Cats and Cleaning
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5 Tips to Control Cat Litter Tracking

Cat litter tracking is a fact of life for every cat parent, but there are some easy steps you can take to control litter scatter and mess.

JaneA Kelley  |  Feb 22nd 2018


There are few things less appealing than walking around your house and feeling little grains of kitty litter under your feet. Of course, every cat supply company knows this, and they’ve created all manner of gadgets, geegaws and widgets to control cat litter tracking. But I’ve got some additional ideas to curb cat litter tracking that I think you’ll love.

1. Use a high-sided litter box

A high-sided litter box.

A high-sided litter box may help control cat litter tracking. Photography ©JoSchw10 | Thinkstock.

If your cat likes to dig and dig and dig, she’s probably scattering kitty litter all over the place as she does so. One of the best solutions I’ve seen for dealing with a “litter miner” is to use a high-sided storage tote with an entrance cut into one side. Sand the plastic around the edges of the opening to prevent discomfort and injuries.

2. Get a good litter mat

A cat litter mat.

A good litter mat can also help control cat litter tracking. Photography courtesy catsrule.com.

A good litter mat must be at least a foot longer than your box to give your cat enough space to get the litter off her paws before she makes her rounds of the house. My favorite to control cat litter tracking — and I’ve been playing the litter mat game for years — is the type that has a surface with a texture like that of a loofah sponge. It traps the litter crumbs as the cat walks out of the box.

3. Keep a vacuum cleaner or broom handy

Litter sweep and pan.

Keeping a small broom handy can make litter cleanup quick and easy. Photography ©amstockphoto | Thinkstock.

Even with a litter mat and a high-sided litter box, you’ll still have some cat litter tracking. It’s a fact of cat guardian life. So keep a small cordless vacuum cleaner or a broom and dustpan near the box. Every day, give the area around your litter box a quick sweep or vacuum, and that will go a long way toward containing the cat litter. (Never sweep or vacuum while your cat is using the litter box.)

4. Think about changing litter types

A cat digging in a litter box.

Some litter types control tracking better than others. Photography ©absolutimages | Thinkstock.

Cats are notorious for having very strong litter preferences, but some types of litter track less than others. Some lightweight litters track more than heavier ones, so consider that when thinking about your cat’s litter box. If you do decide to change your cat’s litter, do it very slowly; otherwise you might end up with a litter box avoidance problem on your hands.

5. Contain the box

Litter in a pan.

Contain your cat’s litter box for a better way to curb cat litter tracking. Photography ©AH86 | Thinkstock.

Try putting the litter box in a bathtub or in the middle of a large washing machine tray to keep the litter near the box rather than all over the floor. If your cat is really big, and you have the extra space, you could even try putting the litter box inside a kiddie pool. One note of caution: This is not a good idea if you have elderly cats or kittens, though, because they’ll have trouble getting to it.

Ultimately, cat litter tracking is something we all have to deal with, but these tips will help keep it contained to one small area.

Large litter mat alternatives

Litter.

There are a few large litter mat alternatives to help control cat litter tracking, too. Photography ©AH86 | Thinkstock.

If you can’t find a litter mat big enough to fit under your cat’s litter box in an attempt to curb cat litter tracking, don’t despair. There are other options available. Here are a few.

  1. A plastic chair mat. Find at office supply stores. There are chair mats that can be used on every surface from bare floors to thick carpet. They come in a wide variety of sizes, too. The plastic chair mat keeps most of the litter in one place, but because it is plastic, it may not hold onto the litter as well as a litter mat or one of the other alternatives.
  2. A throw rug. A throw rug with a high pile and plastic backing can serve as a great litter mat. The throw rug should be at least 36 inches long and 20 inches wide, to fit under and around most litter boxes. The great thing about throw rugs is that they’re washable. However, shake the litter out of the throw rug before you wash it, or you could end up clogging your drain and causing a flood.
  3. A carpet runner. Want to give your cat the red-carpet treatment? Why not get a nice long carpet runner to give her some extra space to wipe her paws, so to speak? Get a runner that sticks out at least 3 feet from the litter box opening. You’ll still have to vacuum, but at least you won’t have litter pebbles flying everywhere.

Tell us: How do you control cat litter tracking and scattering?

JaneA Kelley is the author of the award-winning cat advice blog Paws and Effect and a contributing writer at Catster.com. She is the board secretary for Diabetic Cats in Need, a nonprofit that helped save her diabetic cat’s life.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home

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