When I first started adopting cats I was overwhelmed by the amount of information I needed to know, or should I say learn extremely quickly. One thing I did learn almost from the onset, is that for most scenarios, there isn’t really a given rule as such, your cat will decide what the rules should be and will let you know what they are. Deciding what type of cat litter box furniture I should buy and the type of litter to use was no exception.
With so much choice on the market I was struggling to know whether I should buy large boxes, small boxes, hidden litter boxes, litter box furniture. Should I use clumping cat litter, crystal cat litter, natural cat litter. The simple task of providing your cat with basic toileting needs became what seemed at the time a major decision making exercise.
There are personal circumstances to be factored in before making a decision, such as whether your cat is an indoor cat, the size of your living accommodation, your budget, but ultimately the final decision will rest with your feline friend. If he is not happy with the decision you have come to, trust me, he will let you know about it.
Open Top Cat Litter Boxes
Open litter boxes are the cheapest option, are usually made of plastic, and are quite literally just a plastic sided tray. Ideal if you are on a budget or if your living accommodation is quite spacious. If you are housing kittens ensure the sides are not too high for them to get in and out. Always ensure the litter trays are positioned in quiet secluded areas of the house away from noisy distractions such as the washing machine.
Hidden Litter Boxes
Similar in design to their open counterparts, a hidden litter box simply has a hood attached to the tray. This has a number of benefits.
Firstly and most important a hidden litter box provides your cat with some privacy, which nearly all cats prefer to have for such matters. A covered litter box also helps to reduce nasty odors which I find extremely useful when I have friends or family visiting.
Another really useful feature is that they seriously reduce the amount of cat litter that is scattered and tracked which in turn reduces the amount of time I have to spend cleaning up after my feline friend.
Now I mentioned earlier that nearly all cats prefer having an enclosed litter box for that extra bit of privacy, I also mentioned that the decision ultimately will rest with your cat and I felt it important to explain why.
After living in a small apartment for a number of years I later found myself in a position whereby I could move to a more spacious apartment and living conditions weren’t as cramped.
Merlin, even though he had in the past used an open litter tray and even though I was in a situation whereby I could place a number of trays in secluded areas of my apartment, he just point blank refused to use them. It was a battle of wills, safe to say I lost the battle.
I no longer wanted to use the litter box furniture as I had gone minimalistic, so off I went on a quest to find a suitable alternative with the hope that Merlin would meet me half way. I was a little dubious as to whether I would be so lucky in this quest but fortunately I was. I actually ended up buying him a top entry litter box, which he took to straight away.
Around the same time myself and Merlin moved to our larger pad I decided to adopt a kitten from the local shelter home. In came Lilly.
Lilly is nearly 2 years old now, within her two years of being with us she has managed to gain her status as head of the household. I’m not entirely sure how it has happened, but it has, myself and Merlin resigned to just doing as we are told.
As much as I adore Lilly and love all of her characteristics and little quirks, she is a madam, with a sheer determination to always have her own way.
Lilly will not use any form of hidden litter box, period. I even tried with the litter box furniture I had previously bought for Merlin, it didn’t work. Lilly would just look at me with total disgust on her face, toss her nose in the air and wander off. No matter how much I tried I soon came to the resolution that this was a war I wasn’t going to win. So I now have two hidden litter boxes and two open top boxes to cater for them both, peace finally restored.
Litter Box Furniture
Litter box furniture is designed to look like a piece of furnishing within your home, which to the untrained eye will pass as a cabinet, concealing its true identity. They are of course the more expensive option but with so many different designs available you are more than likely going to be able to find something that will blend in well.
Following on from my earlier story cat litter furniture is ideal if your living accommodation is relatively small as they blend in really well and provide your cat with all the privacy he needs. Like the hidden litter boxes they also help to reduce odors and minimalize the amount of litter that is tracked through your home.
I wanted to give some examples of how personal circumstances can influence the decision made not only by yourself but also by your cat when it comes to litter boxes. I have an 8 year old cat called Merlin, whom I adopted when he was 5 years old from a local cat shelter. Merlin was, and still is to some degree, an extremely nervous, timid cat, afraid of his own shadow back in the days.
When I first brought Merlin home I gave him his own room to begin with, in a quiet area of the house, to give him a chance to reflect and get used to his new surroundings. He did actually spend the majority of his first couple of months with me, under the bed, sheltering from the outside world, but that is a different story, for a different day.
Given that he was 5 when I got him, he was already trained in toilet etiquette and I had no problems with him using his litter box or the clumping cat litter that I was using. I had several relatively large litter boxes scattered around the house and life went on, Merlin would use his boxes, I would clean up after him, no problems, no mishaps, all was well with the world.
Merlin Stopped Using His Litter Boxes
A few years in, my personal circumstances changed, and I and Merlin found ourselves having to move from a relatively large house to a small apartment. Toilet problems began. Initially I decided, given Merlin’s nervous disposition, he possibly had a bout of cystitis, brought on by the stress of moving, and thought a quick trip to the vet and some Feliway would solve the problem, unfortunately this was not the case.
Given living space was now somewhat cramped I tried moving the litter boxes to various places around the apartment, trying to place them in as secluded spaces as possible, to no avail.
Following some advice I received from a friend of mine, bonded by our passion for all things cat like, I bought a hidden litter box. I actually went the extra mile and bought a litter box cabinet in an attempt to blend it in with my furnishings.
All I had to do was place Merlin inside the cabinet a couple of times, move the cat litter around in the tray, and almost instantly, the problem was solved. Merlin’s refusal to use his litter box was nothing to do with stress or cystitis, it was simply due to the fact that he wanted a little privacy in such matters and he had decided that having a box tucked away behind the sofa, simply was not private enough.
I thought it important to write about the problem Merlin and I faced as it brings home the fact that often there is no definitive answer, sometimes in life we just have to try different things until we come to understand what works best for ourselves and our cats.