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Tired of a messy litter box? Here are six things you need to know.

6 Litter Box Secrets You Need to Know

One of the best things about cats is their predictably unpredictable behavior. Once you decide to share your life and home with one or more of them, it doesn’t take long to realize that each has her own unique personality, complete with plenty of quirks. For the most part, these quirks lead to lots of laughs and only make us love them more.

However, there’s one area where no cat parent wants to experience unpredictability: the litter box. Having a kitty who refuses to use one, or who uses it inconsistently, is one of the most frustrating issues to deal with. It can be stinky, messy, and altogether unpleasant. 

But here’s the good news: many litter box issues have simple solutions. For an episode of the YouTube series, Dear Tabby, I had the chance to chat with Dr. Liz Bales (AKA the Catvocate) to uncover the secrets to litter box success. Check out the episode and read below as I break down her 6 secrets, guiding you along the path of what to purchase, how to maintain your cat’s litter box, and how to set your kitty up for lasting success!

If you’re having trouble getting your kitty to use the litter box consistently, or if she was using it but then stopped for some reason, you’ll want to talk to your vet to rule out health concerns as the cause of kitty’s accidents. In cases where health isn’t an issue, one or more of the following tips may be your answer.

6 Litter Box Secrets Your Cat Wants You to Know

1. It’s not about what you want. Consider your kitty!

When you set up your cat’s litter box, it’s easy to think about what’s most convenient for you in terms of where it should go, what size it should be, and more. But all that convenience goes right out the window if the litter box doesn’t meet with your cat’s approval. If your kitty doesn’t like using the box you provide, you’ll have to spend all kinds of time cleaning up “accidents.”

A much better approach is to think about the litter box from your cat’s perspective. What size does she need? Where would she prefer it be placed in your home? Is it clean and comfortable? Keep reading for tips on how to meet your kitty’s unique needs and standards.

2. Don’t cramp her style.

Most litter boxes are on the small side as far as cats are concerned. Sure, they fit inconspicuously into almost any corner, but cats (understandably) don’t like to be cramped or squished when they do their business. They need space.

But how do you know what’s the right fit? The ideal size of your next litter box can be measured from the length from your cat’s nose to the tip of her tail, plus another fifty percent.

Placement within the home is also an essential thing to consider. In a helpful post from PetMD, you can read the dos and don’ts of where to place your cat’s litter box. As a rule of thumb, the best places are usually “quiet, easy-to-reach corners that offer privacy,” they write.

3. Don’t cover it.

You’re not the only one concerned about smells coming from the litter box. Cats have very sensitive noses, and a covered litter box traps unpleasant odors. Can you blame cats for not wanting to spend time in a dark, smelly enclosure? When you keep it uncovered, you provide a more welcoming space, and your cat will be more inclined to return time and time again.

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4. Add the right amount of kitty litter.

How deep does kitty litter need to be? This can be a tricky balance to strike. You want enough litter so it feels soft on your kitty’s paws, but not so much that they sink right into it.

So how deep does kitty litter need to be? Ideally, between 1.5 to 2 inches. Put in too much or too little and your cat may just decide to “go” elsewhere. It can be useful to get precise about this, even using a ruler to measure the depth until you’re sure you get it just right and to your kitty’s liking.  

And another thing to get just right? Determining what cat litter is best. Choosing the right kind can make a huge difference in your cat’s life.

I never use anything but World’s Best Cat Litter. It’s a premium, natural litter made from corn, and it comes in several formulas to fit any cat family’s needs. I love that it’s 99% dust free and flushable, so clean up is a breeze. It’s also quick clumping and has outstanding odor control, which makes both cats and their humans happy.

5. Keep it clean.

Every cat wants a pristine litter box – and who could blame her? Keep your kitty’s litter box clean and fresh by scooping it out twice a day and giving it a thorough cleaning (and new litter) at least once a month. Animal Planet provides a useful guide on how to safely clean your cat’s litter box and get started on creating a fresh, rejuvenating environment for your kitty today! 

Speaking of keeping things clean, I recommend having a good enzymatic pet odor and stain remover on hand at all times for when accidents do occur. My personal need for an all natural, safe cleaner that didn’t have harsh odors or chemicals led me to develop my own enzyme cleaner, Kinderbean No Stress Mess Eraser.

It keeps my home clean and smelling fresh while naturally discouraging my cat from revisiting the scene of the accident. I also use it to clean Olivia’s litter box after emptying it. Since it’s bio-enzymatic, it actually destroys the bacteria that causes the unwanted odor.

6. Do cats share litter boxes? Hint: one litter box isn’t enough.

Photo of Kinderbean Dog and Cat Urine Stain and Odor Eliminator

Do cats share litter boxes? Does your cat need more than one litter box?

Like many things related to cats, there’s no one definitive answer. Much depends on your cat’s unique personality. However, it seems clear enough that most cats prefer a multi-box household.

When planning and buying, a good guiding principle is to have one box per cat in your family, plus one. For example, if you live in a two-cat house, you need to make room for three litter boxes. This allows each cat to make a litter box their own, have plenty of space, and the privacy they often hold dear.  

These 6 secrets offer a win-win scenario for everyone involved. Your cat is sure to feel calmer, more comfortable, and more at home – and you’ll rest easier knowing you’ve created a healthy and constructive environment for your kitty. Plus, there will undoubtedly be fewer accidents around the house! 

Want more tips and tricks for keeping your cat healthy today, tomorrow, and always? Download my free monthly cat health checklist.

cta check your cat's health with this free checklist

Chew on this: I may receive a small commission for affiliate links, but all products I “dig up” are ones I paw-thentically love!

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

In 2022, she launched to help pet parents keep pet homes clean -- to love more, stress less.

Kristen is married and lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her dog Tulip.

This Post Has 112 Comments

  1. Well since one or two of the semi-feral catz that share my home with me….oops I mean their home with me…often use my pile of VIPs (Very Important Papers) as a commode; I think I’ll take your advise TigerHaywood and look for paper litter. ~~dru~~

    1. Hi Abigail,

      You are too funny! Yes, these tips in this article have solve many litter box problems! We use World’s Best Cat Litter at my house. It’s natural, dust free, cats love it and it’s all natural!


  2. Our little feral rescue would go outside the box, right next to it. Took a bit to figure out that she would not go in with the lid on, only when the lid was off. I thought it was litter box not clean enough but after some thought I noticed that she ran to the litter box to use it while I was cleaning it out. Took away the lid and problem solved. I think she was stressed because she could not see her total surroundings, being a feral she probably needed to see the whole area to makes sure no one could sneak up on her.

  3. I literally cannot thank you enough! I have 4 cats, because I foster on top of having my own fur babies. I have been using pine pellets for months now. One bag lasts us over a month with 4 cats. We were spending 15 dollars a week or more on litter. Plus, it smells nice and is wayyyy easier to deal with. So, I should have said thank you already. I had to come back today though to say thanks, because I recently took in a litter of puppies. Yes, puppies. After weeks of dealing with thier mess, I decided to try something. I got a plastic pool, and filled the bottom couple of inches with pine pellets. The puppies love it! They have went potty in the pine pellets every single time. It has been a life saver for me and my family, fur kids included. THANK YOU

    1. Hi Skylar!
      Thank you for letting me know! It’s always so nice when people write to tell me I was able to help them! Best of luck with those puppies! They are professional mess makers! Thanks for doing all you do to help animals:)

  4. These are all great! I have a litter Robot and I really like it. I keep it clean and my cat likes it too! I like that she steps on a clean bed of litter, every time she uses it. The only problem that I have with it is, she still kicks the litter out of the entrance. I got the door guard for it and that seems to help!

    1. My cats only use 2 of the boxes. They only pee in the one in my bedroom and not all of them use it. But they all use the one in the closet for all business.

  5. Having multiple cats in the household we provide litter boxes cut from plastic storage bins giving them the privacy and space they desire. Some cats like lots of litter in the box a couple of them don’t want to bury their feet in the litter. It is a trial and error but you can find the perfect balance if you keep experimenting

    1. Hi Kathy,

      You are right – every cat is different! Privacy and space are important especially in multi-cat households to ensure our kitties feel comfortable 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, Kathy!


  6. I never knew you weren’t supposed to cover their boxes. I’ve never had an open box. I’ll have to take the lid off mine and see if my kitty is happier!

    1. Angelica,

      I am glad that this helped you learn something new! Many cat parents don’t know that their kitties don’t like a covered box. Let me know how it goes when you take off the lid 🙂


  7. Many of my cats are seniors now and I’ve had to add “dog” litter boxes (and newspaper pellet litter – so they won’t kick it all out of the low sided box).

    1. As our kitties get older, it is important that we listen to them and adapt to their needs. Thank you for sharing, and I am glad you have found a solution!


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