Do Sifting Litter Boxes Work?

Is this the same as asking, “do flushing toilets work?”. Like you, your cats need a place to do their business.  One key to successful litter box training your cat is odor control.  This means the odors from the kitty litter box are addressed so your cat uses it consistently. It also means you as the “caretaker of cats” enjoys a less stinky home.

In this article, we are going to discuss few of the advantages and disadvantages of sifting cat litter boxes.

Cute kittens in a sifting litter box.
Have more than one cat? A sifting litter box may help you.

What is a sifting litter box?

A sifting litter box is a cat litter box with a strainer. It removes the “deposits” but not in the same way. The main feature of sifting litter boxes is their sifting tray or litter box strainer.  The tray has holes or slats in the bottom which allows the smaller, clean litter granules to fall through them. It strains and holds the wastes and clumps that are larger than the slats/holes. It’s like you are sifting your kitty litter box with a giant hand scooper. One scoop and done. Kinda.  The design lets you sift the whole litter box at once rather than having to find the soiled litter clumps (if you use clumping kitty litter) and the other cat waste material.

How do sifting litter boxes work?

These can be referred to as a 3 layer sifting litter box . There are two bottom pans for the clean litter usually made of durable plastic. When you pick up the sifting litter tray and shake it, clean litter falls into the bottom litter tray.  The wastes stay in the sifting pan and are easy to dispose of. Next, you take the second litter tray (empty one) and place the sifting one into it.  Pour the clean litter from the first litter tray into the sifting tray. Lastly, you can place the spare litter pan in the bottom of both of them so you are ready for the next cleaning.  As most cats like their litter box cleaned twice a day, this makes clean up a bit easier. 

Advantages and disadvantages of sifting litter boxes.

The main advantage of a sifting litter boxes is the ease of cleaning. However, it’s not the same for every cat owner. We think it’s not a ton easier, it’s just different.  There is still the need to handle the trays and dispose of the soiled kitty litter material. We have several cats so the amount of litter box clean up every day is still a chore.

Advantages of sifting litter boxes.

Advantages: If you do clean your box every other day, then yes, the sifting box saves time. This means that your cats agree with you as the litter sifter only do your job every other day.  Awesome, congratulations. However, most cats require (demand may not be too strong of a word here) litter box cleaning twice daily.  We have one that demands her box be cleaned after every use. Now, imagine if you have to clean the box after every use.  Plus you have to do all the sifting, disposing, pan replacing etc. just to remove one waste or one clump.  That’s much more work than just hand scooping one visit to the box from your cat.  We’ve seen that if you have to remove several solid wastes and a bunch of clumps at once, sifting litter box can save you time.

Do sifting litter boxes work with all types of cat litter?

Yes. But there is a con to aware of. The instructions on sifting litter boxes say you have to shake the sifting litter pan tray so the clean litter falls through. This leaves all the soiled litter in the litter box on the sifting tray that can be disposed of. The problem this creates is dust. What we’ve experienced is that even cat labeled as “dust free” usually has some amount of dust. The best type of litter for sifting litter boxes is clumping kitty litter. This type of litter helps with odor control and is an excellent choice for a sifting litter box. Unfortunately clumping kitty litter also tends to be the dustiest type of litter.

Why so much dust?

First, Sifting litter pans have slots that sift the clumps of urine and solid waste from the clean litter. This means kitty litter is rubbing against the sifting pan releasing dust. Second, clumping kitty litter has to have granules that are small enough to fall through the sifting pan slots. They also rub against the sifting pan as they drop through. Lastly, the shaking action to sift the soiled clumps and the clean litter dropping into the lower pan releases the dust into the air as they fall. When they hit the bottom pan, that can release a bit more dust. Is it worth it? Yes. The benefits of clumping kitty litter with a sifting litter box are much easier. Especially if you are a multi cat parent. And thankfully, most cats do not mind clumping litter.

Which sifting litter box should I get?

There are three main types of sifting litter box:

1. Covered sifting litter box. This is as it sounds, a sifting litter box that is covered.
2. Open sifting litter box. Same as above just not covered.
3. Automatic sifting litter box. These are known as a self cleaning litter box.
What we and our patients have seen time and time again, cats love a litter box that has the dimensions that are large enough for them to move around in. This is especially true for larger, adult cats. That’s the biggest issue that will prevent a cat from using a given litter box-it being too small for them. Most cats really don’t care if they are sifting or not. Do cats prefer covered litter boxes? They do help with reducing odors and litter scatter around the house. Read more about covered litter boxes in our post.

Are sifting litter boxes worth it?

Well, if you find scooping the contents of the litter box for your feline friend bothers you, if you already use clumping cat litter already, you might try one for yourself and see if a sifting litter box saves you time and effort. The good news is that sifting litter boxes are not that expensive as compared to traditional litter boxes.  We recommend getting your cats use to clumping litter first, then introduce them to the new litter box.

What Is The Best Sifting Cat Litter Box?

The key features to look for in a sifting litter box are:

  • Large. Again, this is one key reason cats don’t use their litter box.
  • Durable. The sturdy plastic should heavy duty with a solid base.
  • Stain resistant. Having antimicrobial protection is ideal to have.

This article is a part of series about different types of cat litter boxes.

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