Cat litter outside the litter box is something that comes along with owning a cat. However, there are several ways to keep cat litter from tracking too far from the litter box. It’s one thing to find it in the litter area, it’s another to find cat litter in your bed.
Try the following tips; the more of them you combine, the less litter you’ll find tracked throughout your house.
- LITTER BOX STYLE
- LITTER BOX CONTAINMENT
- LOW-TRACKING LITTER
- LITTER MAT & OTHER SURFACES
- SWEEP / VACUUM REGULARLY
The more of these elements you layer onto your litter box area, the less litter you’ll find being tracked throughout your house.
WHAT CAUSES CAT LITTER TRACKING
Cat litter gets tracked outside the litter box when:
- Your cat is digging around to either make a hole or to cover their business; they can kick litter outside the litter box. That litter then gets stepped on, either by you, your cat, or someone else in the household, and tracked to other rooms.
- Your cat steps in the litter box, digs, and moves around; the litter particles get stuck between their toe pads. That litter hitches a ride with them and comes loose as they walk around, jump up on the couch, or clean their toes on your bed.
If you have a cat, some litter outside the litter box is unavoidable.
However, you can lessen how much litter ends up getting kicked outside the litter box and tracked throughout the house, with the following tips.
#1 LITTER BOX STYLE
As mentioned, one of the ways litter ends up outside the litter box is from your cat kicking it over the edges. It then gets stepped on and tracked throughout the house.
You can reduce or stop litter from being kicked outside the litter box by purchasing a high-sided litter box, covered litter box, top-entry litter box, or furniture litter box.
HIGH SIDED LITTER BOX
A high-sided litter box is just what it sounds like; it’s an open pan but the sides are higher than traditional litter boxes.
The most loved feature of this type of litter box is that the price points are still relatively low. The most disliked feature is that even the highest of sides are no match for some people’s high-litter-kicking cats (or high-pee-ers).
This is the best overall high-sided litter box: NATURE’S MIRACLE HIGH-SIDED LITTER BOX.
But you can find more options to suit your, and your cat’s, needs here.
One feature to keep in mind when shopping for a high-sided litter box is the entrance. If you have an older cat or one with mobility issues, you want to look for a box with higher sides, but a low enough entrance that doesn’t make it hard for them to step into the box.
COVERED LITTER BOX
Covered litter boxes have gotten a bad rap over the years, which may be why researchers decided to conduct a study (source) to determine if cats prefer uncovered litter boxes over covered.
Basically, the study found that most cats really didn’t have a preference; they used both when given the option.
Of course, each cat has their own preferences and yours may not like using a covered litter box, so it’s important to keep the regular litter box around until you have proof your cat will willingly use a covered litter box.
If you simply swap the covered litter box in, your cat may find another place to go to the washroom (some or all of the time), which can be a hard habit to correct (but here are tips if that’s happening in your home).
It’s also important to keep up with your litter box cleanings (here are tips to clean the litter box properly to avoid health issues…for you and your cat).
A dirty litter box can be out of sight, out of mind with a covered litter box so set reminders to scoop at least once a day to keep it clean and smelling fresh for your cat.
A low-dust litter is also important when using an enclosed litter box. The dust gets trapped in there when your cat scratches around and it can be harmful to their health.
A covered litter box ensures that no litter can be kicked over the sides.
However, your cat can still kick litter out of the entrance. Covered litter boxes with door flaps can be helpful in this situation, but it will trap even more dust and odors in there with your cat; which isn’t pleasant for them and could lead to litter box aversion.
Another option to avoid litter flying out the front door is a top entry litter box.
TOP ENTRY LITTER BOX
Top entry litter boxes are completely enclosed around the sides and have the entrance at the top, so your cat must hop up on the lid, then jump down into the litter box through a hole in the lid.
The most loved feature of these litter boxes is that they do a great job of keeping litter in the box as your cat uses it. Most have grooves or holes in the lid so when your cat hops on it to get out, excess litter will fall into the grooves or through the holes and back into the box.
The least loved feature of top entry litter boxes is that some cats have been known to step in their business as they jump out. Most people found keeping the litter box clean remedied this problem.
Again, a low-dust litter and frequent cleaning schedule is important with this type of litter box. And a transition period of still allowing your cat to use their regular litter box until they’ve proven they don’t mind using the top entry litter box.
This type of litter box is not ideal for a cat with mobility issues, as it can be hard for them to jump up and down to access the litter box.
LITTER BOX FURNITURE
Litter box furniture is designed to hide the litter box, which ensures litter is contained within the unit when your cat is digging around.
It may be designed to look like a potted plant, a bench, a nightstand, a coffee table, etc.
There are many options out there and many allow you to place a regular litter box inside the piece of furniture, while others have a built-in litter box.
These types of litter boxes are significantly more expensive than the plastic bins most of us are used to.
#2 LITTER BOX CONTAINMENT
Having some sort of a containment around the litter box can also help keep litter within an area.
The containment may be a large cardboard box, a large plastic storage bin, or a piece of furniture (e.g. a litter box set inside a large cabinet).
When a litter box is placed within a bigger box, it ensures, even if litter is kicked over the edges of the litter box, the second box stops that litter from hitting the floor you walk on.
The litter your cat tracks out (as opposed to kicks out) is mostly done so within those first couple of steps. If those steps are taken with a larger container, it allows more time for the litter to fall off their feet, before they reach a higher traffic surface you walk on.
It can also help if you place the opening to the container on the opposite side as the opening to the litter box (if possible).
This creates a bit more of a maze or path that your cat must walk along when leaving the litter box area; which gives more time for more of the litter to get dislodged from their toes.
#3 LOW-TRACKING CAT LITTER
Natural cat litters are a better option for your health, your cat’s health, and for the environment. They also tend to have bigger particles, which make it harder for them to get stuck between your cat’s toes.
Some natural cat litters, such as paper pellet litters, are much lighter, so that can lead to the particles being flung further when your cat is furiously digging. However, this can be remedied with the right type of litter box or litter box containment.
Natural cat litters such as paper pellet litters, wood pellet litters, corn cob litters, etc. do require an adjustment period, for both you and your cat.
Most natural cat litters are non-clumping (although there are some clumping ones on the market), so separating waste is a little different than when using a clumping litter. Natural cat litters also don’t tend to be as good as clay or crystal litters when it comes to absorbing smells.
However, this can also be remedied by properly cleaning the litter box (here are tips on how often you should actually be cleaning the litter box…you’re probably not scooping and changing litter often enough).
Many cat owners decide to try a natural litter and then swear off them when their cat doesn’t immediately take to it.
It’s important to introduce your cat to a new type of litter slowly. A ratio of 1:3 can be followed for the first week; introducing the new litter by filling the litter box 1/3 with the new litter and leaving 2/3 as their regular litter.
Each week, increase how much of the new litter you put in the litter box, and reduce their old litter.
There are also clumping clay litter options on the market that have larger clay particles to help reduce tracking. Such as DR ELSEYS PREMIUM CLUMPING LITTER.
#4 LITTER MATS & OTHER SURFACES
Litter mats can help catch more litter, but they’re not a miracle solution.
Adding a litter mat to the litter area will certainly help stop more litter from tracking around the house. However, you don’t want cleaning the litter mat to be a difficult chore on your list.
Look for ones that are easier to clean, such as this one: IPRIMIO LITTER TRAPPER. Its large size is also a bonus.
You can also try a mat that has lots of looping in the fabric that catches more litter, such as this one.
I’ve found these mats tend to catch more of the really small particles but larger particles make it to the floor. They’re also hard to get clean; litter particles get so caught in the weaves of the fabric, that there’s lots of litter left in the mat after vacuuming; good for preventing the litter from going anywhere, not so great if you like the look of a clean mat.
A litter mat should be placed right outside the entrance of the litter box.
You can imagine, if you have a high-sided litter box placed inside a large cardboard box or piece of furniture, and then a litter mat placed at the entrance/exit of that containment, that by the time your cat steps off the litter mat, they won’t have nearly as much litter between their toes, and anything they’ve kicked up is kept within a small area.
Add a larger particle litter, such as paper pellet litter, and there will be even fewer particles leaving the litter box area.
Litter mats do tend to be on the smaller side, so you can take it one step further (if you have the room) and add another textured area.
A piece of carpet your cat can take several more steps on before leaving the room or area can work great.
Something a little rougher in texture (but still comfortable for your cat’s paws) and deeper pile is ideal. This will help rub more litter off their feet and drop into the weave of the carpet.
#5 SWEEP / VACUUM REGULARLY
Your cat’s litter box must be scooped daily, at a minimum (here’s how to properly clean the litter box). This is a good time to quickly sweep or vacuum up any loose litter particles on the floor so you don’t step on them and track them out of the area.
It’s a lot of work to pull the vacuum out every day, but what I’ve found helpful is to quickly sweep up the litter each day, or, if I’m in a rush, simply sweep the litter into a pile out of the way, to be swept or vacuumed up at a later time.
A cordless vacuum is also really handy when you have a cat. A good one is a bigger investment but it’s such a time saver for tasks like this.
The Dyson Stick Vacuum is my favorite. It’s cordless and allows you to vacuum for up to 30 minutes (This model can run up to 60 minutes) . Perfect for quickly vacuuming the litter box area or when you need to do a quick spot vacuum before guests arrive.
It also converts to a handheld by simply snapping off the stick and adding an attachment; perfect for sucking up litter along edges or in tight spaces.
I barely have to pull out my bulky vacuum since I’ve purchased one.
Having a litter box inside a contained area (such as a big cardboard box or cabinet) won’t reduce how much litter gets tracked if your cat is just walking on a pile of litter as they exit the area.
The floor around the litter box must be kept clean to reduce how much litter they’re walking on, as well as give more of the litter a chance to fall off their feet.
I hope this article has helped you keep cat litter from tracking throughout your house 🙂