Types of Cat Litter Boxes

Cats are naturally clean animals, but the type of litter box you choose can make a big difference in how much of a mess the area around your cat’s litter box is. So, which one is best for your home?

There are different types of litter boxes out there, if you want to keep your home smelling fresh, it’s key to choose the one that’s right for both you and your cat. We’ll discuss the different types here and also give you some information on how to choose the right one.

Open Litter Pans

This is the cheapest and most basic form of litter box. They are rectangular and are generally made of plastic. The litter box looks like a simple container with the sides sloping outwards. They are between 4 to 6 inches tall.

Open litter pans are simple and easy to clean. Cleaning it is pretty straightforward, just scoop out any messes that you find. When the litter is completely soiled most people will just remove the bag and throw it in the trash. Another bag slips over the box and you pour fresh litter into the side of the bag and you’re done.  

Unless there is a terrible odor coming from the actual box itself there is no need to clean it. In fact many cat experts suggest not cleaning it if it is not completely necessary. They say that the box has a smell that your cats identify as “theirs”. If you wash the litter box, you wash away their smell and it might be seen as something foreign.  

For cats, this type of box is the easiest for them to get in and out of. They are able to see the area around them so they are not afraid of another animal ambushing them. 

There are some drawbacks to open litter pans. Because this type of little box is not covered, waste and odor can sometimes become immediately noticeable. Some cats may track litter outside of the box as they leave it. They may also push some litter out while trying to bury their waste.

This is the cheapest type, and the easiest and fastest to clean.

Covered Litter Boxes

These litter boxes are somewhat better for people than the uncovered litter boxes. They come with a hood or door that helps keep the waste and odor covered. Like the uncovered litter boxes, these are almost always made from plastic. Covered litter boxes have a small opening on one side that your cat can enter and exit.

Covered litter boxes will require more time and effort to clean. The covered litter boxes have a larger surface area compared to the uncovered litter boxes. The cover will need to be removed to take out the litter and also clean the litter box. The good thing about them is that the covered walls keep your cats from brushing litter onto the floor. There is still a chance they will track litter out with them, but it should be much less of a mess than without the cover. 

Some cats don’t like this type of litter box because it traps them if another cat tries to enter the box. In some houses one cat will sometimes bully another cat, and trapping them in the litter box can be a problem.

Top Entry Litter Boxes

Top entry litter boxes have a small hole on the top of the box. To enter the litter box, your cat will need to hop up and enter through the hole at the top of the box. Because the litter box is covered the litter’s smell will be considerably reduced. It also keeps children and other pets from playing with or eating the litter.

Cats in good health will have no problem in using the litter boxes. For cats that have medical conditions like hip dysplasia or other physical conditions, it can be difficult for them to hop up on the litter box. This type of litter box is not recommended for cats with medical problems. You may need to buy an uncovered or covered litter box for them.

Some cats do not like this type of litter box because it traps them if another cat tries to enter the box. In some houses one cat will sometimes bully another cat, and trapping them in the litter box can be a problem.

Self Cleaning Litter Boxes

These are the modern types of litter boxes that use technology to provide convenience and comfort to pet owners. They don’t have to be cleaned manually because they will clean themselves automatically. There are many designs of litter boxes in this category. Some have an automatic function that combs the litter box and pushes the waste into a disposable bag after the cat has done their business. 

Most of these machines have infrared sensors that will sense when your cat has left the box. It will wait for a few minutes after the cat has left to start cleaning. The delay will keep your cat from getting surprised by seeing the moving parts start the cleaning process. It may take some time for your cats to get used to using these automatic litter boxes in the beginning but they will soon adjust.

Self cleaning litter boxes are expensive and may require an electrical outlet or batteries to operate. They will have to be placed in the home near an outlet.

By far the biggest downside to this type of litter box is that because the machine cleans the box for you it does not let you see if your cat is having a health problem. One of the biggest indicators of health issues with cats is if you see blood or runny poop in the litter. Immediately you know something is wrong with one of your cats. And if you have a self cleaning litter box then you’ll never even know that there is a problem.

Disposable Litter Boxes

These are lightweight and easy to use litter boxes that last for about a week. Disposable litter boxes are generally made from recyclable paper. They may come with a bag of litter or you may have to add your own litter. 

They are convenient and a great option for pet owners who are looking for a temporary litter box. While it may not be a preferred litter box for your home, they are really helpful when you need to travel with the cats. You can throw away or recycle the litter box after using it a few times.