Do cats prefer a covered litter box?

A covered litter box also known as an enclosed litter box are very popular.  The people working at almost every pet store we have visited, talked on and on about how great a covered litter box is.  Not one mentioned any down sides.  Too good to be true?

Covered litter box with a kitten sitting nearby.
Should a litter box be covered? Is it right for you and your kitty?

Are covered boxes really life savers? Do they work? Do they stop litter box odor from dispersing or litter from dropping out of the box?

As with most things when it comes to cats, there are things to think about when deciding if a covered cat litter box is right for your cat. In this article, you are going to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of hooded cat litter boxes when compared to regular ones.

Covered cat litter box. For you or your cat?

Unfortunately for your cat, all the benefits of a covered litter box are there to serve your needs.  This is one possible reason they are so popular. After all, cat owners, not cats, are the ones making buying decisions. Or at least we like to think so. But what about your cat? There are several downsides of covered litter boxes that will impact your cat and their desire to use the covered litter box over an open one. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Smelly litter box

This both the biggest advantage and the biggest disadvantage of litter box with a lid. Why? Because the hood traps odors and keeps them from smelling up the area. Thumbs up from we humans.  The room smells less and the sight is more appealing. Thumbs down from your cat, because the litter box stinks.  Worse, the smell is trapped and concentrated inside their toilet. Have you been in a portable toilet lately?  Did you try to hold your breath while you were in there?  It can be so bad that your cat may decide to avoid their litter box and pee on your carpet instead. Luckily, if you scoop at least twice a day, it may help to alleviate the problem. If you find that too troublesome, here’s how to make litter box cleaning easier.

Kitty litter everywhere.

One of the advantages that covered cat litter box is that the floor around them is cleaner. If your cat is digging excessively, a covered box or one with high edges might be an answer to your misery. Keeping kitty litter in the litter box is a huge plus for you and your sanity.  You will find more tips to reduce cat litter tracking here.

Wet kitty litter.

A hooded litter box will prevent air circulation and make the litter wet longer than without a cover. This is a plus for us cat owners. Unfortunately, your cat is the one who has to step inside a dirty, damp litter box.  Depending on their tolerance level, their reaction can vary from just displeasure to complete avoidance of the litter box.

Easy to use covered litter box?

A covered litter box can be harder to use for both you and your cat. Instead of just scooping a regular box, you have to take off the lid, scoop, and fasten the lid back on. From your cat’s point of view, a covered box is harder to use, too. Most hooded boxes on the market are basically too small for cats. It may cause no problem for smaller cats, but larger cats will find it hard to maintain their posture while doing their business. Especially if you have an older cat with back pain. Their ability to eliminate in a covered litter box may become difficult.

No playing in the litter box.

Kids love playing in sand, and dogs are especially attracted to cat litter boxes because of the scent and taste. Wait, what?  Yes, your dog loves the smell and taste of what they think is “undigested food”.  Gross right?  A covered litter box is a great way to at least limit this problem. The cover works great for kids and medium to large dogs.  These are not very helpful for dogs that are similar in size as your cat . You will find more advice to keep dogs out of litter boxes here.

Should you buy an covered litter box?

So, what now? Seems like there are lots of downsides against a covered litter box for cats.

Yes, if there’s  a cat peeing out of the litter box, we highly suggest that the cover be removed. In many cases, this action alone can stop the problem. However, whether your cat feels comfortable using hooded litter box depends on two things. You, and your cat.

Tips for a covered litter box

  1. Place the litter box appropriately. This a place they have easy access to it,  isn’t noisy, and where they feel safe.
  2. Train your cat to use it. From an early age, training your cat where it’s okay to do their business makes life easier for both of you as the years go on.
  3. Clean the box frequently enough.  This by far is the biggest thing you can do to prevent problems.  Keeping your cats enclosed litter box clean and fresh smelling will go a long way to keep them happily using the box of your choice.

And remember, the fact that you don’t see a problem doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. Many cats do use covered boxes, even though they find great discomfort associated with it. If you see that your cat is meowing or hesitating before entering the litter box, digging the litter a lot, peeing with part of their body outside of the box etc., rest assured your cat does not like something about their covered box.

If your car refuses to use a covered litter box, you can choose a litter box with high edges,.

Open top IRIS cat litter box with scoop
Open top cat litter boxes are designed to offer cats plenty of room and quick accessibility.

You would reap most of the benefits of covered boxes, without forcing any of its disadvantages on your cat. 

If you think a covered litter box is for you and your cat, here is the enclosed litter box our cats like the most.

IRIS USA Top Entry Cat Litter Box with Cat Litter Scoop
Top entry kitty litter box is the perfect way to prevent litter scatter and contain spraying.

It comes in three different colors (White and beige shown above is our favorite, Orange and brown, and black and gray), has the entry on the top with ridges to help remove litter from their paws, and is easier to clean than others we tried. We found the opening on the top of this enclosed litter box was easy for our cats to get in and out of, had the height inside that was comfortable for them, and we could easily reach in and scoop often.  

By using our tips, patience and consistency, you and your cat can both enjoy a covered litter box.  Making an everyday need for your cat stress free while making your home look and smell better is a total win.  And best of all, you will be happy while making your pet happy.

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