Basic care

How to Change a Cat's Litter Box

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 20, 2018
How to Change a Cat's Litter Box

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Litter boxes, also known as sand boxes, for cats are important hygiene considerations for both you and your pet. This means we have to place these boxes somewhere which is suitable for both owner and cat. For the owner, this means somewhere sanitary so it doesn't affect the health of the humans in the household. For the cat, it needs to be somewhere away from its food and water otherwise it can cause distress. Once you have found your balance and know your cat's habits well, changing any elements of a cat's environment can confuse them. This is why if you want to change or move your cat's litter box, you will need to reassure your cat and get them used to the new situation. AnimalWised's article on how to change a cat's litter box will show how to do just that.

  1. Cats and changes
  2. Tips to know where to put the litter box
  3. Recommendations to make the change

Cats and changes

Cats are animals of habit. This means any changes to their routine have to be carried out in a controlled manner and, above all, only when completely necessary. This means, if your cat uses their litter box without any problems and it stays in a place which is suitable for you both, then just keep it there. Don't change your cat's litter box for an arbitrary reason such as you thinking you want a better looking one or one which will match a new color scheme.

There are a few reasons, however, why a new litter box or new placement for your litter box may be necessary:

  • The litter box is broken or faulty: many people keep their cat's litter box in the kitchen or somewhere with high shelves. If this is the case, objects may drop on it, they can get kicked accidentally or incur some other type of unforeseen damage. If this is the case, you may need to buy a new one, especially if there are leaks or holes.
  • Your cat isn't using the litter box: if you have trained your cat to use the litter box properly, but they are still unwilling to use it, you may need to move it to a new place or even get a new one. Cats can be particular and may have a reason for not liking a certain litter box, even if we are oblivious as to what this reason may be.
  • You are remodelling: as much as we want to prioritize the needs of our cat, we still have lives and other responsibilities. You may have to redecorate or remodel the room in which the litter box is stored, so the cat litter box will need to be moved so they can do their business during this time. You will need to consider whether the move will be permanent.
  • It is unsanitary where it is: while many people may have a litter box in their kitchen (perhaps for space reasons), it is not advised. If the smell doesn't bother you, what you don't see might. As cat litter is usually dusty, dirty litter particles can move about your kitchen, especially when they try to cover by kicking the litter.
  • You move home: this is an obvious one. It may be too long a distance to let your cat use it's previous litter box location if you have moved to a new home, especially to another state or country.

There may be more reasons why you need a new cat litter box, but just remember to only do so out of necessity. Also remember that this article is about how to change your cat's litter box, not how to change your cat's cat litter.

Tips to know where to put the litter box

If you do have a valid reason for changing your cat's litter box or moving it to a new location, there are some considerations you need to make. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you make the right ones:

  • The location of your cat's litter box should be somewhere quiet and intimate. Somewhere without much foot traffic or noisy activities is ideal. This is partly why many people prefer to keep their cat litter box in the bathroom. Not just because it is a place to do your business, but because it is a place which should be relatively quiet compared to the rest of the home.
  • Our cat should feel hidden and protected when doing their business. Animals in the wild can feel threatened or vulnerable when they go to the toilet, so keeping them protected will improve their well-being. Although you may think your house to be free of predators, your cat may not see things the same way.
  • Cats do not like to share litter boxes, so if you have more than one cat, there will be problems with only one box. While it may seem impractical, the ideal number of litter boxes is one for each cat plus one. This should stop any problems with territoriality.
  • While we need to keep the litter box in a safe an secure place, some cats will only want a covered litter box while others will need it to be open plan. This is possibly because some may find it protective, while others may feel vulnerable or trapped.
  • The litter box must be the right size for the cat. This means it needs to be large enough for the cat to turn around inside without having to back outside again.
  • There needs to be enough litter in the litter box to cover up their stool as hiding their scent trail is an important instinct for cats.
  • As for the type of litter we will use, there is a variety to choose from on the market. We may have to enact a trail and error system until they find the one which works for them. It should be able to let the cat urinate and defecate without overpowering them in smell or having a displeasing texture. Some may be perfumed to mask the smell, but this may put off some cats also. An odor neutralizer is ideal.
  • The height of the litter box also needs to be suitable for your cat. If your cat has mobility issues from suffering a disease, a preexisting condition or simply from old age, you may need to get a new litter box to ensure they can still do the necessary without hindrance.
  • Cats also like cleanliness, so you need to ensure you clean their litter tray regularly and make sure you eliminate the smell. This is for both you and your cat.
How to Change a Cat's Litter Box - Tips to know where to put the litter box

Recommendations to make the change

Once you have established the right place to move your litter tray or have found a new one for them, you will need to prepare for the change. When changing a cat's litter box, you should carry out the following:

  • Keep an eye on your cat so that you see when they are about to go to their old litter box placement. When they go there, lead them (not carry them) to the new place.
  • Use catnip or an odor which attracts cats in and around the litter box. This should provide some positive reinforcement and encouragement for the cat to use the new box.
  • If you think the cat is starting to reject the new litter box or location, you may need to try pheromones to ensure the cat uses the new box rather than poop outside the litter tray. Bach flowers may also be used as a herbal remedy to convince the cat.
  • Provide a treat for your cat so they have some positive reinforcement when they use the new litter tray or location.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Change a Cat's Litter Box, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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1 comment
Doug Gardner
I had developed a cat colony by feeding a feral cat in my back yard. She returned o have a liter of kittens. I have been neutering the cats and vaccinating them and keeping them fed and protected against the elements. The cats had multiplied to 30 cats. hey roamed the neighborhood as they soon learned to climb my seven foot block fence. My neighbor does not like cats and he has trapped and removed all but two or three of the cats that I had. He was able to remove 20 on one night and I am not sure how he could have trapped that many and am thinking that he may have just shot hem with a pellet gun and hen threw their bodies in the trash. Is that legal for him to 1.) trap the cats and either kill them or take them far out into the desert to die? Doesn't the law require that he take the cats to a shelter? I think he has cruelly ended the life of 30 cats just because he thinks it is legal to protect his yard by treating the cats as if they were rodents. Is here any legal recourse for his inhuman action?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Doug,

It will depend where you live and under what jurisdiction laws the situation applies. There are likely animal cruelty laws which could provide you some recourse. However, if you don't have any evidence and the cats are not registered, it might be very difficult to have action taken.
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How to Change a Cat's Litter Box