A cat’s litter box should be approximately 1.5 times the length of your cat and double their width. If you’re purchasing a covered litter box, it must be at least 5” taller than your cat when they’re sitting so there’s room for a few inches of litter and for your cat to crouch.
A litter box needs to be filled with 2 – 4 inches of litter and your cat must have room to crouch without bumping their head. When a cat crouches in a litter box to eliminate, their butt goes down and their head raises slightly from standing position. Lack of headroom is just one of the reasons a covered litter box isn’t recommended.
What’s most important when choosing a litter box is that your cat has room to walk in and move around. If your cat feels confined in their litter box, they’re likely to find a more comfortable spot to urinate and defecate.
Are Bigger Litter Boxes Better?
To a cat, a bigger litter box is better. According to this study, when given a larger litter box, cats will use all areas of it, suggesting, cats like and appreciate bigger litter boxes.
A bigger litter box means there’s more space for your cat to walk without stepping on wet or hard litter, or in their own feces.
However, you must keep litter changes in mind when choosing a size of litter box.
Litter must be changed regularly, no matter how big of a litter box you buy. And you must be able to lift the big litter box full of litter to empty it.
If you buy too big of a litter box, you may be tossing more dirty litter than you need to each month. Yes, a bigger litter box gives your cat more litter to use, but no matter how much you scoop, there are still bits of waste, bacteria, and odors left behind. This is why you must toss litter regularly (1 – 4 weeks depending on the type of litter you use).
Ultimately, what cats want is a clean spot to eliminate. You need a litter box that’s big enough to allow your cat to move around in. But purchasing a second or third litter box may be a better option over a bigger litter box, to help ensure cleanliness.
Should You Have More Than One Litter Box?
A second or third litter box, rather than a bigger litter box, is especially necessary if you have a cat eliminating outside the litter box or have more than one cat.
Multiple litter boxes allow you to place them in different locations to encourage your cat to use the box, rather than your laundry basket.
It also gives each cat their own space. Cats are territorial, and even though they may seem like they’re sharing one litter box just fine, it’s likely they’ll be happier with more than one. Urinating and defecating is a way for them to mark their territory. When another cat comes along and marks right over where they have, it won’t make them happy.
Not all multi-cat homes need multiple litter boxes. Here’s a guide to help you determine if you need to follow the rule of “one litter box per cat plus one extra”.
Other Litter Box Dimensions
When it comes to the dimensions of a kitty litter box, also consider the height of the sides and the entrance. If you have an older cat, or younger cat, with mobility issues, you’ll want a litter box with a low entrance so they don’t have any trouble stepping into it.
If you have a high-peeing cat, or one who likes to kick a lot of litter around, you may find a high-sided litter box helpful to reduce messes. You’ll find more info on high-peeing cats here and appropriate litter boxes here, and how to reduce litter outside the litter box here.
Average Size of Cats & Litter Boxes Dimensions
Companies that sell cat products are marketing to the cat owners (obviously). The owners are the ones spending the money and they want to keep them happy (and not necessarily the cat), so they come back and purchase again.
Most litter boxes are designed to please that cat owner. Who, of course, wants to hide the litter box. It’s smelly and unsightly. But that’s unfair to our cats.
Cats would typically find a big garden, patch of dirt, or sandbox to do their business, and would never have to step on their waste. We’re asking them to urinate and defecate in a small 2 foot box (if that). On top of that, most cat owners don’t scoop or change the litter often enough.
There’s a bit of a disconnect when it comes to the average size of cats and the average size of a litter box.
According to Wikipedia, the average size of a cat is about 18” in body length. Keep in mind, bigger breeds such as a Maine Coon can range from 19” – 32” in body length.
Average cat length: 18”
Length of litter box (Length of cat x 1.5) = 27”
Average length of litter boxes on the market: approximately 20”
As you can see, most litter boxes aren’t big enough for the average cat, even when they’re labeled as “large”, “XL”, or “jumbo”.
Here’s the biggest litter box on the market and alternatives if even that won’t be big enough for your large cat.
I hope this has helped you determined how big a litter box should be for your cat 🙂