When I met Rose she had one cat, Sneakers, who had a typical litter box. Later, when we added more cats, we added a couple more standard litter boxes. These boxes came with a cover that is designed control odors and keep more of the litter in the box. It is a great idea for humans, but what about for cats?
I never liked the covers and either threw them out or bought the box without the cover. I tried to look at it from the cat’s point of view. Would I like to crawl into a small cave to do my business? That is essentially what an outhouse or Port-O-Potty is and I never like using those and only do so when left with no choice.
The idea that those covers control odors, in my opinion, is a fallacy. They may somewhat contain the odors inside the box, in concentrated levels, that the cat then has to endure every time they use it. In addition, all those smells are released all at once when you remove the cover to scoop. I have seen my cats use the litter box without the cover and they will almost always have their head in a position outside where a cover would be, indicating to me that the cover interferes with what is comfortable for them.
We eventually switched to larger boxes, in part because we had too many cats, but also because I felt the standard litter box was too small and confining. Cats like to choose a good spot to go in and I felt the cats would feel better if there were more room to find that spot.
At first, we bought big storage boxes. These worked well but when Chris came along and started pooping outside the box, I spent many years refining our litter boxes, and the litter itself, to get him to poop where he should.
I tried very hard to think like a cat so I could understand why Chris would not always use the box. I started scooping the boxes every time I noticed one had been used. Chris had a very loose stool and would sometimes poop in the box and then five minutes later poop again on the floor, presumably because the box was “used.”
Another thought had been that the boxes were a bit too tall and climbing into a box is probably not natural for a cat. With that in mind, I replaced the boxes with ones that were a little shorter. I also bought an actual litter box that was short enough so Chris could just step into it. These changes helped but they were not enough.
Just recently we purchased two litter boxes. One was fairly big with a low front for easy entry. Our most recent purchase was a huge litter box called the Giant Litter Pan that is also lower in the front and it has two pockets for the scoop, bags and whatever else you need there.
Chris using our new Giant Litter Pan
Of course, the right box is only part of the solution. The other thing to consider is litter. Litters that are dusty are not good for humans or cats. I tried many litters and, at least for a while, settled on Tidy Cats because it had a relatively low dust. The Tidy Cats worked well enough but it did not stop Chris from pooping on the floor.
What helped that was a litter called Dr. Elseys Cat Attract. This litter has an attractant that somehow makes the cats want to use it. The drawback to this product is the cost, at about $30 a bag. It also did not work 100 percent of the time, however, the number of poops I had to clean off the floor was reduced by at least 80% which made this well worth the extra cost. It is also even less dusty than the Tidy Cats.
Chris’s pooping problem was eventually eliminated when we moved to our current home and put our three litter boxes (now two) in the same room. We had them in different rooms so Chris would always be close to a box but I see now that was a mistake. If one box was not perfectly clean in the old house, Chris was not going to go to another room to check out the next box. He simply pooped on the floor. Now if a box is dirty he can just step over into the other box to do his business.
Now that the litter box issues are behind us we switched the litter to Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat litter. It is the same as the Cat Attract but without the attractant (which is called
Precious Cat Ultra Litter Attractant and can be purchased separately) and the higher cost. It is still not cheap but it is very low dust and is also unscented, which I think is good because the perfumes added to litter is just one more thing intended for humans that a cat does not need.
Now I spend a little more time scooping and sweeping litter but I consider that time well spent. It is way better than cleaning poop off the floor.