How To Buy the Best Litter Box For Your Cat or Cats
Thanks for taking your time to read our information on how to buy the best type of litter box for your cat. If you are considering buying a litter box for your cat for the first time, or thinking about replacing your old cat litter box, then we hope this article will really help you out a lot.
There are a lot of litter boxes on the marketplace, and when we say that, we mean there are quite literally thousands of different types of models and brands to choose from.
Now that is great as competition always helps keep the price down. The downside is that with so much information available it can really get very confusing, as to which is the best cat litter box to buy for your kitten, cat or cats?
In this buying guide we explain all of the options available, so as you can decide which is the best choice for your own particular and personal circumstances.
Key Considerations for Buying a Cat Litter Box
Before even looking at the box types, there is something much more important to do. You need to investigate, and we would strongly suggest writing down, a list of the key considerations that are directly relevant to your home, and to your own personal circumstances.
If you do this, then making the right litter box choice becomes a great deal simpler.
The key considerations are:
- How many cats are you buying for? – this is very important as the golden rule for litter boxes is that you should buy one box for each cat plus one extra – if you follow that rule, then the price can quickly add up, but you have covered all the bases
- Are there small children in your home? – you will want to own a box that they can not get into, as kids, especially smaller children, will play with just about anything
- Are there other pets in the home? – Like kids household pets, especially dogs will try and get into a litter box and for some pets that can be very dangerous
- How big or small is your home? – that will determine how much space you can afford to give to a litter box, and also determine how much odor control you need to have. It will also inform you how many boxes you need ideally
- How important is odor control? – This depends on the type of litter box you own and where the litter box is located
- What type of litter boxes do cats prefer? – Cats are unique creatures and some will like one type and not the other. If you are unsure always go for a covered or hooded litter box.
- Where will the litter box or boxes be located? – That may determine your type of litter box such as a corner style or a hooded style, or even cat litter furniture
- How easy is the litter box to clean? – All cat owners will want the box to be easily accessible and to clean. There are however self-cleaning boxes and others that require manual cleaning.
- How often should the litter box be cleaned? – Poop needs to be removed daily and clumped litter also needs to be removed. If the thought of that puts you off then a self- cleaning box would be a better option.
- How will you dispose of the used cat litter? – At some stage every couple of weeks the litter needs to be fully changed. It is not the most pleasant of jobs so again a self-cleaner might be a better idea.
- How much can you afford to spend on a litter box or boxes? – These range in price from just a few dollars to a few hundred. Your budget will dictate which you can afford.
- Are you at home all the time, or do you spend time away from the home? – This final decision is simply about how much time you have to spend cleaning a litter, and how clean it can stay when you are away.
Yes we know there are a lot of questions in that list, but it really doesn’t take that long to make a few notes, and come up with a set of basic answers. These are all very important considerations to take account of. We would recommend doing this before paying a single dollar for a box or tray.
Now we also fully appreciate that you may not yet know the answers to all of these questions, but by the time you have finished reading this article, you will know all of them. That will put you in a much better position to buy the right litter box, that suits you and the needs of your family and home.
We will go into each of these in more detail to help narrow down your choice, but for now it is important to understand what types of cat litter box are available. When we know the considerations and what is available, then you can make the perfect match.
Different Types of Cat Litter Box Available on the Market
Below we have listed all of the various types available. This will give you a very good understanding of what is available and what each of them can do.
- Self-flushing Cat Litter Boxes
- Self Cleaning Cat Litter Boxes (Automatic and Manual)
- Hooded or enclosed cat litter boxes
- Top Entry Litter Boxes
- Dome Shaped Litter Boxes
- Corner Litter Boxes
- Litter Trays
- Cat Litter Furniture
If you click on any of the links above, then you can read about each different type of box. However for now, we would recommend reading on.
Just below you will find some very useful information on each type of box. This includes the advantages and the disadvantages of each type of litter box. The most popular for cat owners is the hooded or enclosed style. This is essentially a litter pan or tray with a lid on it.
Self Flushing Cat Litter Box
These are the most expensive type of cat litter box on the market. These need to be hooked up to a cold water supply and an electricity supply.
The automatic cat box then flushes the waste away, and also washes itself clean. They are pretty clever but they do need to be setup properly.
They are also expensive ranging anything from between $230-500.
They use what is called washable granules, which you buy in a cartridge form. These are also expensive and need to be purchased on an ongoing basis.
They are an ideal solution for any home that wants full odor control, and for those who do not want to be scooping poop. They are also a very permanent solution.
The brand that makes the most popular models is known as CatGenie. There are of course other brands available, but this one seems to be the most popular.
There are some very strong arguments against flushing cat poop down any toilet. It is well known that parasites are sometimes found in cat feces and these can cause toxoplasmosis. It is therefore not recommended by those who care for their environment to flush cat poop into the main waste system.
That said, these are still preferred by some buyers, so we have included those in our list of the different types of cat litter boxes.
Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Box
Next on our list is the automatic self cleaning litter box style. It is worth pointing out that when it comes to self-cleaning cat litter boxes there are two types. There is:
- An automatic self-cleaning box
- A manual self-cleaning box
The automatic one is activated when the cat leaves the litter, whereas the manual one needs to be physically turned. This section is about the automatic type.
Two things are important when thinking of buying a litter box. The main one is the cleaning of it as no-one really likes this job.
The second consideration is being able to control the odors from cat poop and cat urine.
The only way to make certain that you don’t have to scoop daily, and also control smells is to have what is called an automatic self cleaning box. As I mentioned earlier there are manual self-cleaning boxes. You will notice just below we have also included this style of self cleaning litter boxes.
They are self cleaning but you still need to manually shake the litter box. With this automatic box style you don’t have to do that. These automatic boxes are not a cheap option either ranging in price from around $70-125 per box. That said, they are the first choice of many cat owners.
These usually come with a crystal style litter, and they self clean for weeks, so you do not need to scoop, refill or clean the litter. The litter style absorbs urine smells, and also dries out all waste quickly.
There is also a covered trap that locks away the poop, and that means out of sight.
The disadvantages of these is that they really do divide buyer opinion. Some people love them and some really hate them. They do take most of the pain out of daily cleaning, but they also have their limitations.
Manual Self Cleaning Cat Litter Box
Another popular choice is the manual self cleaning litter box. The reason it gets referred to as manual is that some manual intervention and work is required, though not a great deal
They use a type of sifting to remove the poop and clumps. Usually this sifting is done by either rolling or rotating the box by hand.
The poop and any clumps then fall through to the tray underneath, and that can then be removed and disposed of. Most of these use some form of grilled pan to do this.
So in essence you don’t have to use a scoop with these, but you still need to shake or rotate the box and then deal with the waste afterwards.
These are suitable for bigger cats or for homes that have multiple cats. That is because it would be too expensive to buy the self flushing or automatic boxes for a few cats.
It is also worth noting that these types of boxes really only work if you plan on using clumping litter. If you plan on using a different type of litter, then these are really of no use to you.
Hooded, Enclosed or Covered Litter Box
These are by far the best selling and highest selling type of litter box on the market. They are referred to as enclosed, hooded or covered litter boxes.
They are very popular because they are affordable and cats like litters that are enclosed or covered in some way. That is because cats generally speaking like some privacy, when doing their business.
These covered style are the type of litter boxes that you will find up and down the country.
Now as you can see from the image just to the right, you can also buy these as a self cleaning box. However the vast majority of these are plain boxes, where you put the litter in.
They will have a detachable lid that allows you to remove it when you need to scoop out the poop and clumps.
You also remove the lid when it comes time to do a complete litter change. This is a task that no one really wants to do, but a vitally important one to do.
It helps control the odors and it also makes sure that your cat will use the litter box. Cats generally speaking will not use a dirty litter box and may start going elsewhere in your home.
These are a good choice for all cats as long as you buy a big one. Cats like to have space in their litter box to turn and also to dig and cover.
The cat enters and leaves the box by using a flap, usually located at the front of the litter box. They make take a little training to get them to do this.
These cost anything from $10-50 depending on the style that you prefer.
Top Entry Litter Box
The top entry litter box is almost the same as the litter box described above. They are an enclosed box but the entrance is on the top of the box rather than at the front of the box.
The main reason for this is to help stop dogs getting into the litter box. This is a common problem for homes where both a cat and a dog live.
Dogs will get into a normal front opening litter box easily, and much as you may not want to hear this, will actually eat cat poop.
Dogs may also eat cat litter and both can cause your dog serious problems. Dogs are much less likely to go into a box that has an opening on the top.
They are the same though as the popular covered litter boxes and they cost around the same price point of between $15-50 depending on the brand and style that you prefer.
The problems with this type of box is that some cats also don’t like using the top entry system. Now some cats will take to these without any difficulty, whereas others may require to be trained to do that, but it may take a lot longer to get this done.
Dome Shaped Litter Box
Another interesting option is the dome shaped litter box. These are simply a different style of the enclosed or covered boxes that I have described above.
Many cat owners really like the appearance of the dome style, and some cat experts are also convinced that the shape is preferred by some cats.
I couldn’t find any evidence for that, so the evidence is anecdotal. They are becoming more popular, and a number of manufacturers have now started to make these in slightly different styles.
There are a lot of different styles and those who buy them are people who prefer a more contemporary look to their boxes.
These are predominantly made by the manufacturer Petmate, and their main line of these are known as the Booda Dome. There are however other brands and it is worth pointing out that these do come in a few different and interesting styles.
Corner Shaped Litter Box
As the name would suggest this is a litter box that has been designed to neatly fit into a corner. For those who like a neat and tidy finish, then these will be an excellent choice.
There are not a lot of these about, but buyers who go for these really do like them.
The good news is that these are not that expensive. You can buy these either as a basic tray, or as an enclosed style of covered litter box.
These really are all about space saving.
That of course makes them a great choice for anyone living in an apartment or a smaller home. There are also many homes that are busy, and there are not a lot of places to keep a litter box.
This one does supply a few alternatives to the normal bulkier shaped boxes. Another key reason that cat owners buy these is that keeps the box out of the way. Let’s face it litter boxes are unsightly, and this one keeps them tucked into a corner.
Litter Trays or Pans
These are the most affordable and basic of cat litter trays or pans. These are cheap to buy and some cats prefer the open style of these trays.
You simply fill these with litter and then they are ready to be used.
Almost all of these have high sides and those help to keep the litter from being kicked out of the pan, when the cat tries to cover up it business.
These are basically little more than a plastic tray that you fill with litter. They are of course the cheapest type on the market, and they will come in various sizes like small, medium, large and jumbo.
All the main pet brands will make at least one style of these. The reason most people have moved away from these is that they are really unsuitable for homes where there are other pets, or smaller children.
If these are not cleaned regularly, then poop is always visible and you also get the “pleasure” of seeing your cat poop and pee. These are also prone to litter getting kicked out of them by the cat.
Cat Litter Furniture
At the other end of the price point there is also the choice of buying what is called cat litter furniture. This is essentially a piece of normal furniture that you would have in different rooms. It could be anything from a night table, to a bench, an end table and even an urn.
The inside of these have been designed to hold a litter box. Usually these are only suitable to hold one of the litter trays that I have mentioned above.
In that way they not only cover up the litter box, which helps control odors, but they also look really nice as a normal piece of furniture. Many cat owners also buy these nut instead of using them as a litter location, they make the inside into a bed for their cat.
They then use the upper section of the inside to keep and serve their food.
So Which Is The Best Litter Box for YOU?
By now you should know what types are available. These range from the simple cat litter tray for just a few dollars and all the way through to the much more expensive self-cleaning options. As you can see there are a heck of a lot of choices.
The reality is however that most people are dictated in which litter they can buy by their budget. For us it is always the question which of the products will give me the best value for money? Then we try to figure out which features do we really need to have?
Personally although the litter trays are cheap, we avoid them as the litter is always exposed, and so is the smell. Aside from that these are very messy, even when placed on a litter mat. If the home has another pet or a small child we would also recommend avoiding these tray style litters.
They do however meet the most basic needs and all cats will use these without needing much encouragement from the owner. So they are a good basic choice for a cheap and cheerful cat litter. They are also a very good choice if you happen to own a timid or anxious cat. Vets do recommend this style as they can help a lot with this type of behavior problem.
A good basic covered or hooded litter box is a very good choice as long as you don’t mind removing poop and clumped litter on a daily basis. If the thought of that task is too much, then a self cleaning box of some style is always going to be the best option.
The enclosed cat litter box with a side or front entry flap is by quite a distance the most popular type of cat litter box that is purchased by cat owners. They control the odors really well, and they keep the sight of the cat litter under a lid and out of view.
When it comes to self cleaning boxes that you rock from side to side, these are much better value than the automatic ones. The automatic types are however a better choice for someone who is out of the home most of the day.
As you can see the ideal litter box depends a lot on individual circumstances. That is why I suggest reading my questions first, and then deciding which litter box is best for your own individual and personal needs.
How Many Litter Boxes Do You Need?
According to the experts you should have one litter box for each cat in the home, plus one extra box. For example with just one cat in the home you should have two boxes. If you had 2 cats in your home you should have 3 boxes.
The reason for this is that cats don’t generally like to share the same litter box. They can get quite territorial about doing that, so best to have a box for each cat.
In addition to this, if a box is not regularly cleaned (daily) your cat may avoid using that, and having another box ensures they will use a litter, and not deposit their business somewhere else in your home.
Buying one or more litter boxes is of course an additional expense. This is however what the experts recommend and there are very good reasons for that.
Type of Cat Litter
There are a few different types of cat litter available that go inside the litter box. Around 95% of all cat litter sales are clay based litters. These come in two types; clumping and non-clumping. The clumping style is the most common as it turns the cat urine into clay lumps which are then quick and easy to remove.
There are also silica gel or crystal litters available which are becoming more popular. Finally there is natural or biodegradable litters available and these are made from things like pine cones, corn husks or recycled paper.
There is no single type of litter that is best for a particular type of litter box. Now that said there are a few exceptions which you should be aware of.
Self-Flushing Litter Boxes
These are the really expensive option and they do use their own type of flushable litter. That means you can not use ordinary cat litter with this type of litter box. Just be aware of that if you decide this is the type of litter box you want to own.
Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Boxes
Likewise many of the automatic self cleaning litter boxes use their own built in litter tray. Like the self-flushing style you have to buy a particular brand and type of litter, as you can not use standard cat litter in these either.
Other Litter Boxes
Apart from those two boxes that I have mentioned, the type of litter that you want to use will work perfectly well in any other type of litter box. So it really doesn’t matter which type you use and it will simply come down to your own personal preference.
Picking a Litter Box
One thing is certain, there are a lot of choices available for a litter box. Sometimes you just have to pick one and see if your cat will use it. If in any doubt I would recommend going for a basic cheap tray with high sides. Almost any cat or kitten will use that style without any problems whatsoever.
They are not ideal if you have other animals or small children around. If that is the case then some type of enclosed box is always a much better option, and ideally a top entry box works best if there are dogs around.