Litter Boxes – the Continuing Saga

Does anyone with cats not hate their little box? If so, let me know your secret!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cats, but I HATE litter boxes. They smell, litter scatters everywhere, it’s dusty, the cats don’t want to use the box, etc. Depending on the day, I have all these complaints and more.

With three indoor cats in the house, litter boxes are always an issue. Most recently, I’ve kept two large boxes downstairs, and a third up in my laundry room. It has worked out pretty well, except that for some reason, the cats were peeing in the upstairs litter box, but pooping just in front of it, and not in it. It drives me absolutely crazy. I’ve tried different boxes, various kinds of litter, even different trays under the litter box. No matter what combination I chose, pee goes in the box, poop goes in front of it.

Yesterday, the clouds parted, the sun shone through, and I realized something! With the two boxes downstairs that are side by side, the cats usually poop in one and pee in the other, not always, but most of the time. Upstairs, they only have one box. Maybe that is why they pee in the box and poop in front of it? Could the fix possibly be that simple? Two litter boxes in my laundry room is definitely not ideal, but it’s better than cleaning up poop from the tray in front of the box all the time.

My garage stash had an extra litter box, so I put it upstairs next to the other box. Imagine my surprise when I checked it this morning and there was poop IN THE LITTER BOX!  Woot! Small victory for me. Also, win for the cats, because now they have two boxes upstairs which is apparently what they wanted. Does anyone else have cats that poop in one box and pee in the other?

I’ve given up on fancy boxes. Downstairs where I have plenty of room, the litter boxes are actually $7 cement mixing trays from the hardware store. They work great! Cheap enough to easily replace them when they get gross. Deep enough to help contain the litter, and the insides are rounded, so they are super easy to scoop. Upstairs I’m just using two plain plastic litter boxes.

My new favorite litter is OKO Cat brand. It’s made from wood, there’s no noticeable dust. With my old clay litter, I realized I would cough when cleaning the box, not good. No coughing with the new litter. The switch was very gradual, I mixed a little of the new litter in with the old and just kept adding more of the new litter until there wasn’t any more clay litter. The cats don’t seem to have any problems with it. I found this litter by accident. Although I’m usually well stocked on pet supplies, I ran out of cat litter a couple of months ago. The local hardware store only had the OKO Cat brand, so that’s what I bought. It’s been great! I did try their long haired cat version, but it was more like a pellet, and while it did track a little less, the pellets were harder to suck up with the vacuum, the cats didn’t like it, and I seemed to go through a lot of litter.

For the moment, there’s peace in my litter box world. I do want to try one of the fancy robotic litter boxes one of these days, but I’m not sure one of them would be all that helpful, and I’m not buying 3-4, $400+ litter boxes. My $7 boxes work just fine!

Anyone have any good tips for litter boxes? Types of boxes or litter that you really like? How about the LitterRobot any thoughts? Like it? Worth the money?

WePet Litter Mat

With three cats in the house, one of them a Maine Coon with long hair, there is always litter everywhere. I’ve got four litter boxes. One is a Breeze box which actually isn’t too messy, but the cats don’t love it. They use it to pee, but that’s it. It has a pelleted litter in the top with a slatted bottom, so the urine goes into the bottom tray where there is an easy-to-change pad. The pelleted litter is great because it doesn’t scatter as much as grainier litter, but after months of using it, my cats still don’t love it.

I’ve tried a bunch of different types of pelleted litter, paper ones, pine ones, it doesn’t seem to matter, the cats hate it. They have some not-so-subtle ways of showing me their displeasure with the pellets. I’ve decided to let them win. I’ll have to find another way to stop the spread of the litter from the regular cat boxes, and just let them have their standard clumping litter.

I’ve got the three cat boxes in washing machine trays. They are great because they are big enough to hold the entire litter box, and have some room for the cats to step in and out of the box from on the tray. They are easy to clean up as well. The problem is the cats love to dig, and when they dig the litter flies. Even with the litter in the washing machine trays. The trays are just hard plastic, so the litter still scatters. The rug outside of the trays ends up feeling like a sandbox if I don’t vacuum every day.

The current set up

My next idea was to add litter mats to the trays. The ones I’m using now are by WePet. I had been using one of their mats upstairs, and now I bought two more for the downstairs cat boxes. So far they seem to be helping. There are a lot of features I like about these mats and I hope they continue to work out.

The WePet mat I bought was pretty inexpensive, about $11 on Amazon. The low price was definitely what tempted me to buy my first one, now I’ve purchased three! They are a good size, big enough to cover a decent sized area in front of the box for the cats to step in and out.

I also like the material they are made of.  It’s a soft mesh that seems like it would be comfortable on the kitty paws while still managing to help collect the litter. I’ve found the one I have been using upstairs easy to clean. I just shake it out, and occasionally run the vacuum over it. I haven’t had to wash it, but I’m guessing it would wash fine in the tub and I could easily hang it to dry.

The mats seem to hold litter well, they are slip resistant, making it easy for the cats to jump in and out of their boxes. For some reason, the cats like scratching at these, and so far they haven’t done any damage to the mats, so I guess that is another bonus.

I’ll make sure to post an update when I’ve had a chance to use these mats longer to see how they hold up downstairs with the three litter boxes.