Cats are disgusting
July 31, 2019 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Trying to figure out how to keep kitty litter contained in a small bathroom in a small apartment. There's not really room for a separate bathmat and litter tracking mat. Is it gross to just have one big mat in the litter-tracking texture (like this) assuming I keep it clean?

- I don't personally think it's gross, but I want guests to be comfortable using the bathroom. If I have overnight guests, I could put out a bathmat that gets hung up when not in active use.
- Hardwood floors in rest of apartment, considering a carpeted runner in hallway outside bathroom for additional litter mitigation.
- Cat has excellent toilet habits but kicks litter around enthusiastically. Don't want a hooded box because some cats don't like them, I like the ease of cleaning (multiple times daily: see "small apartment"), and it's just a small space and the hood would take up more of it. I'd also still have to have something to catch litter at the entrance of a hooded box, and there's not much room for cleverly angling it.
- The 4' x 3' mat would cover the bathroom floor from tub to toilet, including under the sink (litter box sits next to tub). If I got a smaller-but-usable litter mat, most of the bathmat would be under the sink and unusable anyhow.
- I don't like beige, but would probably get that color for better litter camouflage between vacuuming.
- Currently have an IKEA Toftbo (microfiber bathmat with nubbly texture) and no litter mat. I shake it out when it gets littery and use a small broom near daily to control litter. I wash the bathmat every few weeks when the cat hair gets noticeable.
- I don't have in unit laundry and have limited storage space generally, so just having a million bathmats I change frequently isn't a good solution.
posted by momus_window to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My experience is the litter mat you link is not that great at catching litter, and has a texture I don't like on my bare feet. This litter mat is the one I like. It is soft and squishy and so so so easy to clean. You might need 2 to cover your area?

I am a cat person so would not be weirded out by you having a litter mat instead of a bathmat as long as it was clean. If you have an overnight guest who cares, you could toss a towel down on top of it for them to stand on after shower.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:08 AM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

We also have the challenge of small home + cats + literally no other place to put the litter box, and our solution is to keep the litter box inside the tub. Yes, it is a daily chore to take it out and wipe up the scattered litter every single time I take a shower, but for us it is the only solution that keeps the loose litter contained in a reasonable way.

Regular day-to-day guests then don't have to interact with the litter box at all -- I keep the shower curtain closed.

When overnight guests need to take a shower I say, "Hang on, let me get that for you" and do all the prep work, leaving the litter box out on the bathroom floor, or taking it, temporarily, out of the bathroom altogether.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:13 AM on July 31, 2019 [7 favorites]

Have you tried a top-entry litter box? It seemed weird to me, but my current set of cats were insane about scattering litter everywhere, and kept on tackling the cover off the front-entry box I had so they could make more of a mess. With the top-entry box, the top of the box is the mat. (This works because my cats are young and skinny -- it might not be good for an older, less spry cat.)
posted by LizardBreath at 9:30 AM on July 31, 2019 [7 favorites]

Is your cat really picky about litter, or could you switch to a lighter-weight litter like World's Best? My kitty (who sadly and unexpectedly passed away earlier this year) was terrible about kicking clay-based litters all over everywhere when he was digging in his box, but when I switched to World's Best it mostly stayed contained with just a small litter mat under the box.
posted by capricorn at 9:38 AM on July 31, 2019

Tiny bathroom/tiny apartment here. I started with no mat, then got the kind of mat you’re looking at, and most recently got one like @misanthropicsarah’s, and that seems to be the best overall solution to keeping the mess contained and is itself much easier to clean than the other style. I still keep a little dustpan in the bathroom. Also agree about potentially experimenting with litter types, though I haven’t found much difference.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:48 AM on July 31, 2019

If I were a guest who wanted to take a shower, I'd be skeeved out at walking over a litter tracking mat studded with litter, in my bare feet.

I have an IKEA BLASKA dustpan in each bathroom with a litter box, and I make it a habit to sweep up whenever I use the bathroom, especially in the one that guests primarily use.

I also have litter-tracking mats in bathrooms that guests don't use often; for me they let me skip a couple days of sweeping without getting too annoyed about kitty grit, but I still have to sweep.

(I also use the clevercat top-entry litterbox, but with the lid off because my kitty doesn't like it. The high sides help control litter spread, but not completely. When guests visit we put the lid on the one in the guest bathroom, so they're not staring at litter.)

Also: your cat is absolutely beautiful!
posted by homodachi at 9:50 AM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don’t own cats and I don’t know what perspective you’re looking for but I would be totally grossed out my this.

I think a better investment would be a stick vacuum that you keep by the bathroom and are constantly vacuuming
posted by raccoon409 at 9:58 AM on July 31, 2019

Do you have a regular litter box or a deep one? The deep ones are pretty useful (and still easy to clean) if you don't want to go with a lidded box. I think if it were me I'd be putting the litter box in the tub unless you're someone who hosts overnight guests multiple times per month. And agree with others, have some sort of bathmat that people can use that goes over whatever you wind up using because even if there's only a piece or two of little on your mat, it will still stick to wet feet and be sort of oogy.
posted by jessamyn at 10:06 AM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

I dislike stepping on litter with bare dry feet, but it’s way way worse with wet feet, so I would be pretty grossed out by a litter mat in place of a bath mat. However, if you showed me where I could set the litter mat during my shower and provided a regular bath mat, I would be happy to sweep up excess litter, put out the bath mat pre-shower, and switch it back to the litter mat after.

If your main objection to covered litter boxes is ease of scooping, I’d check out this So Phresh top entry box - the top lifts up in a way that dumps excess litter back in the box and makes it really easy to scoop. We have two cats and three of these boxes, they seem to be happy with them. It doesn’t eliminate litter getting on the floor, but it significantly reduces it.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:11 AM on July 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't want to walk on a litter mat or expect my guests to walk on a litter mat.

My cats also track World's Best litter a lot less than clay litter, maybe because the particles are bigger and don't adhere to their feet as much. (It also smells a lot better).

Litter mats have never solved the problem for me. The litter gets outside of the mat anyway, and in a small space where I would have to walk on it - just no. If they work at all they're impossible to clean. So, I have a pair of flip-flops outside the bathroom door, and I use a handheld vac to tidy up before I shower.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:12 AM on July 31, 2019

I live in a small place as well, and have not found an absolutely ideal solution for the litter box. I am personally grossed out by the cat box in the bathroom (but I am unusually squeamish kind of in general, so I may not be a good representative sample of what most people think.) So I offer a couple of alternate suggestions in case you didn't already think of them.

What we did was put the litter box in the coat closet. We removed the door and hung a curtain over the doorway so she could get in and out. We use over-door hooks to hang coats on and just let the closet be a dedicated cat potty.

Litter box furniture is another idea, if you have a spot for a table or a plant. I am seriously considering this if I can find a spot in our new place when we move.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:13 AM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sadly, litter all over is just part of the deal, I'm afraid. Litter mats are nice, but you'll still have to clean them off occasionally, and I can guarantee there will still be litter away from the mat. We eventually went with a deep litter box (actually, a re-purposed large Rubbermaid Roughneck storage box.) I worked for the most part, but litter will still stick to kitty's paws, so there will still be litter outside the box.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:14 AM on July 31, 2019

Litter mat + bath mat for guests would be my solution. Is there a place to hang the bathmat that you can reach before having to step on top of the litter mat? If not, maybe you could install a hook near the door for the mat.
posted by soelo at 10:33 AM on July 31, 2019

So, if the litter box goes in the tub, do you expect your cat to get its delicate feet wet to use the box after you shower? Dry the shower? How do you keep from forgetting to take the box out before you turn the shower on?

- I used World's Best for a bit and now use a wheat litter, they seem equivalent in scatter.
- I got a deeper box and it doesn't seem much better.
- My beautiful, disgusting cat is 10 years old and not a big jumper.
- She is also an excellent water-drinker, so she's in there scattering litter and tracking it around 3+ times a day.
- Closets are not a viable option for a variety of reasons.
posted by momus_window at 10:44 AM on July 31, 2019

I recently ordered a mat from an ad I saw on Instagram (seriously), and it's been AMAZING.

The structure is the key here: it's made of two panels sewn together on 3 sides. The bottom is solid, but the top is a grid. Litter collects in the interior, and when you tidy up you just dump it out (through the open end) back into the box.

Our box is, for reasons of urban floorplan, immediately outside our bedroom, so before this mat were were basically vacuuming the bedroom every 36 hours. This mat has drastically reduced that labor burden.

Like I said, I got ours from a somewhat sketchy looking Instagram ad, but it's just like this one at Amazon.
posted by uberchet at 11:04 AM on July 31, 2019 [7 favorites]

What I did in similar circumstances was to put the litter box inside the vanity on top of the litter mat, push it to one side and then take off the opposite door (our's had two). This kept the litter out of site, kept most of the scatter inside the vanity and made it easy to sweep whatever escaped. We had to store backup TP, etc., elsewhere, but that was a small price to pay.
posted by carmicha at 11:05 AM on July 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have one of those mats. It does an admirable job containing litter particulate in the space we have for the cat's litter box (in what used to be our pantry), but here is an important caveat for your projected usage: It gets absolutely ruined with dirty liquids. We had a cat barf incident on it and that thing was IMPOSSIBLE to get totally clean, even after scrubbing with an old toothbrush and soaking in diluted bleach, because of the very texture that made it great for litter. Add any liquid to the mix - cat pee, barf, a runny poop... the whole mat is ruined.

My mom has a catbox in her bathroom and honestly it's just a catbox in a bathroom. Wet feet coming out of the shower are going to come into contact with pieces of litter, unless you go full college style flipflops for showering. Bathroom humidity makes the smell worse unless you keep the door open at all times, which is an option for my mom since she lives alone, but take that into consideration if you ever need to close your bathroom door.

If it were my tiny apartment, I'd probably be looking for an opportunity to keep the catbox literally anywhere else. A corner of the living room behind a tiny shoji screen made out of a set of cheap window shutters from Home Depot plus a Litter Genie would be a better solution in my mind than the bathroom, for dedicated catbox scoopers. YMMV obviously. Good luck.

P.S. My husband's cat, like yours, is also both beautiful and disgusting. Thanks for including the pic!
posted by juniperesque at 11:31 AM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

We use a top-entry box, which cuts down on scattered litter significantly. It's very easy to clean because the top is hinged - much easier than front-entry boxes with lids, where you have to remove the whole lid. If your cat isn't able to easily jump up onto one of these, you could get a small stair or two to help her.

I hear your reluctance to change litter box styles rather than putting out a mat, but this would make a huge difference.

If you really don't want to get a different type of box, I don't think the best solution to your problem is an all-in-one bathmat and litter mat. To me, stepping on a littery mat would be grosser than stepping on a littery floor. Instead, I'd just get a dedicated broom for the bathroom, leave it in there, and do a quick sweep whenever you have company. You can find extremely compact brooms for this - check out places that sell RV accessories, which are designed to be folded down and stashed away in all kinds of inventive ways. Here's an example.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:31 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

We have our pan in the basement, but the dear departed Comma was the Queen of Missing Aim so we had one of these underneath it - a washing machine drain pan. We hose it off periodically in the back yard.
posted by Peach at 12:42 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hi, it's me again with the litter box in the tub.

I do not dry out the shower. Sometimes the cats do jump right in when I'm done -- guess it must not bother them too much? Or maybe other times they specifically wait until it's a bit drier? I don't know, but it's not a problem. (Meaning, they're not peeing/pooping elsewhere.)

I don't forget to take the box out before I turn on the shower because...I just don't? I mean, it's right there in front of my face as I lean over to turn on the water? It's a tiny bathroom.

Good luck! :)
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:04 PM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had to put in a multi-modal solution to this. My cat isn't even that enthusiastic about flinging the litter around but it still is prone to getting tracked out. I have:
  • A small apartment bathroom and a refusal to put anyone's toilet, human or feline, in an area other than the bathroom.
  • A litter box with high sides. Side entry, no cover.
  • A litter mat that I put partway under the litter box, such that it makes a border around the box but does not cover the whole bathroom floor. I don't like the texture of the mat on bare feet so I don't want to walk on it myself (also its purpose is to retain cat litter so yuck).
  • A bathmat that I put down when showering and hang on the side of the tub when not in use.
  • A rug in the entryway just outside the bathroom. I can vacuum this or pick it up and shake it out if needed.
  • A small handheld vacuum that I store in the vanity cabinet when not in use. I vacuum the area daily and as needed if the cat makes a mess. This makes a huge difference, no need to haul out the full sized vacuum or fuss with a broom and dustpan.
All together this keeps the cat litter pretty well contained in the bathroom and what does escape is then caught by the entryway rug.
posted by 4rtemis at 2:52 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

My cat does this! Our solution is to have a Dyson stick vacuum hanging in the bathroom next to her litterbox, and we just vacuum the bathroom floor 2+ times per day. Sounds annoying, but A) nothing is worse than litter in your feet and B) actually it's not that annoying. Takes literally 30 seconds to pull the Dyson off the wall, vacuum the floor, and put it back.

We used to use the Dyson for our whole apartment, but our (new) cat is TOO FLUFFY and her shedding ruins normal vacuums. So we upgraded to a Riccar - banishing the Dyson to the bathroom has worked perfectly.
posted by weed donkey at 10:10 PM on July 31, 2019

We have a wooden mat in front of our litter box that we stand on to wash our hands and get in and out of the bath/shower, as the litterbox is under the sink and the cats are flingers. Most of the litter falls through the holes during flinging, and the change in flooring makes me look a bit more carefully when I step, so I'm more likely to notice if there's anything on it (which i can avoid or tip off).
posted by kjs4 at 10:45 PM on July 31, 2019

I would get a cheap hooded box and just cut a big skylight in the top with a utility knife for scooping without taking the top off. This at least limits the area where litter can escape, plus it might make a reluctant cat more likely to use a covered box
posted by genmonster at 10:25 AM on August 1, 2019

In retrospect, putting the litter box in the part of the apartment that's designed to be hosed down and I only spend ~10 minutes a day in makes perfect sense. Cat seems fine with post-shower tub puddles, I am happy not to buy another cat-related doodad.

Y'all with your vanities and unused electrical outlets and places for things savor your luxurious modern bathrooms. (I enjoy my 50s tile and fixtures, but there are tradeoffs.)
posted by momus_window at 9:32 PM on August 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

I will totally remember this solution if I'm ever in an apartment with no other good litter box space!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:17 AM on August 2, 2019

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