Litter box liners are popular products among cat owners and are recommended by many cat brands. They are designed to make cleaning the litter box easier, but the come with many downsides.
- LITTER BOX AVERSION
- HARDER TO SCOOP LITTER
- ENVIRONMENTALLY HARMFUL
- ADDED EXPENSE
1) LITTER BOX AVERSION
Litter box aversion is one of the most frustrating issues to deal with as a cat owner, and sometimes the smallest things can encourage your cat to stop using their litter box.
Your cat may be fine with a litter box liner, or they may not like the sound it makes as they step around the box, or how it feels when their claws get caught in the liner as they dig.
It’s best to prevent litter box aversion, rather than try to correct the behaviour. But if your cat has started pooping outside the litter box, try these tips. And if your cat is peeing outside the litter box, first determine why they’re doing it, and then use these tips to correct the behaviour.
Litter box liners never seem to fit the litter box properly. You’re basically placing a large garbage bag in the bottom of the litter box and using the heavy litter to keep it in place and press it into the corners. This leaves lots of wrinkles in the liner.
When your cat goes pee, especially if they tend to go up against the side of the litter box, that urine can get trapped between those folds, instead of soaking into the litter.
If your cat punctures holes in the liner, or you’re using sifting litter liners, that urine can get trapped between the plastic liner and plastic litter box. Again, not being absorbed by the litter. Some litter box liners are thicker plastic, or even tear resistant, however, they still may be no match for your cat’s claws if they like to thoroughly dig.
There’s a reason cat urine smells much worse when your cat pees on something that’s not designed to absorb it. This is effectively what happens when your cat’s urine is inside the litter box, but is sitting between plastic.
It leads to a much smellier litter box.
4) HARDER TO SCOOP
To properly clean your litter box and ensure it doesn’t become a health hazard for you or your cat, it must be scooped at least once a day.
Liners never seem to fit properly and they can prevent you from thoroughly scooping the bottoms and sides of the litter box to get them clean.
The scoop can get hung up on the plastic liner and even cause tears; then what good is the liner?
You do need to use some form of a plastic bag to dispose of your cat litter, however, litter liners typically need to be doubled up or placed in another bag due to holes being punctured from claws or scoops. You can easily find a more earth-friendly garbage bag to toss used litter in.
Sifting litter liners are even more wasteful, since you must use a large piece of plastic to sift the clean litter out and dispose of a small amount of waste. That perforated piece of plastic must also go within another garbage bag to ensure waste doesn’t fall out.
There are reusable litter box liners on the market, which don’t seem to have much purpose aside from protecting your litter box from scratches.
You must take the litter liner out of the box when you change the litter and pour the litter from the reusable liner into the garbage, which seems more difficult than simply pouring the litter from the litter box into the garbage, since the liner isn’t structured.
These reusable liners can still leak, you still must wash the liner before putting it back in the litter box, and it still must be tossed every few months.
There are also biodegradable litter box liners on the market, but they’re double or triple the cost of a regular litter box liner. Which brings me to my next point.
5) ADDED EXPENSES
Brands are able to charge more for their “plastic garbage bags” because they’re designed to fit in a litter box (although they don’t typically fit that well).
Some of the cheaper litter liners work out to be around $0.40 per bag.
But you can purchase kitchen bags for closer to $0.10 per bag, and fit much more in them.
WHAT ARE LITTER BOX LINERS?
Litter liners are plastic liners that fit inside the litter box and you pour litter on top of them. Most of them have a drawstring top, so when it’s time to change the litter you simply pull on the top of the liner and tie the bag closed.
There are some that have an elastic ring along the top of the bag, to help keep the liner in place, while others are simply a rectangular piece of plastic.
The purpose of these liners is to make changing the litter box easier (which needs to be done every 1 – 4 weeks, depending on the type of litter you use and other factors, learn more here).
They’re also designed to help protect the litter box from scratches and odors.
HOW DO LITTER BOX LINERS WORK?
The liner is basically a big plastic bag. It goes in an empty litter box and over the edges.
You then pour litter over the liner, up to the desired litter depth (learn more about the proper litter depth here).
When it’s time to change the litter, you gather the top of the liner and pull it out of the litter box, so all of the dirty litter stays inside.
You still must scoop the litter box once or twice a day.
WHAT IS A SIFTING LITTER BOX LINER?
Sifting litter box liners work in a similar way to regular litter liners, but the plastic liners have holes in them.
Basically, you would set one solid litter liner in the bottom of your litter box, and then several sifting litter liners on top. If you change your litter once per week, you would want at least 7 sifting litter liners to sift the litter once a day until it’s time to change the litter.
You would then pour litter on top of the sifting litter liners.
Each day, when it’s time to clean the litter, you would gather the corners and top edges of the liner and allow the clean litter to fall through the holes. You’ll likely need to move and squish the plastic around to get the majority of the clean litter out.
The holes make this option even more likely for urine to sit between the layers of plastic.
To keep your cat’s litter box clean, you must use one sifting liner per day, as an alternative to scooping your cat’s litter. This makes sifting litter liners even more wasteful than regular litter liners.
You’re using a very large piece of plastic with holes in it to dispose of a small amount of waste. You then must put that plastic within another plastic bag, so that litter and waste don’t fall out the holes of the sifting liner.
On top of this, it takes much longer to sift an entire litter box full of litter through the holes in the plastic, which get bunched together when you gather the corners and top of the liner together.
It also creates a lot of dust, which can be harmful to you and your cat.
LITTER BOX LINER ALTERNATIVES
There isn’t a good alternative to litter box liners, aside from emptying the litter box the old fashioned way; dump the old litter into a garbage bag and clean the litter box before refilling (there are lots of tips for how to change and clean the litter box here and how to properly dispose of litter can be found here).
However, there are products on the market that make litter life box easier for you.
1) NON-STICK LITTER BOXES
Part of the reason some cat owners prefer to use litter box liners is because they prevent clumping litters from sticking to the litter box when their cat urinates on the sides, or scratches down to the bottom of the box before peeing.
There are non-stick litter boxes on the market that have great reviews.
This PetFusion Large Non-Stick Litter Box is antimicrobial (meaning, it stops the growth of bacteria) and has a pet-safe non-stick coating to prevent litter and odors. They also make an antimicrobial litter scoop.
2) NON-CLUMPING LITTER
Another big reason cat owners use litter box liners is to avoid the big dust cloud that comes along with dumping an entire box of litter into a garbage bag. And rightfully so, that dust is not healthy for you or your cat to inhale.
However, there are natural alternatives that are 99% dust free and much less harmful.
Non-clumping natural litters may not be what we’re used to when it comes time to scoop the litter box, but the benefits far outweigh the learning curve. Paper pellet litters may be a better fit for you.
Most natural cat litters are also much lighter than clay or crystal litters, so it makes picking up the litter box and dumping its contents much easier.
3) EASY TO EMPTY LITTER BOXES
The Litter Genie Cat litter box has built in handles and is made of flexible plastic so you can easily lift up the litter box and funnel the contents into the garbage.
The Litter Genie Disposal Bin also makes scooping easier since you always have a bag handy, and only need to dispose of that bag once it’s full; it holds up to 14 days of litter waste (for one cat).
4) SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOXES
You may want to invest in a self-cleaning litter box. You’ll still have to change the litter frequently, which will require you to do it the old fashioned way, but you won’t have to scoop the litter every day.
The PetSafe Self-Cleaning Litter Box is the most popular and well-reviewed self-cleaning litter box on the market. It also comes in a hooded style with front or top entry.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful in understanding why litter box liners aren’t a great option 🙂