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Litter Tray 101

Litter Tray 101
by Dr Grant Hampson

Read time: 4 min

Litter trays and litter are a vital part of your cat’s health. They need to have access to a tray whenever nature calls, and that tray needs to be comfortable and clean, with the best litter for their health and yours.

Get it right and you’re giving your cat the best life. Get it wrong and you might have a lot of cleaning up to do. So, let’s talk all things litter.

Does my cat even need a litter tray?

Yes. Your cat might predominantly use the garden, but they won’t always be outside. Whether it’s night time, cold days, rainy days, fireworks nights – sometimes every cat needs time at home. And for that, they need a litter tray.

Plus, if your cat can’t use the litter tray inside the house when they want to, it can stress them or cause urinary issues. Not to mention, they’ll start going in inappropriate places – like beds, for instance – and that’s a stressful time for you too.

What size should my litter tray be?

Go big or go home. Your litter tray needs to be large enough for your cat to move around easily – but shallow enough to jump into easily, particularly if they’re 7+. They need plenty of space to pick their spot. If in doubt, here’s the rule to follow: the litter tray should be one and a half times the length of your cat, from their nose to the base of their tail.

How many litter trays should I have?

Your cat should have ready access to a litter tray, without having to stand in line. So, here’s your next golden litter rule: you need at least one litter tray per cat, plus one more.

Should my litter tray have a hood?

Some litter trays come with hoods, and yes, they look tidier. But the reality is, they can stress your cat. The small space with one exit can seem confining. Surprising, but not all cats love boxes.

Plus, cats prefer a full view of their surroundings when they’re using the tray. That way, they know they aren’t about to be ambushed as they leave. And if you’ve got more than one cat in your house, that threat is real, people. Open litter trays, all the way.

If you’ve only got one cat and they’re already adapted to using a hooded box, or you need one to keep out enquiring dogs or toddlers, then make sure the size is right. Go even bigger than the rule above, so that they can move around well inside.

If you don’t want a tray out in the open, you could also consider converting cupboard space – say an understairs cupboard or linen closet. Just pop a cat flap on the cupboard door, put the litter tray inside and voila – your cat’s own private bathroom.

Where do I put the litter tray?

Put your cat’s litter tray somewhere quiet, where people won’t be walking past all the time. Just like us, cats like their privacy, and they can be startled and even run off halfway through if you get too close while they’re doing their business.

Second, make sure it’s nowhere near their food or water. You probably wouldn’t eat near the toilet, and your cat’s not a fan either.

How do I clean the tray?

You should check the tray every day for poops and remove them whenever you see them, using a scoop – and always remembering to wash your hands.

To clean the whole tray, first, you’ll empty the contents – usually into a bin bag, but check with your local council on the best ways to get rid of cat litter in your area. Then, you need to wipe down the tray with a cat-friendly litter tray spray. Be careful not to use any old cleaning spray: some can be dangerous for your cat.

How often you need to change your litter tray will depend on what kind of litter you’re using and how absorbent it is, so let’s talk…

Still got litter questions?

Want to switch your cat’s litter but don’t know where to start? Read our guide to choosing the right cat litter where we break down the multitude of litters out there to help you decide what’s best for your cat. 

Alongside our KatKin fresh food, we’ve developed our own range of cat litters that come to you. They’re now available for everyone, even without a fresh food subscription. Learn more about them here.

And we’ve also got a team of cat experts on hand 7 days a week to offer tips, tricks and everything in between. Email if you've still got questions, or if you just want to chat cat.

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