Setting Up The Litter Box – Follow the “KISS” Principle

Being an owner of cats and a professional pet sitter, I have lots of experience with litter boxes.  When setting up the litter box, the more complicated you make it, the less likely your cat will want to go there.  Ok, I admit that scooping the litter box isn’t the fun part of being a cat owner. I’ve seen lots of people go so far as to try to pretend there isn’t even a litter box in the house at all by locating it in such a remote area a cat would need a tracking device to find it! If you live with a cat he needs a litter box and that box should be:

  • The right size and type
  • Kept clean
  • Conveniently located

The most common questions I receive are from people who have cats with litter box problems. Many of those problems are because owners aren’t following the keep it simple rule. I’ve gone to countless homes where litter boxes were shoved in dark closets and where it was obvious they hadn’t been scooped in days. The poor kitties had to step over piles of soiled litter attempting to eliminate. How would you want to use a toilet that hadn’t been flushed for who knows how long?

» My recommendations for litter box size and type…

Kitty litter box


Just say “NO” to covered boxes!  The covered box reduces air circulation and takes longer for the litter to dry. The cover reduces head room for the cat. If you live in a multiple cat home don’t use boxes with covers or you may create an anxious situation whenever a cat has to eliminate. A covered box reduces escape potential. Covered boxes leaves a cat vulnerable to an ambush. When in

the box your kitty needs more than one way to escape.

If you have a larger cat and have a small litter box then it probably won’t be long before he or she decides to seek a more comfortable location, (maybe your bed!). The box size should be large

enough for your cat to eliminate in there several times without having to stand on previously soiled mounds of litter. In general, the box should be one-and-a-half times the length of your cat.

Just say “NO” to electronic and self-cleaning litter boxes.  Your cats and your pet sitter will thank you! The most important reason I say no is you don’t have the ability to monitor what does or doesn’t happen in the box which is a valuable diagnostic tool when it comes to your cat’s health.

In my humble opinion, a good old tall Rubbermaid type of storage box from the Dollar Store makes the best litter box and if have dogs too, the height prohibits your dog from dumpster diving!!

» My recommendations for litter box cleanliness…

Scoop the box at least twice a day. It only takes a few seconds. If your cat is eliminating just outside the box, it may be because that’s as close as he can get to the box because of how dirty it is. He may be trying to go where he’s supposed to but his nose is warning him of the smell coming from the nasty box.

The entire box should be thoroughly scrubbed and replaced with fresh litter on a regular basis. If you use scoopable litter, clean the box at least once or twice monthly. If you don’t use scoopable litter then the box needs to be cleaned more often.

And here’s the part owners don’t want to hear – there should be more litter boxes than cats.  A good rule of thumb is to have one more box than you have cats. A common reason for litter box aversion is that too many cats are forced to use too few litter boxes.

» My recommendations for a convenient location for the litter box…

Nobody wants a box in the middle of the kitchen, but make sure the location is convenient for your cat. If you live in a two-story home there should be a box on each floor. In a multiple cat home the boxes should be scattered so one cat doesn’t have to pass another cat’s area in order to eliminate. To prevent risk of ambush, don’t locate boxes in closets or closed-off areas. Give your cat

maximum visual advantage so when he’s in the litter box he has adequate warning time in case an opponent approaches.

Don’t place the box near the feeding station.  I don’t eat in the bathroom and neither should your kitties. 

Too little litter box


That’s about it from Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services, serving St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Pinellas Park and surrounding communities.  If you have questions, please comment and I’ll do my best to help you.

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