My cat is a litter tracker: what boxes & litter can help us contain his mess?

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paw pow
By: yoppyCC BY 2.0
One of our cats is a MAJOR litter tracker. Not just a tracker — he makes an Olympic sport out of digging in the litter box. Like, I'm talking 20 minute marathon sessions of kicking.

We are currently using a Petmate hooded litter box with high sides and a door flap, and Simply Pine pellet litter. In the past we've used Yesterday's News, and just about every kind of clay litter imaginable, and so far this seems to track the least… but the least is still A LOT.

What can we do to keep the litter inside the box? Our second cat is huge and old and has a very hard time jumping/climbing, so a top-entry litter box (the obvious fix) isn't an option.

What kind of boxes/litter to do you all use to contain the mess? -Jenna

Cat-ladies, now is your chance to get out your kitty-nerding: who can recommend litter box solutions that contain the mess, but still allow a huge old cat to use it?

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  1. We switched to a crystal litter, helped with the smell a bunch. But he was still getting it all over, so then I was standing at the store and read the words 'litter for long hair' the crystals are a lot bigger so he gets fewer stuck between his toes and we get less in the hallway. We also got a this rubber mat to catch it just as he comes out.

    I don't know what your kitty spot looks like but is a long low box a possibility? So he can dig at one corner and still keep it sorta in the box?

    3 agree
  2. We have big kitty and he is a super digger/thrower. So we finally got one of the big storage tubs and cut 1/3 of the lid off as a kitty opening. We have a litter tracker mat on top of the rest of the lid. He can now turn around and dig to his hearts content.

    It does take a ton more litter to fill though…

    5 agree
    • We use a high-sided rubbermaid container too. Instead of a litter-tracker mat we have a industrial-type foyer mat that the box sits on. When too much litter gets tracked out of the box we can just fold it up and shake it clean outside.

      The higher sides also make it harder for the dog to get any "cat cookies" (Euuuughhhhh!)

      7 agree
  3. Our cats excavate with energy and wild abandon. We just have a plastic covered storage box from Home Depot with a hole cut in one side for entry/exit. Whatever they kick out, we sweep and pour back in. We don't have a flap on it, but the hole is definitely smaller. Don't know if that would be an issue for your older larger cat, though… Oh, and we use Scoop Away.

    3 agree
  4. My mum has lots of space and uses a flat wrapping paper storage box with the lid off. It gives lots of room for kicking and rooting. I've also seen people using high rubbermaid bins so it can't get over the side.

    So far we haven't come up with anything that works well for us either so I'm interested. I tried using one of the nubby rubber mats previously but my cat would just hop out on the side and walk around it, completely defeating the purpose.

    3 agree
  5. We have the same box from Petco but the litter was still going everywhere once they hopped out. I took two rolls of shelf liner, the foamy woven kind (if that makes sense) and cut them to make a giant square around our box. The material is slightly grippy and it works like a charm, and cost me less than five bucks!

    13 agree
    • This is exactly what I was going to recommend. With our cats, it seems like the mess isn't as much stuff that gets kicked out as stuff that gets tracked out with them.
      Placing this matting in front of and around the box would help collect anything that gets kicked out and anything that sticks to the kittles.

      5 agree
      • Does this work better than those little rubber mats? (We are caring for two cats for a year, and kind of clueless.) We have a covered litter bin with a rubber mat, but they still track a TON out and away, especially the long haired cat.

        3 agree
        • Our Baby Cat has long hair and it seems to work pretty well. It's not perfect, we still have the occasional litter bits on the floor, but it works better than anything else I've used.

          2 agree
  6. We have a Tidy Cats Breeze Litter Box System which is AMAZING at containing the scent of cat pee and poop–not what you're asking about, but a must in a 1-bedroom apartment. πŸ˜‰

    My cat is a prolific scooper as well, so the clay pellets really help keep that under control. At the same time, it really hurts to step on a stray pellet, so my girlfriend suggested putting a sheet of grippy ribbed shelf liner around the front of the box where he scoops and walks in and out. It REALLY cut down on the stray pellets; it's not that they don't make it out of the box, but they get caught on the liner and all stay in roughly the same place so we can flip them back into the box easily.

    12 agree
    • Omg these litter boxes changed my life. The clean up is easier, it's neater, I just love them. I'd never go back to the old litter.

      14 agree
      • We had one of these at one point, but one of the cats is pretty picky about where she goes and didn't like it. I loved it while we had it though πŸ™‚

        5 agree
    • We have this also, and it's cut down the litter-tracking significantly, because the pellets are too big to get stuck between their toes. Our older cat's a digger, so she still flips some out, but they're much easier to just sweep together and pop back in than regular litter.

      3 agree
    • Breeze system for the win. The pellets don't disintegrate so there's no peed-on dusty bits flying around – winning. (Turns out when yr house has no air circulation system at all this becomes a priority – the dust just sits.)

      However if digging is a really big issue (the sides on the Breeze box are high, but not sky high), I'd recommend something a la the 'stealth mode litter box' as seen over here: http://offbeathome.com/2011/03/diy-cat-litter

      2 agree
  7. Our two cats are diggers as well, and we use a Booda Dome with a rubber mat at the entrance. The steps help get rid of caked in litter, and it's enclosed, and there is a slot for carbon filters to help get rid of the smell (we don't need to use it). My In-laws use a rubbermaid bin in the laundry room for their kitty.

    PS: Our Booda dome is white, and it looks like an igloo, so we call it The Shit-loo lol

    8 agree
    • We had that litter box as well cause our big kitty tracked like crazy but it worked horribly for us. He got it everywhere.

      We eventually ended up with the Roll-n-Clean Self-Cleaning Litter Box.

      I don't know if it will work for you as it has to be used with scoopable litter, but he does track way less out of it. Also, we just got some cheap door mats from ikea and put them under their box, and it's helped a bunch.

      • I also have a problem with cats who like to track litter (also the smell), and I think that this rolling box looks like the best litter box posted here. I'm probably going to try picking up that one, but is there any problems you've had with the box, Breanna?

        • Nope.

          My husband does most of the cleaning currently since I'm pregnant (and love using the excuse to not have to clean it) but besides a little bit of confusion right at first on how to use it (there is a youtube video that is super helpful) it's been super easy.

          We did go through a few litters to find the one that clumped best and smelled best for us, but it sits right at our front door and we haven't had any problem with it. We have had it about 8 months now and I still love it.

          1 agrees
          • I was going to suggest this box. Frank-n-furter at his highest post-neuter weight was over 30lbs (I'm not proud of it, but I didn't indulge him. He was just a big kitty we blew up even bigger sans-balls). The largest Booda Dome I could find with the side stairs helped a lot with dirt tracking and even shielded the Litter Box Buffet from Zombie Pug.

            I suppose it all depends on the size of your kitteh. I've mentioned before Big Frank briefly tried the Clever Cat with utterly disastrous results. If you have a smaller cat, I can see the Booda Dome doing no good. But seeing as a larger cat takes up so much more, erm, …surface area… the XL Booda Dome worked for me.

            1 agrees
  8. Would a "litter house" be something your cats would use? Litterally (ha! no pun intended) a small house to contain the litter. Something like this Merry Pet Cat Washroom

    Maybe the enclosed sides will keep the flying litter to a minumum.

    • This is what my cat has. It's less about the litter, and more about preventing my beagle from having midnight Kitty Krunchy feasts. I bought a cheap end table cabinet thing from the Salvation Army store for $10. The interior of the cabinet is tall enough for my cat to do his thing comfortably (though he is very tolerant; his last litter box location was in a 12" high storage cubby) and deep enough for his litter box. I use a cordless drill and a jigsaw to cut a cat-sized hole in one door, and added a sturdy latch to keep the doors shut. Now, the cat can go in and out, and the dog can't access her favorite snacks. I use a corner litter box (triangle shaped) so that the litter is even farther away from the cat opening. Because everything is enclosed, very little litter gets out.

      1 agrees
  9. We had to scrap this idea because one of our cats refused to go #2 with it in the litterbox. But we used to use wood pellets for pellet stoves as litter. It is cheaper than regular litter, and works rather well, if your cats will use it. The pellets are so large there wouldn't be much tracking, and the wood covered up the stank pretty well.

  10. Our problem was more how much is tracked out, so we turned the entrances of the boxes towards the wall, leaving them about 6-12" between the box and the wall. That kept whatever was kicked out bouncing off the wall and onto the mat. It also kept the cats from charging out and bringing a mass of litter with them.

    6 agree
    • What is WITH cats charging out like that? I could always tell how enormous of a #2 my cat had done by the speed that he used to exit his litter box closet.

      8 agree
  11. We have a digger/tracker, too! We use the Scoop Away because it clumps so well, but man, those tiny bits get tracked for a long while outside the box!

    We're seriously considering one of these Modkat Litter Boxes.

    Our litter box has to live in our bathroom and we've read good reviews about this one. There's a tray on top so when they jump out, they land on topand most of the litter gets trapped here. It's an investment, but we're at that point!! Especially since it has to live in the open and this box would look nicer, take up less space than our current big hooded box and would help with the tracking issue.

    Good luck!

    • I made a cheap version of this litter box from an 18 gallon sterilte storage bin from Walmart. Cost 5 bucks, cut a hole in the lid, and it works great. Litter stays on top of the lid, so no tracking!

      1 agrees
  12. The cheap fix is a doormat next to the box — the very textured kind with lots of nooks and crannies in the dried grassy stuff. Or find a similar substance by the roll so it can go on all sides of the box (astroturf may also work). The litter goes off the little paws into the mat, which you can shake out whenever you like.

    It is sometimes even possible to find a mat that reads "wipe your paws," for literate litter users.

    2 agree
  13. Hazaa! Inspiration!

    We have a double problem. We have one cat that tracks and kicks little everywhere. And we have another senior cat who is VERY picky about her little box, so we can't do lidded boxes, big little, or litter mats (anything rug-like near the box is an invitation to pee on the edge of that rug/floor).

    Right now we have one box in the bath tub in our spare bathroom, which I don't like, but it keeps the litter in the tub instead of all around the floor), and the other is just normal and we sweep a lot.

    With a few mentions of storage tubs, I'm thinking of cutting the sides down on a big tub, and putting the little box in there. It will give a second barrier between the box and floor for our tracker, and won't tick off our grumpy, old lady cat.

    • Yeah, I gave up on controlling the litter tracking and also having a rug at all because anything left on the bathroom floor is immediately peed on.

      2 agree
  14. we have the SmartCat Ultimate Litter Box in our hall closet, but we turned it around so the low side faces the wall. They can still climb in and out of the high side but it prevents them from hopping out and kicking litter everywhere. Currently we line the floor with newspapers for when our young cat feels cheeky and decides to go #2 NEXT to the box instead of IN it. but I'm going to try a bar mat or something, maybe he's to comfortable with the paper…

  15. My cats are rather large, so I sadly had to give up on the keep-the-litter-in-the-box thing. Lidded boxes are too small and they can kick over the sides of the tallest box. And I'm cheap so I didn't want to buy every cool looking litter box to see if it would work for them! So, I tried the mat thing – so far, a used yoga mat has worked the best – but the thing that really worked for me was putting up a baby gate where the litter boxes where. I use a spare closet for the litter boxes, but I rent so I really didn't want to cut a cat hole in the door to prevent my dog from getting at her favorite snack (YUCK). So, I got a $12 wood baby gate from Target, which my cats can easily jump over and deters my dog from digging in. Between the mat on the floor (which dusts my cat's little tootsies after they do their business and prevents kicked-out litter from going everywhere) and the cats having to JUMP to leave the area their boxes are in, my life has been a lot less litter-y, except in that closet of course!

  16. I live in a small studio with almost no closet space, and I can't stand litter all over the bathroom floor! My solution was to move all the stuff from the under-sink cupboard in my bathroom to under my kitchen sink, and make the bathroom cabinet into the cat-box space. I propped one door open a bit with a wine cork and duct tape (hella classy) and put the litter box at the other end of the cupboard. He has to walk across an old beach towel that lines the cupboard after he uses the box in order to get out, and this has contained about 90% of the litter-tracking, which is good enough for me! And I will never drop my hairbrush in the box again, which is a very huge bonus.

  17. We bought one of those trays you put underneath washing machines and put the litter box in that. That extra containment area has really helped with our cat situation.

    1 agrees
    • We considered one of those, but are trying a cement mixing tub from the hardware store first. I'm going to put the box in, and some rubber grid (for boot trays) in front of it.

  18. So, I wrote about my litter box hacks as a guest post a long time ago ( http://offbeathome.com/2011/03/diy-cat-litter ), and I have to say I'm still in love with the bar mats I bought off of Amazon.

    They do an AMAZING job of collecting all little bits of litter before they leave the box, thanks to the indented grooves, and the hard plastic means they can't rip it to shreds with their claws as they've done with any litter mat I bought from a pet store, blankets, newspaper, towels, etc.. So if you have any type of box that makes them walk on the mat before leaving the box, you're almost guaranteed a fairly clean experience.

    Also, after trying every litter on the marketplace and every suggestion I've ever seen ever on Offbeat Home, so far it's corn litter that's worked best for us — least amount of dust from the kicking, least amount of sneezing for me when I scoop πŸ™‚

  19. I have two cats in a small one bedroom house. I use two basic, covered litter boxes without doors (the one cat is too slow to realize how to use the doors…). I was having serious tracking issues since moving (even with a really fancy mat outside the boxes) and the smell was starting to bother my significant other as the litter boxes are in the laundry room right outside our bedroom door. Nothing like smelling cat poo right before you go to sleep! I recently switched to a walnut based litter. It's made by Blue Buffalo and is all natural and the claims it makes are actually true in my experience. The smell is pretty much nonexistent as long as you keep the box fairly clean and the tracking is ridiculously low. It's stupid expensive, but I don't care, I am willing to pay the extra $$ for a poo-smell free bedroom and the ability to walk around in bare feet without getting litter stuck to my soles. Its the best litter I have ever tried (better than feline pine or the wheat based litters out there – which I have also used in the past).

    Blue Naturally Fresh Quick Clumping Cat Litter

  20. I have the Modkat Litter Box and I just had to post here. This box is amazing, it really has reduced the litter tracking by at least 90%! and I really love the way it looks compared to all the others… I recommend!

    1 agrees
  21. I use something like this

    It's basically a hooded litter box (that basically looks like an igloo) with a set of steps that leads into it. My cat is still young, and he sometimes has issues making jumps but he is fine with this box. He also likes to kick litter around rather forcefully so the hood and stairs really help.

    Also, because the steps are textured, most of the litter that gets stuck in his paws drops on the steps, so there isn't much clean up from him tracking it around the house.

    My only complaint is that it's difficult to line with a plastic bag because of the shape. It's also a bit big.

  22. Our solution is putting the litter pan inside a big rubbermaid tub. The tub has a doorway cut in it, so they can walk in instead of jumping out the side. This also encourages them to walk across one of those litter tracking mats.

  23. I'm astonished no one mentioned this one… we trained our cat to use the toilet. PROBLEM SOLVED!

    Seriously! We used a training system called "Litter Kwitter", or something to that effect. I haven't scooped a box in over a year – just have to flush the basement toilet in the morning and evening!

    1 agrees
  24. We got what I can only describe as a "kitty igloo". We bought it mainly to keep our dog from hunting for treasure when we weren't home, but it actually worked pretty well keeping the litter from getting tracked all over the house. We also used a natural pine litter. Not sure how much the litter had to do with that, but just thought I'd note that.

  25. We have a litter box where the cat enters from the top, not the side. She is not able to kick any litter out. It's fantastic πŸ™‚ but I don't recall the company that makes it πŸ™

  26. My cat has a top opening litterbox. I've stopped keeping the lid on because he has this super annoying habit of stepping in his poo and tracking it everywhere. Plus he loves to jump straight out and onto my bed (which then tracks litter all over my sheets) I'm going to try picking up a larger storage bin from target and seeing if that works.

  27. I recently switched to a box with very tall sides (not a litterbox by design, actually an old wooden crate from ikea) so that all of my kitty's pawing and kicking will stay contained. Also, I think she likes this better because it's a much larger box, so there's more room for her to turn around and get comfy. The opening is the top, so she has quite a jump to get in, but she's young, so that's not an issue. The entire box is also on top of a carpet square that I bought just for that purpose. And I use a very light litter that's made of pellets of recycled newspaper (http://freshnewslitter.com/) so that she doesn't have to dig so hard to bury her little kitty poops.

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