The Pro's And Con's Of Covered Cat Litter Boxes.
Your cat is a home loving animal and does his or her business just where it should be done right there in the litter pan. Good cat.
The open pan however, is just that. It's functional, but that's about it.
There's no disguising what it is and, let's be honest, an open litter pan is not the sweetest smelling thing in your home.
You have been hearing about enclosed pans.
You've been told that a hooded box will cut down the smell and that cats appreciate the privacy. Is this true?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
There are advantages and disadvantages, pro's and con's to covered boxes.
And the fact is some cats will simply refuse to use them.
Advertisements for covered cat litter boxes, almost always tell us how these boxes reduce the smell of cat waste in your home.
And, to a point, that is true.
But an enclosed cat litter box is not magical. It cannot actually make cat pee and poop smell less.
What it does do is trap some of the odor inside the box, so it is not so noticeable around your home.
That's a pleasant bonus for you, but not such a pleasant bonus for your cat who has to enter the covered box with that odor trapped in there.
Remember, a cat's sense of smell is way more powerful than a human's. Small wonder that some cats will not use an enclosed box.
Some covered cat litter boxes are fitted with charcoal air filters. The filters help to reduce the odor for humans. They may even help to reduce the odor inside the box for the cats.
The one true and tested way to keep litter box odor to a minimum is to scoop and clean as frequently as possible.
To us humans it seems logical that a cat would prefer somewhere private to do his or her toilet. After all there are probably not many of us that would be happy to use the bathroom with the door wide open.
It is true that many cats do seem to prefer the privacy of covered litter boxes and so happily use them.
Other cats seem to prefer the openness of an unenclosed litter pan, it may be that they feel claustrophobic, or trapped, using a hooded box.
One advantage that covered cat litter boxes have over open boxes, is that they really can reduce the amount of litter that gets kicked out.
Most cats will dig around in the litter both before and after doing their business.
This of course means that invariably some litter ends up on your flooring or carpeting and, unless cleaned up straight away, gets tracked all over your home.
An enclosed cat litter box will not stop this problem completely, but will greatly cut down on the amount of litter kicked out. A litter mat will help stop the little that does get out being tracked all over the room.
It's not only litter that can get out of the box. Sometimes a cat will decide to do their toilet near the edge of the open litter pan, the cat may be inside the pan but their rear end is not quite in!
The result . . . pee or poop down the side of the pan and on your flooring, yuck.
Covered cat litter boxes do solve this problem almost completely. Why almost? Because with some designs, if the cat pees against the side a little, can leak out where the hood joins the pan. An open pan with very high sides is another way of solving this problem.
Just because the litter box is advertised as a 'large' size doesn't mean that it is in fact what you may think of as large. Check the dimensions, it may be that your cat needs the 'jumbo' or 'extra large' size.
With covered cat litter boxes, size is indeed important. You have to ensure that the box is big enough for your cat to use comfortably.
Even a covered litter box with a pan the same dimensions as an open litter pan that your cat has been happily using for years, may not be suitable.
An enclosed box does not give the cat much wriggle room. For example, many cats lean forward when doing their 'business'.
With an open pan, leaning forwards is usually no problem, but in an enclosed litter box the sides may prevent the cat from doing so unless the cat is smack in the center of the pan. The result is the cat has less usable space, and if there is no usable space left the cat may just go outside the box.
Height is also very important.
Cats come in many sizes, a covered litter box may have been made to suit a cat of average height, if your cat is even just a little taller she or he may find using it awkward.
Cats like to select just the right spot to go, to do that they have to maneuver their way around the pan. That's not easy to do if the hood is too low. It pays to ensure the enclosed box that you select is of a suitable size for your cat.
Cat lovers that also have a dog as a pet point out another advantage of covered litter boxes. They help to prevent their dog eating their cat's poop. Yes, some dogs like to do that as strange and disgusting as it may sound.
Actually, some dogs will not only eat their own waste but that of many other animals too. Cat poop is a favorite, one reason that dogs eat it is because a cat's waste is rich in fiber.
So what do you do? A covered litter box could reduce the special aroma of cats in your home, or it could keep the odor in the box making it so unpleasant your cat refuses to use it.
On the one hand your cat may appreciate the privacy afforded by covered cat litter boxes.
On the other hand an enclosed litter box may make your cat feel vulnerable or claustrophobic.
If you don't try it you will never know. Here is a suggestion. Don't invest in a sophisticated covered box, try one with a simple design where the cover lifts off the pan. Make sure the box is amply big enough for your cat.
Give things a fair trial, if it doesn't work out then you are not too much out of pocket. And you can always discard the hood and your cat can have use of the open pan.
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