Categories: cat litter

How Deep Should A Cat Litter Box Be?

The overfilling of a cat litter box may be a common problem. It may be due to carelessness or because cat owners think that more litter is better because it’s more absorbent. I would suggest that the majority of cat companions aren’t too concerned about the depth of the litter inside a litter tray but some will be and it may encourage them to go to the toilet elsewhere.

How deep should cat litter be? This one looks too deep. What do you think?

There are one or two things to consider. Firstly, an arthritic, older cat may find deep litter slightly uncomfortable especially when pooping. This is because cats need a certain amount of stability by gripping the litter which an older cat might find more difficult if it is deeper and looser.

An overweight cat may find deep litter less than ideal because she will sink into it. Long-haired cat might dislike the feel of the litter because it will brush up against the hair on their upper legs, bottom and belly where there are sensitive hair follicles. This might irritate a cat. It may be irritating enough for them to seek out a better alternative.

Jane says:

“Some are diggers and coverers, some just squat, then leave….”


Incidentally, as I recall, Persian cats, which are as you know long-haired cats, are somewhat predisposed to peeing outside the litter box because of their generally sensitive mentality/personality.

All the above said, an ideal depth might be an inch or two of litter. With wood pellet litter I have had it under a inch in depth and it has been fine. I have seen litter which is too thinly spread at the bottom of a litter tray. I remember a boarding cattery providing litter trays with a tiny amount of wood pellet litter. This may be equally inappropriate but domestic cats normally adjust.

The type of litter may have an impact on the answer. I think that would pellet litter is more absorbent and better at containing odours than clumping clay litter. Therefore, on the face of it, it needn’t be quite so deep. I will defer, though to visitors if they disagree with me and have a superior answer.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • They all have different preferences, I have found.

    Some are diggers and coverers, some just squat, then leave.

    No cat likes getting pee soaked paws and hocks. Litter parsimony can lead to puss finding other places to eliminate.

    Big litter boxes seem better than small ones. A puss likes the option to change position if they choose.

    Different litter types = different grip/stability.

    Get to know your pusscat's preferences folks!

    • "Some are diggers and coverers, some just squat, then leave." made me smile. I should write an article (no you should!) titled 'Is your cat a digger or squatter?' Thanks Jane.

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