Choosing a Cat Litter Tray

Dr Kate Mornement - Vet and Pet Behaviourist profile picture

Dr Kate Mornement - Vet and Pet Behaviourist

PhD in Companion Animal Behaviour, BSc(Hons) in Zoology

Dr Kate Mornement is an Applied Animal Behaviourist, Consultant and Educator to pet parents, industry, government and media. She has a PhD which focused on companion animal behaviour from Monash University and a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Zoology (Animal Behaviour) from Latrobe university.

Choosing a Cat Litter Tray

Litter trays are essential for toilet training for kittens and to provide for indoor cats, but did you know that not all litter trays are equal? With a variety of types and styles available, how do you choose the best tray for your home and your cat?

Open Tray vs Enclosed

Choosing between an open vs enclosed litter tray comes down to you and your cat’s individual preferences. Open trays allow nervous cats to see their environment while they’re using the litter tray, which can help them feel more at ease whereas enclosed litter trays with a hood are preferred by cats who enjoy their privacy when toileting.

Hooded trays also have the added benefit of helping to contain the litter and smell when your cat toilets inside.

However hooded trays do take up a bit more space which is another consideration.

No Rim vs Low Rim vs High Rim

If you’ve decided an open tray is best for your cat, there are still a few options to consider in terms of whether the litter tray has a rim and how high the rim is.

The main benefit of a rim on the litter tray is that it helps to contain the litter and prevent spillage when your cat digs around inside.

The higher the rim the better the containment.

In general, lower rims are better for older cats who may have difficulty climbing into a higher rimmed litter tray.

Similarly, a small kitten may have difficulty getting into a high rimmed litter tray to toilet. So, it might be best to choose a low rim for these cats.

A high rim is better suited to a larger adult cat who can easily access a high rimmed litter tray. Some cats also enjoy a rimmed tray because they like to perch on the sides of the tray. Torn between the two? Then a cat litter tray with a medium rim might be the best option.

What about litter tray liners?

Litter tray liners are easy to use and can help keep your cat’s litter tray cleaner, requiring less washing between uses. Litter tray liners are simply placed over a clean litter tray before filling the tray with your litter of choice. When you’re ready to empty and refresh the litter inside the tray, you just pull the liner handles and tie them together. Replace the liner and the clean tray can then be refilled with fresh litter.

You can combine this regular litter tray liner with another type of liner called a sifting liner. These liners are placed on top of the regular liner and can be used to sift out messes in the tray between a complete litter refresh. Sifting liners have spaces in them which allow the clean litter to pass through. Using the sifting liner means you don’t have to use a shovel to clean out the clumps, which makes it a more hygienic way to clean the litter tray.

If you’re not sure which type of litter tray will work best for your cat, you can always experiment and offer them a couple of different options.

Your cat will show you which litter tray they prefer by consistently using their preferred tray. It’s important to choose a litter tray your cat likes because you want to ensure that using the litter tray is a good experience for them to maintain a positive association. This can help to avoid problems, such as litter tray avoidance, down the track.

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