Getting the right litter tray as well as litter training your cat can save you a lot of time and energy. If you are getting a kitten, or if your cat is going to be an indoor cat, then a litter tray will be an essential addition to your cat accessories. If you already have your litter tray, cat litter and you know where you are going to put the litter tray, then you may want to check out our section on how to litter train a kitten or cat.
A tabby cat napping after eating a big bowl of food
Choosing A Litter Tray
There are a huge variety of litter trays available on the market so it can be confusing when deciding which is best for you and your cat.
Number - A general rule of thumb for litter trays is to have one for every cat you own plus an extra one. This is to prevent cats fighting over litter trays and possibly becoming so anxious that they go to the loo elsewhere.
Size - Basically, bigger is better in this case. Adult cats need some room to move around so if you keep a tiny kitten sized tray then you are likely to have some accidents, not to mention litter being shovelled out of the tray by an overly eager digging cat.
Furthermore a kitten should have no issues learning to use a large tray, but if you swap the tray they learnt in for a bigger one you may find they are not used to it so decide to go somewhere less convenient.
An open litter tray
As a minimum, make sure the tray you get is 1.5 times your cat’s length (nose to base of tail).
Open Or Closed Litter Tray?
Open Litter Tray
If you decide to go for an open litter tray then make sure it has high enough sides to prevent litter being shovelled out. If the sides are too high for your kitten to get in; build a small ramp out of cardboard or any other suitable material.
A ginger and white kitten using an open litter tray
Closed Litter Tray
The benefits of a closed tray are that your cat may feel it has more privacy. Also, soiled litter won’t be so obvious to you or your house guests.
A closed litter tray
The drawbacks of a closed tray are that some cats dislike being enclosed because they fear ambush.
Choosing A Litter
As with the type of tray you have a large choice in litter type too. It can be difficult to work out which litter is best but it boils down to clumping types and non-clumping types.
Clumping - Clumping cat litters are usually clay based with bentonite added. The clay works by absorbing the moisture and the bentonite creates clumps that make it easy to remove soiled litter without emptying the whole tray.
When using clumping litter you may need a slightly deeper fill of between 5-7 cm to allow for the clumps to form properly. Trays using clumping litter should still be completely emptied and cleaned at least once per month.
Non-clumping - Non clumping cat litters can still be clay based but you will often see corn based, paper based, wood chipping based and even silica crystal based litters.
These litters are absorbent of moisture and odour but when soiled the whole tray must be replaced which is usually about once per week.
Where Should You Put A Litter Tray?
Cats are just like humans in the sense that they prefer privacy when going to the loo. For this reason a shy cat may outright refuse to use a badly placed litter tray.
A kitten using a litter tray that is placed in the corner out of the way
The best place for a litter tray is somewhere quiet and out of the way. Don’t put the litter tray where your cat eats or near any doors, windows and areas where there is hustle and bustle.
Equally make sure that if you have small children the litter tray is well out of the way of anywhere they may play.