Today’s litter boxes are more than just a simple plastic box. Minnesota mom to four cats, Maya Nishikawa hates cleaning the litter box, so she’s willing to try any of the latest innovations. Last year she bought an automated Litter Robot that cleans up poo and pee 10 minutes after the cat leaves the device, and this year she got the new Japanese innovation called the Toletta (not yet available in the United States). This litter box tracks urinary habits, capturing video each time kitty enters the box and does his business.
“I love to try new designs and innovations, but in the end, it’s my cats that make the final decision if I continue to use it or not,” Maya says.
This pet-loving schoolteacher is not like most cat owners. According to the most recent American Pet Products Association (APPA) Pet Owners Survey, 78% of cat owners in the United States use a simple, standard plastic box. That’s not a surprise, as they are affordable at a few bucks a piece. Even some veterinarians and feline behaviorists also advocate for the simple, uncovered box, saying that its simplicity works best for wary and sensitive cats.
But besides these regular litter boxes, what’s happening in litter box innovation for those cat parents and cats looking for something beyond a simple box? Today’s litter box innovations are making kitty’s bathroom more sustainable, eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Let’s paw through litter boxes available today. Just to note: There’s no telling what type of litter box your cat will and will not use until you try it; cats have preferences just like us.
These litter boxes focus on the design aspect of the litter box. Each cat is different, so you won’t know until you try it and, if kitty will use a beautiful litter box, it’s a win-win situation.
Brett Teper, co-founder of Modkat litter boxes, believes no one should have ugly litter boxes. Living in New York City, he and his business partner specifically set out to do something different. Many of his litter boxes are targeted toward cat parents who live in small spaces.
“Apartment dwellers often have their litter boxes out in the open. They need boxes that are aesthetically pleasing but have functionality. Our products come in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate living space size, big felines, messy cats, side pee-ers and have top and traditional entries.”
Shopping tip: Watch out for beautiful designs that don’t take into consideration the cat’s usage and comfort. Look for form and function.
Automated litter boxes
Who likes cleaning the litter box? No one! And with automated litter boxes, you don’t have to. These litter boxes scoop and rake seconds after kitty defecates. They’ve been around for 30 years, but they keep getting more technologically advanced. The most sophisticated ones run more than $500, while basic ones run for about $100.
Shopping tip: Automated litter boxes are really appliances, and manufacturers urge cat parents to research products and read reviews before any purchase. Like many appliances, they vary in quality and level of customer service. Companies also report that on average, about 3% of kitties won’t use them due to cats’ preferences about sound or covered litter boxes.
Traditional or non-traditional?
Another shopping tip: When choosing the best litter box for your cat, buy more than one. The rule of thumb for successful litter box usage is one more litter box than the number of cats you have and then place the boxes in different areas. If you have two cats, try three different types, and you’ll soon know which ones you and your cats prefer.
The APPA survey says 92% of cat owners have at least one litter box for their pet, and each year the number of cat owners using traditional litter boxes declines. This also happens to coincide with the increase in usage of other forms of litter boxes. It’s clear that more and more kitty enthusiasts are trying out other options.
Maya says she hopes to keep trying the new innovations. “I love all the choices. It’s fun to test them out. I feel like eventually there will be a litter box out there for every cat imaginable.”
Go on cat furniture websites, and it’s easy to see litter boxes that look like modern end tables. They’re often used with a standard plastic litter box inside.
Tuft + Paw is a well-known company famous for designs that integrate a litter box into your home décor without compromising style. They offer furniture that features ample interior spaces and a screened window that offers airflow.
Shopping tip: Like human furniture, these pieces can run from around $70 up into the hundreds, so budget accordingly.
An affordable version of the automatic litter box with no automation, lift and sift is a trend in both plastic and bio-degradable litter boxes to help humans keep kitty’s potty clean. While aesthetically pleasing design is a favorite of cat owners, equally important is a faster, easier way to clean the litter box. Examples include the cardboard Kitty Sift and the plastic Petmate Arm & Hammer Large Sifting Litter Box ($25.99; petmate.com).
Shopping tip: Read the instructions and reviews about how best to clean the sifting litter box you are considering. Some users say you may need to take an old toothbrush to scrub kitty’s poo off in between the grates
Sustainable, eco-friendly litter boxes
These are typically non-plastic litter boxes that are environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Think disposable waterproof cardboard boxes, like the one from PetSafe.
And, the Kitty Sift is not only a sifter but features multiple cardboard layers that you sift and reuse for several weeks before you toss them out. The entrepreneur wanted to create something that is healthy for both the cat and the planet. Carrie Van Wert, founder of Kitty Sift, a lift-and-sift litter box system, says cat lovers don’t want to deal “with plastic scoopers, liners or trays that can create unhealthy odor and bacteria buildup.” The APPA Survey found that Gen Z and Millennials are the highest customers of these products, with 9% saying eco-friendly and sustainable litter boxes are important to them.
Shopping tip: Check for non-slip or put the box on a surface that keeps it from moving around.
Today’s litter box innovations are making kitty’s bathroom more sustainable, eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.