours will take some considerations.

Why do you need one?

The litter box is the symbol of learned behavior, and the key of a cat's daily routine. Not only is it the display of successful domestication, it represents your pet's comfort zone in your home. 

Beyond a clean place to relive themselves, the litter box prevents such behavior manifesting in unwanted accidents elsewhere, as well as serving as a early detection site for potential health issues. A well-chosen litter box can facilitate all these benefits and more!

Rules of a litter box
  • The 'n+1' rule
    To speed up finding out what your pet's preferences are when it comes to litter, go by the number of pets + one extra box rule. One cat, 2 litter boxes; two cats will need 3 boxes, and so on. Not only will this give your pet options for comfortability, but also will encourage the curbing of 'toileting problems' - a common occurrence for new pets in new spaces that unfortunately hinder long-term adoption processes. In addition, your pet won't need to rush from one end of the house to the other in a potty emergency.

  • 'As long as' sizing
    The size of the litter box you're planning to get should at least be as long as your furbaby from nose to extended tail, and as wide as nose to butt. The general idea is to have space to move and dig without over spilling litter or stepping onto waste.

  • Height matters too
    This one might take a bit, but knowing what height litter box to get your pet is dependent on their personality! Some may be excited diggers, kickers, or sprayers. Younger ones might also find the litter box one more fun place to play around in. In such cases, boxes with taller sides are advisable. Older companions or those with mobility issues will require lower sides, or specialized trays for accessible entry/exit. Like previously noted, a good balance of space is best.

  • Covered or Uncovered?
    Covered might be a good way to keep litter splatter and smells more contained, but does your pet like using it? Like how some humans prefer their toilets a certain way, your pet will have a preference to have theirs open air or closed. The n+1 set up will be good to test this out!

  • Self-cleaning?
    A popular (and fancy) option nowadays is to invest in a self-cleaning litter box. While it does eliminate the effort needed to manually scoop and sift litter yourself, pets might not like this technological aid. For one, automated sifting and cleaning produces noises that are strange to your pets. Some might even avoid using it after being startled. Another possible issue is also reducing your observation needed to detect abnormalities in your pet's gut health early. Regardless, it might be a good option if you have a busy/active lifestyle with two or more pets that need the litter.
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A pet's domestic experience will be shaped by many factors, as your home is their home too. [Image credit: Tuna, Unsplash]

Types of litter

Now to fill the box you've decided on! In deciding what litter is needed, take a look at your pet.

  • Kittens and longhaired pets would do better with non-clumping litter as their excrements have a higher chance of latching.
  • Those with asthma or recent surgeries would need a litter with low dust volume, allowing for clearer air and less debris.
  • Multiple pets would do better with odor-control or scented litter to manage higher amounts of waste throughout the day. Be careful about too strong scents however, as it may deter them from the box.

Even you matter in selecting litter, as you would want an easy cleaning and/or have sensitive sense of smells. Check out this article for a deeper breakdown of the types of litter out there, but remember to check with your local pet store for availability!

Note: Your pet's diet will also influence the litter needed. Be sure to check with your vet for potential outcomes of switching foods, and read litter bag labels for suitability.


It's good to hope your pet isn't fussy, but care still should be given for their best toilet experience in your home. [Image credit: Andrew Cornell, Unsplash]

Maintaining litter hygiene.

Choosing your pet's litter box most importantly involves your ability to maintain its hygiene. For many who can not yet afford the upkeep of a self-cleaning litter box, traditional scooping cleaning will require at minimum twice daily, or more often if needed. A rule of thumb is to clear before your pet has to hop over piles, or they might track unwanted trails as they leave!

The combination of litter box material and type of litter will influence smells too. Plastic boxes may be the most affordable, but will require cleaning more often as waste will linger. Stainless steel boxes are odor-controlling as waste does not stick, but they are often bulky and heavy.

The type of litter also may require you to perform a complete clear clean as often as every week, or can be filtered through as long as a month. Swapping out the batch of litter completely not only maintains a fresh box, but also contributes to your pet's health. Remember to empty stale litter into a trash bag. 

  • Never flush litter box residue down the toilet when swapping out the batch, even if your litter is designated as 'flushable' to avoid overload and clogging.
  • Non-flushing litter will require its own designated trash bin, for pet waste as well as its stale bits. 

Wash the litter box thoroughly with unscented dish soap and hot water to ensure a deep clean. Dry properly as to not activate the new litter bed before your pet even hops in!

There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to choosing the right litter box. Your schedule, the size of your home, and your pet's personality and traits are all pivotal in making a decision. Ensuring a good litter box for your furkid contributes to a sanitary and harmonious environment for both you and your pet.

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