Pet Talk: Covered Litter Box Could Be Answer to Messy Cat

Q: I was wondering if one of those covered litter boxes would be good for a cat who throws his litter all over the floor. Our cat makes such a mess every time he uses his box.

A: Some people prefer covered litter boxes to decrease the amount of litter their cat throws out of the box when burying their business, but there are some things to consider when using one for your feline.

A study was done by veterinary researches from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine that was published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery to try and determine if cats prefer covered or uncovered litter boxes. They evaluated 28 cats ranging in age from 3 months to 15 years, with the average age of 3.1 years. Each cat was given two large boxes that were cleaned daily during the two-week study. The results showed no overall preference for covered versus uncovered, however some individuals did like one more than the other.

When individual cats were assessed, 70 percent showed no preference and used both boxes equally; 15 percent used the covered litter box more while 15 percent used the uncovered more. These results are pretty even.

This study determined that cats don’t seem to care if the box is covered or not. What they do care about is a clean spot to eliminate in and a box big enough to turn around in comfortably.

If you are using an uncovered box now and would like to try a covered box, make sure you leave the original box in the same spot while you set up and try the covered box. Leave the two boxes out for a couple of weeks and if your cat is using the covered box without an issue, then you can remove the old box.

Much of the success to using this particular litter box is size and how clean it is kept. As a rule of thumb the box should be at least one and a half times the length of your cat so he can turn around and position himself with ease, and the waste should be scooped at least once a day so odors don’t get trapped inside making it less appealing to your cat.

So, sure, give it a try and hopefully your kitty will be comfortable using a covered litter box which will help cut down on the litter he throws out of it.


Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected].


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