Sign Up for Cat Talk
Get the latest health and behavior news and
advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News

Should I Buy a Covered or Uncovered Litter Box?

Excerpt from It's A Cat's World...You Just Live In It by Justine A. Lee, DVM

The next time you're in a pet store, take a look around - you'll be amazed at the variety of litter box choices that are available. You can purchase tall boxes, short boxes, small boxes, huge boxes, boxes with automatic scoopers, boxes of different shapes and colors, and covered and uncovered boxes. Most come with a lid, but not everyone chooses to use them. When in doubt, splurge a little - after all, litter boxes pretty much last a lifetime. Personally, I tolerate only covered litter boxes in my household. I like them because they help keep the kitty litter dust and smell in, prevent excessive kicking of litter onto the floor, and are more aesthetically friendly to houseguests.

In a multicat household, the more submissive cat may feel "trapped" in a covered litter box by an approaching cat and may be too timid to enter a covered litter box if she's feeling ganged up on. This may then result in inappropriate urination (i.e., peeing in your laundry basket, your plants, the basement, or on your down comforter). If your cats get along fine, try covered litter boxes, as it dramatically decreases the "dirtness" of having a litter box around in your house. You may even notice that our friends come around to visit you more. If you're not sure, leave a few options out there for your cats: a few covered and uncovered litter boxes, a few different locations, and different types of litter to see what your cats prefer.

To understand more about your cat's behavior, purchase It's A Cat's World...You Just Live In It from Catnip today.

 

Comments (3)

"When in doubt, splurge a little - after all, litter boxes pretty much last a lifetime."

Although plastic litter boxes could last a lifetime, I don't believe it's in the best interest of your cat to keep them that long. It depends on your box cleaning habits, whether bleach is used, whether there are scratches in the plastic which could contain harmful bacteria, etc. I don't think a statement like "pretty much last a lifetime" should have been made by Dr. Lee without adding additional qualifying information as I have. I replace my cat's litter boxes every 6 months. Why take a chance with harmful bacteria which could be present and harm your cat.

Posted by: mom2cindi | June 9, 2017 8:52 AM    Report this comment

I agree.

Posted by: Herzog0 | June 6, 2017 6:01 AM    Report this comment

Re comment by Justin Lee DVM, in re covered litter boxes: i.e., "I like them because they help keep the kitty litter dust and smell in, prevent excessive kicking of litter onto the floor, and are more aesthetically friendly to houseguests."

Well, Doctor Lee, keeping all the litter dust within a small closed in space, like a covered litter box, exposes one's cat(s) to inhalation of that concentrated dust, which is not good for kitty lungs. One has to wonder how many feline respiratory ailments, feline asthma being a biggie, are either caused by, and/or aggravated by, inhalation of litter dust.

Are we willing to risk the health of our cats in order to contain the dust and smell and/or eliminate things that are not aesthetically friendly, which, by the way, can be significantly reduced by frequent scooping of the box, using certain relatively dust-free (NO litter is "dust-free") litters? The only absolute way to eliminate any unpleasant side effects of the litter box is to not have a cat.

I have, at times, had up to 12 cats (indoor ONLY), with multiple litter boxes, in a large 2-bedroom condomininum, and adequate vertical space (cat condos, cat trees, etc) so that each cat can stake out its exclusive territory, and have never had a need to cover the boxes as they are frequently scooped and cleaned, and people who visit me have often commented they were amazed that NO odor could be detected.

If one doesn't wish to take on the maintenance required to control odor, then one should adopt a pet rock.

I think the advice that covered litter boxes are acceptable, by, of all people, a veterinarian, is bad advice.

Posted by: nyppsi | June 5, 2017 12:39 PM    Report this comment

New to Tufts Catnip? Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In