Cats feel most at ease in their home. Providing cats with a litter tray at all times gives them a clean, safe, and secure area in the place they are most relaxed. Cats that have a safe tray indoors never have to worry about getting outside in time or feel unsafe or at threat when at their most vulnerable (when pooping!).
Cats are hygienic!
They will often prefer to use a clean toilet in the comfort of their own home, rather than potentially dirty ‘public’ toileting area outside.
Keeping an eye on their health
Urine and faeces can tell us a lot about the health of our pets and is a great indicator as to how their diet is working for them and how well the cat is drinking. The litter tray is usually the first to tell us when our pets may be poorly.
What size litter tray do I need?
Cats naturally seek to dig and bury the evidence of their toileting. Trays need to be a suitable size to allow for this and to ensure a cat feels comfortable enough to toilet. A cat should be able to walk into the tray freely and turn around without touching any of the sides. This enables a cat to move around and bury their waste with ease. Remember the larger the cat, the larger the tray needed! Although kittens can be small at first, they grow quickly, so skip purchasing a kitten sized tray and go straight for adult.
Covered or uncovered tray?
The key is to work with your cat and discover what they prefer. Some cats will like the feeling of privacy that a covered tray can provide, others will like clear views around them for security. The best place to start is with an open tray – or covered tray without the lid – so that they can become comfortable with using the tray in the chosen spot of the home. Once confidently using it you can trial changing the ‘style’ of the tray.
Where to put the litter tray?
A cat will only use a litter tray if they feel safe and secure, so location must be considered carefully. Make sure it is in a quiet location, away from external doorways and high traffic areas such as hallways and corridors. Our own bathrooms are often the perfect place for a litter tray as they are often one of the cleanest rooms in the house and are occupied infrequently. Never put the litter tray in the kitchen, living room or somewhere where the cat will be easily disturbed by others in the home or strong smells.
What to put in the tray?
Each cat will have their own preference when it comes litter types – from the size of the granules to the smell. It’s important to work with your cat and start with a litter they will be familiar with. Start with the same litter they were introduced to at the breeders or rescue centre as this is what they are most familiar with. This will help build their confidence in using the tray. Once the cat is happily using the tray you may be able to explore different litter options that will work for both you and your cat. There is a huge variety of litter substrates available on the market, from clay based clumping litters to those made with corn.
How to change litter?
Cats can be wary of changes so switching their litter should be done gradually and with care to respect the cats’ preferences. Start by putting inch long strips of the new litter at the back of the tray. This allows the cat to see and to smell the new substrate whilst still allowing them to use their familiar litter to do their business. Every couple of days extend that strip of litter by 2 inches – the aim is to encourage the cat to touch the litter whilst turning, digging, and burying. Once you cat is happy to touch and use the tray with ¾ of the base covered with the new litter, the change has been a success and you can use just the new litter moving forwards. Some cats are more sensitive and may take longer to switch, the key is patience and taking it slowly.