I love a good walk on a beach. I love the way my toes curl in the sand. It brings back such wonderful memories of days and nights spent relaxing and laughing in the summer. There is something very satisfying about looking down at sand crusted feet and knowing you spent your day well. This is the right time and a place for sand to meet up with bare feet. Sand in the home? Well, not so much. I don’t love the grit of kitty litter/sand in my house. I especially don’t like kitty litter tracking all over the beds. I don’t love stepping on a big piece of sharp litter, getting it embedded in my heel, and then imagining what the cat had just been doing to the location it came from.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my cats. I am a bona fide, card-carrying Crazy Cat Lady and proud of it. In the US, cat owners are encouraged to keep their beloved companions indoors mostly because of the tremendous list of hazards that pose a threat to a cat’s safety. This means that we have to keep an indoor litter box, bringing with it all of the hassles of cleaning it. If your house is starting to resemble a beach more than it should here are some tips on how to get rid of kitty litter tracking.
To start, just give up on the notion that you will completely get rid of all of the kitty litter being tracked outside of the box. Kitties like to cover their business; it’s what they do. There will be a certain amount of pomp and circumstance that goes along with this ritual. Each kitty has a different style they bring to the litter box. Be flexible. That being said, make sure you have the right style and shape of litter box for your cat(s). Choose a litter that works for your lifestyle and, more importantly, for your cats. It will also help to have a few tools handy to help get rid of the litter when it does escape the confines of the litter box.
The Kitty Litter Box
Getting rid of kitty litter is a struggle every kitty parent faces. The battle starts with the box. For multiple cat households, there is a general rule of having one more litter box than you have cats. So a two cat household would have three litter boxes. The style and type you need may take some trial and error. Just because one style works for one kitty doesn’t mean it will work for all. The most important factor is making sure the box is big enough to fit the cat when he is in his ‘business’ posture. If you have a tall/long cat you may not be able to use a covered box as the box may not allow for a proper pee/poop posture. This actually happened in my household.
True Story of Kitty Litter Tracking
I adopted a kitty who is part Maine Coon. The litter box that I had been using for my other cat all of a sudden didn’t work. I was having all sorts of troubles with pee, poop, and kitty litter tracking everywhere, maybe 50% of the time in the box on a good day. Thus started the experiments of what configuration would work. I started by taking the flap off of the covered box, thinking it was too confining for my big boy. With the flap off, I could see into the box; I noticed that he couldn’t sit down properly. He was peeing on the inside of the lid. That explained why the pee was leaking out of the box. I took the top off. It became apparent that the box was still too small for his long body. I replaced the regulation litter box with a large storage tote from Target. Amazon also has them in 6 packs. I didn’t cut a passage, or modify the tote in any way. It has tall sides and no lid, and has made a huge improvement in getting rid of kitty litter tracking outside of the box.
I moved the covered litter box downstairs to the basement. It now serves as the overflow litter box. My smaller kitty still uses it.
Pro tip: Don’t get rid of any of the litter boxes you buy, as you work out which box is right for your kitty. If you have the room, store them. You never know when a kitty might develop a health issue and require a different style of box, or more boxes strategically placed around the home. If you don’t want to keep the extras, consider donating them to a local shelter or rescue organization.
Filling the Litter Box
A first time cat owner will often opt for a basic cat litter: something that clumps, is cheap, and easily available at the grocery store. This is actually a great way to work out which type of box you need, but once you have fine tuned the litter box, you will want to fine tune the litter as well. You might be thinking, “It’s kitty litter; not rocket science.” You’re right; but, there are some litters that are better than others. There are also different materials that might be better suited to your cat.
For getting rid of kitty litter around the home the size of litter is often a factor. For example, a very fine litter is more easily trapped between toes, especially if your kitty is floofy (yes, ‘floofy’ is a word), and has toehawks (also a word: toehawks (n): As in Mohawks coming out of the toes. Long sprigs of fur that protrude from between the toes of excessively floofy kitties.) If you have a floofy kitty, a large pellet style litter might be best. There are several on the market, typically made from recycled newsprint, walnut shells, or pine.
Another pro about pellet litter is that some brands are biodegradable and a better choice for the environment. If you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint, this might be a product you want to investigate more thoroughly. Some products are made with post-consumer paper, newspaper, and magazines. After the product has served its purpose in the litter box it can be repurposed in the garden as a mulch or weed blocker, and can even be composted. It’s slightly better for the environment and for the house: the tracking is minimal and you don’t have the residual guilt when you dump the box.
A Firm Foundation to stop Litter Tracking
This is where the rubber hits the road…er… carpet. If you choose to use a more traditional litter, there will be some granules tracked. It’s inevitable. Swheat Scoop and World’s Best Cat Litter come highly recommended as being less likely to track. What goes under the litter box can play a big part in getting rid of kitty litter on kitty toes before being tracked around the house. Start by putting some sort of tray under your litter box. Suggestions from the experts (okay, not necessarily experts, but some of my crazy cat friends) include boot trays and kennel trays. Boot trays can be purchased at most farm supply or grange stores. They are trays that go on the floor and are designed for muddy boots to sit in. Kennel trays are the hard plastic liners that go in the bottom or wire dog kennels. Buy a tray that is larger than your litter box and place the litter box to one side so there is a about 1/3 of the tray in front of the exit side of the litter box.
Next, put a removable pad or mat inside of the tray. Flexible rubber mats that have holes or texture help get rid of kitty litter. These mats are waterproof, easily washed, and the litter that falls off of kitty toes can be poured back into the litter box. Another option is disposable pee pads, typically used for potty training pets. These will absorb any moisture and can be thrown away periodically, when they become soiled. I opted for a cheap bath mat. I chose a bath mat that had a firm weave to it, with some texture, nothing plush. I bought several identical bath mats when they were on sale. I can easily dump the extra litter back into the box. I simply wash the mat when it becomes soiled and lay down a clean one in its place. We suggest the Petlinks Purr-fect Paws Cat Litter Mat from Amazon.
Maintenance of the Litter Box
Good litter box hygiene is also important in getting rid of kitty litter. Cleaning the box twice a day cuts down on the amount of mounds a kitty has to work around. Keep the tools of the trade close at hand so you can keep a clean litter box area. A small broom and dust pan, empty bags, and a slotted scoop can all be kept in a small tote. You might even want to throw in a canister of pet safe disinfecting wipes, like Green Works by Clorox.
Getting rid of kitty litter is going to take some flexibility to try new things. Finding the right combination of tools will certainly cut down on the litter tracking around your home.