Innovations in kitty chamberpots
November 24, 2020 4:43 AM   Subscribe

Oh cat servants of the green: Tell me of your favorite litterbox solutions!

It's been 12 years since I had a Catboss and my how the litterbox market has changed. I will have one (1) cat in about 700 square feet.

I realize that this choice is highly dependent on the preferences of both human and Catboss. But I think this particular hivemind will have some great ideas.

No cat tax available yet! I want to lay in supplies before I head to a shelter.
posted by Sheydem-tants to Pets & Animals (32 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Maizy flushable biodegradable litter! So handy. And an anti tracking mat with soda bicarb sprinkled under
posted by MarianHalcombe at 4:54 AM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

We just got a new cat and switched to pine pellet litter because that’s what she was used to. And oh my god, it’s been a revelation. SO much less mess than regular clumping litter. Some pellets end up on the floor, sure, but they’re big, visible, and easy to pick up by hand. Our old clumping litter was a disaster in that respect — tiny particles that need to be vacuumed up and even still, will be in the carpet FOREVER.

Smell-wise, I can’t tell much of a difference.

Plus the pine is super cheap — we get huge bags from a feed store, labeled as animal bedding.
posted by liet at 5:04 AM on November 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

We just switched to a top-entry litter box and it has been a major improvement to our quality of life. Litter tracking has been reduced by like 90%.
posted by la glaneuse at 5:12 AM on November 24, 2020 [8 favorites]

Giant Rubbermaid style plastic tub. Cut a hole in the side if your cats are dumb like mine. Or cut a hole in the lid if they'll jump down into the box. Easy, cheap, spacious.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:55 AM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've become a fan of the iPrimio steel boxes. They don't pick up smell, they don't warp, they're easy to clean (and rarely need it), and they shouldn't ever need to be replaced.

PioneerPet's Smart Cat litter is pricey, but in my opinion worth it. Traps smell, clumps reliably, lasts a long time.
posted by humbug at 6:04 AM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

We just got a new cat and switched to pine pellet litter because that’s what she was used to.

We had pine pellets. The particles, once they get in your laundry, never wash out of microfiber cleaning cloths. To a lesser extent, they'd impregnate cotton toweling.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:25 AM on November 24, 2020

OmegaCat litter boxes - make sure to get one big enough for your cat and use clumping litter. They have a cover and you flip them over to sift the litter and the used stuff goes into a tray you can empty.
posted by soelo at 6:41 AM on November 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I will never go back to anything not Worlds Best Cat Litter . Corn based, flushable if you need to (I dont, but you could...), clumps well, very little dust, doesn't track as bad as others.

My favourite litter box hack? Get a large rubbermaid tub and cut out a hole for the cat.
posted by cgg at 6:45 AM on November 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

I like the Tidy Cat Breeze system. I only have one cat, but I got the large box. There is some tracking of pellets, but it's much reduced since I turned the opening part toward the wall. It smells when he actually poops, but otherwise there's practically no smell. The puppy pad thing at the bottom is amazing. There's this hack I've seen to use pine pellets and regular puppy pads, but I haven't tried it.
posted by hollyholly at 6:58 AM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Top entry box with Worlds Best Litter and a litter catching specific mat underneath. I never see litter outside of the mat. No complaints by kitty or kitty slaves here.
posted by like_neon at 7:57 AM on November 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Litter Genie disposal system is a wonderful invention, with an airlock to keep the stink inside. It's the only thing that makes daily scooping bearable for me.

I really loved the OmegaCat, until Rufus joined our family. He just put his front paws in, then let loose on the floor, even with their largest model. He's a long cat and seems to be ok with a larger enclosure, I think what he needs is room to turn 360 without bumping the sides.

So you may need to experiment a bit to find something the cat will use.
posted by buildmyworld at 8:34 AM on November 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

Speaking of accidents, I'm a fan of Rocco & Roxie's enzymatic cleaning spray. Nature's Miracle has been useless since the formula changed.

If anybody has a fave litter mat, my ears are open, because I don't love mine.
posted by humbug at 9:19 AM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Top entry, huge Rubbermaid bin, but I use Swheat Scoop instead of Worlds Best, but I make it DEEP, like about 10 inches of litter, so the pee clumps into big wads that don't touch the bottom so I don't leave any stuck to the container.
posted by The otter lady at 9:20 AM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding Tidy Cat Breeze. When my dad, who hates cats and says they make everything smell bad, visited from out of town (in the Before Times), he spent several hours sitting ten feet from the litter box. He didn’t know it was there until the cat got in it and did his thing. Dad was pleasantly surprised.
posted by okayokayigive at 10:29 AM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Iris Top Entry Cat Box and Naturally Fresh Walnut Shell Cat Litter has been the perfect no track, no smell, flushable combination for me and the Empress.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 10:30 AM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Metal! Get a stainless litter pan and metal scoop.

I like Dr Elsey's clumping litter, its very, very low dust.
posted by dazedandconfused at 11:32 AM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Speaking as someone who has gone through MANY litter box scenarios over my 2 cat's lives (they are now 12), here's where I have landed.

Not the most economical option, but I'm a big fan of the modkat litter box line. My cats tend to pee in the corners and sides of boxes, and also somehow pee upward at times, so I needed a box with high sides and no seams. It also means I have been unable to successfully utilize boxes that are built to roll and catch debris - they usually end up with stuff stuck in places that I can't dislodge. I tried their fancier boxes but ended up getting the flip, and it's been perfect for me. It's easy to simply lift the top and scoop without taking anything off/apart, and it's relatively attractive for a litter box. Their liners are also pricey but work great - my cats will scratch straight through a plastic liner and render them useless, and they cannot tear the modkat gray liners.

I love the idea of top entry litter boxes and even bought the iris to try before the flip, but my cats couldn't be retrained to use it. Maybe if you start with one of those, they would take to it? Downside for me would be taking the top off to scoop - I've gotten very spoiled by the fold back element of the flip - but I love that the Iris doesn't look like a litter box.

Regarding litter type, I have tried many. Ultimately, my favorite for odor management and ease of use is silica litter that is super fine like sand, but then a friend warned me that they are at least suspicious in terms of lung health for both me and the cats, so I regretfully stopped using it. Now I use dr elsey's ultra unscented cat litter and I'm pretty satisfied with it - it clumps up about as well as anything I have found, which makes scooping pretty easy. I tried lots of natural litters and ultimately they just didn't work well enough for me for snowflake reasons most times. Unscented clay litter is not rejected by my cats and this one clumps well enough to keep the box at optimal cleanliness, also ensuring the cats use it, so this is what I'm sticking with.
posted by amycup at 11:50 AM on November 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Put the litter box up on a table or in a giant cabinet so that you don't have to bend over or kneel on the floor to clean it. Make a ramp or something so that the cat can easily get in/out. Put something in front so you don't have to look at it all the time.

It may seem like a lot of work, but really, think about how many times you have to clean the litter box -- and how many spare knees you have.
posted by amtho at 12:11 PM on November 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Ours is inside a hider very similar to this, which was a huge life improvement for us in the days when the litter box had to be in the living room. It looks nicer and cut down on the litter tracking because the interior compartments prevented the cat from leaping out of the box after use.


The best ever improvement to my life as a cat servant has been moving into a house with a basement, putting a cat door in the basement door and putting the litter box in the basement. He has that much more privacy (always good for cats) and we have zero litter on the floor in our actual living area.
posted by The Librarian at 1:10 PM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Without a doubt, the Litter-Robot is without peers. Works like a charm, easy on the litter, The downside is that it's expensive. Try Craigslist for a Litter-Robot II or newer. They also have excellent customer support. I previously had a LitterMaid and the cat likes to pee close to the rakes and that didn't work out well. In the littermaid, the trick was to put a plastic grocery bag in the very expensive plastic container and then just remove the bag.
posted by Ferrari328 at 1:28 PM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Nthing Tidycat Breeze. We switched several months ago because the cat was tracking the regular litter everywhere. She still kicks a few pellets out of the box every time she goes, but it's nowhere near the mess we had before (for example, the amount of cat litter she tracked onto the furniture was driving me crazy.)

I also notice less odor with the Breeze system, and scooping is less of a chore.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:10 PM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

one key that a lot of people forget is that it helps to have one more litterbox than cat.
posted by evilmonk at 2:46 PM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

You can also chalk us up for top entry, which I highly recommend, and no litter mat as a result, though I did attach a tiny brush and dustpan to the side of my Iris, which I store under the scoop hook. We also use Arm&Hammer unscented litter, which we clear into handy little brown paper bags.
posted by Violet Blue at 3:26 PM on November 24, 2020

You know when you go to Costco and you can grab what is essentially a box that is only a couple of inches tall? Or the lid to one of those sturdy boxes of paper reams? Yeah, those. I put that in front of the kitty litter box, and one of the kitty litter catch mats in front of that, so you've essentially got two ways that catch stray kitty mess as soon as the cat leaves the box. That pretty much catches the majority of any mess.
posted by HeyAllie at 3:57 PM on November 24, 2020

I asked a similar question a while ago, and as a result of that I can say that putting the box in the tub works great for containing litter. Easy to shake any tracked litter off the bath rug and then sweep up the tub. Also convenient for confining kitty to quarters, box is already in a small room with a door.

I switched to pine pellets from a wheat litter, and the tracking is less, but the shavings that make it out cannot be removed from the bath rug, not by washing or hand picking. I also use way more pine litter because it doesn’t clump, so it’s not as cheap as it seems and it entails hauling more giant litter bags home. Finally, the big pellets are loud, the cat has woken me up in the night kicking litter, SO LOUD. Writing this just convinced me to donate the huge bag I just opened and switch back to wheat or corn now instead of using it up.
posted by momus_window at 6:20 PM on November 24, 2020

If you go the Rubbermaid-type-bin route, take note that ridges in the base of the bin can make it annoying to scoop. The Container Store clear storage boxes have the smoothest bottoms I've found. If you're cutting an entrance the plastic is probably a bit harder to cut than your standard Rubbermaid, but it's possible. Our Maggie uses the Jumbo box with a step to help her get in instead of a cutout, because that sweet little jerk can pee a stream taller than she is.

Also we've gone through like 5 different boxes figuring out what worked for all feline and human parties involved. Buying them from our locally-owned pet store with a great return policy was the best litter-hack I can recommend.
posted by doift at 6:45 PM on November 24, 2020

Seconding the litter genie recommendation, you need this.
posted by JDHarper at 8:43 PM on November 24, 2020

I'm still sorting out my litter situation, but I love these top entry litter boxes. The lids collect litter (since the cats have to stop there on their way out of the box), and unlike others I've tried they actually do a great job of dumping litter back into the box when you open the lid to scoop.
posted by Metasyntactic at 9:03 PM on November 24, 2020

I'm a Feline Pine (non clumping) and All Pine Litter Box loyalist.

The pine scent is nice, the overall smell is not something I notice. I flush the poop and throw out/compost the sawdust from the bottom tray. I sometimes have to sweep up a few pellets but there is really no tracking and I have never had pellet dust get embedded in any towels, microfiber, or other laundry/fabric items.
posted by brookeb at 9:32 PM on November 24, 2020

I have a modkcat top entry, an aluminum litter scoop, and a litter genie. You will have to pry them from my cold, dead, cat-having hands before I'd give up any of these items.

We have a dog so a sturdy top entry was necessary -- she is small but merciless in her pursuit for cat cookies -- and we wanted something more stylish. The liners are basically indestructible, IME. You can wash and re-use them a few times too. It's easy to scoop. The litter genie makes scooping and disposal feel easy and keeping odors down. You can get generic refills pretty cheap. The litter scoop is non-stick and deep enough to really get under those big compacted lumps that always break apart... but the spacing is juuuust wide enough to not let all the crumbs fall through. Mine also has a foam handle.

I do have a litter tracking mat but my cat just leaps over it, for the most part. In terms of litter, I'm currently using Tidy Cats Free & Clean unscented. I am not loyal to any particular brand because frankly, the scoop is doing most of the work.
posted by sm1tten at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2020

If you’re considering flushing pet waste, check your sewer utility’s website - mine asks users not to do so, I’m guessing for sewage treatment/ pathogen reasons.
posted by momus_window at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2020

Hello, I would be happy to overthink all of this for you!

Many cat behavior experts recommend against the top entry litter boxes, or any other type of box with a cover. The poor ventilation afforded by enclosed boxes can trap odor, particularly ammonia from urine. Cats are fastidious about this kind of thing, and having to use a box with various residual waste smells can really stress them out, even if they'll use one properly. Stressed out cats are destructive and unhappy cats. It's unfortunate, because the enclosed boxes, especially the top entry kind, really do decrease the amount of litter tracking and help contain the unmistakable "CATS LIVE IN THIS HOUSE" aroma that emanates from even the most scrupulously maintained cat WC.

Pine pellets 4 life! I initially tried them because I was broke and couldn't justify spending so much on material literally meant to be pooped on. I will never, ever go back. The pine litter is cheap enough to change the whole box way more frequently than I had been doing, it doesn't track all over my house, and it smells pleasantly like fresh lumber. It's also low dust, which is great for cats and humans alike.

Additionally, I have some squicky feelings about the ethics of both clay litters and those made from more environmentally responsible sources. First, the clay used for cat litter is often excavated in ways that are devastating to the environment, and the people who do the mining, the vast majority of whom live in developing countries, are subjected to appalling, unsafe working conditions and very low wages. Bentonite clay is also not a renewable resource. The newer crystal type litter is no better on either count. My ethical qualms regarding some of the "sustainable" litters are probably a bit more beanplaty, but basically, I quit buying Swheat Scoop because I started to feel Not Good about the use of edible material as something for my cats to poop on when more than 10% of my fellow humans are chronically malnourished.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:14 PM on November 25, 2020

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