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5 Tips for Controlling Cat Litter Tracking and Scattering

Eek! How to keep litter from tracking? Our team came up with five solutions to combat your cat's litter tracking.

Caroline Golon  |  Jun 21st 2017

Cat litter tracking is one of the most common complaints cat owners have. No matter where you keep your cat’s litter box, somehow litter ends up everywhere — on the floors, in your shoes, even in your bed! There’s nothing quite like having to brush litter bits off the bottoms of your feet before you put on your socks.

Litter tracking is caused by bits of litter sticking to your cat’s paws and fur after she has used the litter box. Many cats also like to “dig to China” in their boxes, kicking and throwing litter all over the floor. Then they walk through the mess and bring it to every corner of your home.

A gray tabby cat in a litter box.

Yes, it’s pretty nasty, but you can reduce the amount of litter tracking throughout your living space with these tips.

1. Reconsider the cat litter you’re using

Some cat litters track more than others. In my (nonscientific) experience, I’ve found lightweight litters track more than heavier ones. Also, newspaper pellets don’t seem to track at all. But often we don’t have a whole lot of say in the litter our cat prefers, so let’s move on to things that might help no matter which litter you use.

2. Use your broom and vacuum — a lot

It may go without saying, but keeping on top of the litter scatter in the immediate vicinity of the box keeps it from spreading. Sweep several times a day and you will have less of a problem. I have a broom and dustpan next to the litter boxes and a vacuum in the closet nearby. One woman told me her nonelectric roller vacuum does a great job as well.

A gray cat peers over the edge of a box.

3. Contain your cat’s litter box

If you have a spare bathroom, the tub or shower stall is a great place for the box. If your cat is older and arthritic, or a kitten, the tub may not be a great option, but for others it’s definitely worth a try.

You might also consider investing in a plastic kiddie pool. Put the litter box inside the pool (no water of course, ha ha) and your cat can kick litter to his heart’s content and it will stay confined in the pool. Then, theoretically, by the time your cat hops out of the pool, much of that litter will have fallen off his paws on the way out.

Another option is to take a large storage tub with high sides and cut an entry/exit hole in one side. Be sure to sand the edges of the hole so your sweetie doesn’t cut himself getting in and out. Put the litter box inside the storage tub so once the cat is finished with the box, he still has a few steps to make before he’s out on your floors.

Trays underneath the litter box can also help. I’ve used a large plastic washing machine tray under the litter box, which helped keep the scatter from spreading.

If you want to get fancy, consider “cat furniture” options like the Kattbank bench. It’s a decorative bench that houses a litter box and plastic grid that keeps litter inside; the cat has to cross the plastic grid to exit the bench, so the scatter is contained.

4. Rethink your cat’s litter box

High-sided litter boxes like NVR Miss help tremendously with the litter scatter issue (and with messy pee-ers, too). For a do-it-yourself option, you can use the deep, high-sided plastic storage box mentioned above and pour litter directly in it to use as your litter box.

A fluffy gray cat in a NVR Miss litter box.

Photo via NVR Miss

Top-entry litter boxes can help eliminate the scatter problem as well as the tracking issue. The cat can kick up litter and then hop out of the top, hopefully leaving most of that litter in the box.

5. Employ rugs and mats to help stop litter tracking

There are plenty of rugs and mats available designed specifically to catch the litter stuck to your cat’s paws when he exits the litter box. You can choose from rubber mats with grooves to sisal rugs and everything in between. Even a regular throw rug or piece of carpet remnant works well to trap litter bits. Deep, shaggy bathmats are also effective.

When choosing the size of mat or carpet, consider having your cat “walk the red carpet” after he uses the box. Lay a carpet runner from the litter box extending out about three feet, so the litter has plenty of time to dislodge from your cat’s paws.

Any one of these suggestions will help reduce the amount of litter scatter and tracking in your home. But, like litter box scooping and early morning wake ups, a small amount of litter tracking is a way of life for a cat owner. But don’t you think it’s worth it?