Litter tracking is a common complaint among cat owners, right up there with litter smell. Unfortunately, there will always be a small amount of tracking, no matter what type of litter you use. But there are ways to reduce it, check them out here.
There may also be reasons your cat is tracking litter more than normal. Let’s look at some of the common culprits of litter tracking.
#1 Litter Box Location
Where the litter box is placed within a home can make a difference in how much litter you find in your main living areas. The litter box should always be placed in an area that’s convenient for your cat, not you. If your cat doesn’t like its location, they may stop using it, which will be a bigger problem than just finding loose litter around the house.
If your cat doesn’t like the current litter box location, they may be in a rush to use it and get out.
It may be that there’s a loud noise that startles them, such as a furnace kicking in, or that it’s in a dark, cold spot, and they don’t feel safe.
If they’re rushing, they may be kicking up more litter than they normally would, or they may be running from the area after being startled, which can lead to litter getting scattered around.
You don’t want the litter box in an area your cat is afraid to go to or in a spot they wouldn’t normally visit or walk past on a day-to-day basis. However, the closer the litter box is to your main living area, the more likely it is you’ll find litter in it.
Litter will fall off your cat’s paws as they walk. So the more runway they have to walk on before making it to a main living area, the less litter they’ll bring with them.
It’s a fine balance of choosing a litter box location that’s close to the main living areas so your cat feels comfortable , but not so close that it’s within feet of a main walking area for you and your household members.
#2 Cat Doesn’t Like the Litter
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of owning cats, it’s that every cat is an individual. It doesn’t matter if they all come from the same litter or even look exactly alike – their personalities are as unique as human fingerprints.
Some are picky about the texture of the litter while others are particular about scents (most cats don’t like scented litters due to their sensitivity to strong scents).
If you’re noticing your cat is tracking more than normal, it could be they don’t like their litter and are digging more than usual. This can lead to more litter outside of the box and stuck between their toes, which then gets tracked throughout the house.
Try a new litter and see if it helps with the tracking problem.
#3 Litter Box Size and Depth
At a minimum, cats need a clean litter box that’s roomy enough for them to move around in and dig without feeling cramped or vulnerable.
If the litter box you’ve chosen is too small (most on the market are too small for the average-sized cat), they won’t have enough room to dig, move, and cover, which will lead to more litter outside the box.
If you notice your cat digging more than usual, turning around, and moving spots before going, it’s likely they’re having a hard time getting comfortable. This may be due to the litter box being too small.
You also want to make sure the depth of the litter isn’t too deep for your kitty’s liking.
If the litter level is close to the top of the litter box, it’s easier for them to kick large amounts of granules out. Once the litter is on a hard surface, it travels much easier and quicker.
The other issue with filling a litter box with too much litter is that a cat will have a harder time displacing the litter to create a hole. If they dig and the litter falls right back into the hole, they might start frantically digging, kicking more litter out of the box.
#4 Litter Consistency
One of the litters I’ve tried and love is Sustainably Yours. It has many perks but one of the downsides is its finer, almost sand-like consistency. Because the granules are so small and light, they travel much easier.
It also makes it harder for a cat to dig a hole in their litter when the consistency is too fine, which can lead to excessive digging. Imagine moving pebbles aside versus fine sand. The sand will fall back into place much easier.
#5 Litter Box isn’t Kept Clean Enough
Cats would choose a different location to eliminate each time if they were out in the wild. When we’re asking them to go in the same three-foot by two-foot spot, we need to ensure it’s clean for them.
If they have to navigate clumps of urine and feces, they’re going to do a lot more digging to try and find a clean spot. The more they feel they have to dig, the more litter they’ll kick out of the box and get stuck between their toes.
Litter should be scooped at least once a day, but preferably more.
#6 Surface Under Litter Box is Too Smooth
If the surface under your cat’s litter box is smooth, the litter has an easier time traveling. If the litter box is on a concrete, hardwood, or vinyl floor, you and your cat are going to get litter that’s fallen outside the litter box on the bottom of your feet. As you walk around, you’ll both track it throughout the house.
The more texture you can place under the litter box and in the litter box area, the better chance there is the litter granules will stay put, fall off your cat’s paws, and won’t roll out the door and into a main living area.
When using a litter mat or high-pile carpet/rug, the litter will fall beneath the surface you and your cat’s feet touch, so it won’t be picked up and tracked around.
I personally use a large litter mat (this is the one I find works well) under each litter box, and then have a carpet remnant under that, spanning a larger area.
The litter mat catches most of the litter, and what it doesn’t catch falls into the threads of the carpet.
Try placing a high-pile carpet remnant or a shaggy carpet under and around the litter box to catch more litter.
#7 Health Issues
If you’re noticing more litter tracking than normal, and you haven’t changed litter, litter box, or litter box locations, it may be that your cat is experiencing a health issue and they’re spending more time going to and from the litter box or digging in it.
If your cat is in discomfort when using the litter box or is having a hard time eliminating, they may dig more than normal or be frequenting the litter box more often.
There are a number of reasons your cat may be uncomfortable when using the litter box:
- Intolerance to something being fed to them
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Diabetes can cause a cat to urinate more frequently
- Kidney problems can cause a cat to urinate more frequently
- Urinary stones can be painful and make it difficult for your cat to relieve themselves in the litter box
Keep an eye on your cat when they’re using the litter box to see if they’re straining, digging but not eliminating, or are exhibiting any signs of discomfort during or after using the litter box. If you notice any signs, take your pet to see their veterinarian to rule out any health problems immediately.
#8 Litter Between Paw Pads
If your cat is stepping in wet litter, that litter is going to stick between their toes more than normal. This will allow them to carry the litter between their toes further than they normally would. Wherever they stop to clean their toes (e.g. on the couch, in your bed, etc.), you’re going to find litter.
Wet litter may be the result of a new cat litter that doesn’t clump quickly, or your cat peeing larger amounts than normal. This may be due to increased water intake during the summer months, or when switching to wet food, which has more water.
Larger urine clumps may also be a sign of a health issue, such as diabetes.
Your cat may also carry more litter between their toes if they’re a long-haired cat. The longer fur between their toe pads can help to trap more litter, which will loosen and fall out as they walk around the house.
You can have a groomer or a veterinarian trim the fur between their toes. If your cat is fairly docile and will allow you to hold them and touch their toes without much squirming, you may be able to trim the fur between their pads safely.
It’s a lot of work to keep up with cleaning the litter tracked outside the litter box, but it can be reduced if you follow these simple tips.
If you find that your cat is also tracking poop outside the litter box, it’s important to correct that issue quickly, as it’s a health hazard. Here’s how to identify why it’s happening and how to fix it.
I hope this article has been helpful!