Guide to Litter Tray Use
Litter trays replicate cats’ natural instinct to dig and cover up when they go to the toilet, so it is a great way to provide cats with a familiar toilet option, even indoors. However, there are many decisions when it comes to using a litter tray that works best for your cat, so this guide will take you through how to make those choices.
Choosing a Tray
It is suggested to get a litter tray that is 1.5 times the size of your cat so that they have room to comfortably move around. This will create a more natural environment and feeling for your cat, allowing them to move around, dig and cover without feeling restricted. The minimum size should be 49cm x 38cm, which is often the XL size. The depth of the litter should be around 3-4cm, but it is good to experiment with different depths depending on your cat. As for trays with a closed top or not, different cats have different preferences, but cats often like to see their surroundings as they use their litter trays.
When introducing a cat to a new environment, or a cat that is not used to a top, first use it without the lid and then introduce the lid and/or door in stages. Some cats can be shy and prefer a litter tray with a lid and some don’t like lids.
For sustainable options, you can look for second-hand litter trays on websites such as Ebay, Shpock, or Facebook Marketplace as they are easy to clean and re-use!
Normal Litter Tray Behaviour
The act of digging and then covering up comes naturally to cats past 7 weeks of age, so there is not often a need to train cats with litter trays aside from showing them the location when they arrive in your home. In a typical case, cats will use the litter tray 3-5 times a day and prefer to have their litter trays in a quiet and private location on the edge of their main living space (a).
There are lots of different materials that can be used for litter, such as paper, wood, sand, etc., and different cats prefer different types. Often, if a cat grew up using a certain material, they will want to continue using that. Whichever type that is, we recommend looking for a sustainable option as there are many eco-friendly companies that use biodegradable litter. Aside from the material, you will also need to choose between clumping vs non-clumping litter. Clumping litter clumps together when used, which makes scooping the dirty parts out easier. Non-clumping litter only absorbs, but does not clump, which makes it important to clean the whole litter tray more frequently.
Some of our top recommendations are World’s Best, Natusan, Cat’s Best, or Benek Corn Litter. For Natusan.co.uk sustainable litter, use LICK5 to get your first 10L bag of litter for £5, and they will donate £10 to us!
Frequency of Cleaning
Non-clumping vs clumping litter will determine the frequency and type of cleaning. If you choose clumping litter, you will need to scoop the clumps of litter out twice a day to keep the litter smooth enough for your cat to be comfortable using. Non-clumping litter should be changed more often as it is harder to get all of the dirty sections. Once a week, the whole litter should be changed and the tray should be cleaned with hot water (avoid harsh chemicals).
In many cases, people think that putting a plastic liner on the bottom of the little box will help, but it does the opposite. Cats usually scratch and bury their pee and poop, and here the plastic is just going to make their claws stuck in the liner, and thanks to that, they start feeling stressed and uncomfortable. Also, the cat's urine starts smelling worst. When the plastic has folded, the urine gets trapped in between because it's not designed to absorb any smell; it makes it more potent.
These and more reasons are why we don't recommend it.
Number of Trays and Location
The ideal number of trays in a home is one per cat, plus 1 extra. For example, placing two litter trays in separate areas of a home can provide one cat with options and make them feel more comfortable. For 2 or more cats, an extra litter tray allows for more space between the cats in order to avoid conflict over toilet territory.
It is also best to position litter trays in corners so that the cat feels protected from danger while using it. Especially if there are multiple cats, it might add a sense of protection while they are vulnerable.
Often these boxes promise more than they do. The costs are very high, and if you are looking to buy one so that you don't have to wash your cat's litter daily, it still requires daily cleaning and is more time-consuming than a regular litter box. Also, many cats of larger sizes are often uncomfortable both because of the reduction in size and the machine's noise. In turn, cats either do not want to poop there or do not want to go to the toilet.
Your Cat Won’t Use the Tray?
If your cat won’t use the litter tray, there are a few reasons that you may need to look into. Firstly, a change in routine or environment, such as using different litter, a new tray, or changing location. Think about what changes have happened, has the litter tray moved place? If possible, try to return to the routine before these changes and see if your cat will feel more comfortable.
Perhaps the cat was introduced to a big space too early, make the space smaller to ensure the cat knows where the litter tray is and slowly start introducing him/her to the new space.