When filling the litter box, make sure that you leave a couple inches of free space at the top for this burying process. You may also want to consider a litter box with a tall back. If you have a kitten, you may need to start with a smaller litter box that they can step into, and then get a deeper one when they are older. Mostly this is your preference. Covers can sometimes help keep odors and litter in, and certainly help block the view of the litter area. However, for larger cats the cover may make it awkward for them to maneuver around and sufficiently bury their waste.
The cover will also need to be removed for you to thoroughly scoop out the used litter. There are lots of pros and cons about self-cleaning litter boxes. The reviews are mixed—some people love them, and some do not. You need to evaluate and decide for yourself. Do consider that it has moving parts, which may not be a good choice for a curious kitten that could hurt itself while trying to play with it when it moves. Also, some cats do not like these because of the moving parts and may refuse to use them. Check the return policy before purchasing one of these, since they are more expensive than a standard one, in case it does not work out for you or your cat.
You may want to consider placing a mat or bathroom rug in front of the litter box to help catch any of the litter that sticks between your cat’s toes and may get tracked around your house. Choose something that is easy to clean the litter out of. This is a slotted large scooper and is sold in the litter section. It is used to scoop out stools or clumped litter while allowing the unused litter to stay in the box. Plastic liners are available and are usually used with non-clumping litter to throw out the entire container after it is thoroughly used. One problem is that cats will scratch a hole for themselves and then scratch again to bury their waste and in this process they frequently scratch through the plastic liner and put a hole through it.
This should always be used for kittens because they are curious and like to taste and play with everything. This type of litter is the easiest litter to use and quickly sticks to feces or absorbs urine to create a clump that can be easily removed with a slatted scoop, while keeping the rest of the unused litter in the box for later use. There are several types including wheat, corn, and clay. Clay is the most common, but it is dusty, heavy to clean and dispose of, scratches surfaces, and is unpleasant to step on. These types of litter readily absorb liquid, and will require a specially slotted scoop to remove the feces, although it does not readily stick to the feces. Cats who are unfamiliar with this type of litter may take a while to adjust. One benefit of this type of litter is that it is not usually tracked around the house from your kitty’s feet.
Your litter box may need to be dumped once a week or more often, depending on how many cats you have. The litter will clog your pipes and cause a back up in your house—you do not want to risk that! Importantly, flushing cat waste is suspected to be linked to the death of sea otters, whales, and porpoises in the US and around the world. If they were in the outside world, they would choose a new spot every time. Inside the home, they do not have that luxury and will be much happier if you are conscientious about cleaning their litter box. If you have multiple cats, then twice a day is necessary to avoid odor and to keep cats healthy. Frequent cleaning will also minimize inappropriate behavior in the house.
If your cat has chosen to use the pot of your houseplant, or your bathmat, or another rug, it may be due to an unclean litter box that they don’t want to use. It is not recommended to leave lots of litter boxes out so that you only clean once a week—your cat will not appreciate this and you will have more odors in your house because of it. Every couple of weeks, take the entire litter box and scoop outside and scrub it down with a mild-bleach solution. When using the litter box, that cat will frequently back itself into a corner and some of the urine or feces may touch and stick to the wall of the litter box. Periodically scrubbing it down will keep the litter box odors down, and your cat will be thankful for the clean box. If your cat has been sick, has worms, or is infected with a bacteria that affects its intestinal tract, you may wish to scrub the box down more frequently to minimize re-infecting your cat or others in your household. Again, this is mostly your preference.
Cats like convenience, so remember easy accessibility is key 24-hours a day. As cats age, like people, sometimes it’s even more important to have quick accessibility to a litter box, so keep that in mind with older cats in your household. If you do place the litter box in a place you hardly use, just remember that the box is there and still needs regular cleaning. Is it in a corner? Under a piece of furniture? If a cat is feeling threatened, it may avoid using a box in a location like this because they have no escape route and can not see their surroundings. Consider putting the litter box in an open area. It may just require re-conditioning your kitty and working through the issue of feeling threatened. The nice thing about cats—using a litter box is instinctual. When you bring home a new cat or kitten, show them where the litter box is. You may want to close them in the room with the litter box and allow them to explore the place and find the litter box. That way they will know where it is when they need to make use of it. With a kitten, you may wish to actually pick her up and place her in the litter box.