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Tips for Controlling Cat Litter Scatter

By Langley Cornwell

This is an area I need help with.

My husband and I are accustomed to sharing our living space with our pets. I freely admit that there are no restrictions in our home; our dog and our cat are allowed in every room and on every piece of furniture. We’d feed our animals high quality pet food like CANIDAE with our last nickel. I’m used to wearing a top layer of pet hair over my fleece or jersey clothes. When we’re going out in public, we’re used to quickly rolling a lint brush over our outfits before we leave. I could go on but the point should be clear, I love animals and everything that goes along with living with them.

Except for cat litter. It drives me nuts! Our cat is an indoor/outdoor guy so he mostly does his business outside now. When we first started letting our cat go outside, he would come back in to use the litter box and then immediately want to go back out and play. For the longest time he thought he could only “go” in the box. One day new neighbors moved in with an older cat. Our cats became friends and that mature cat taught our teenaged kitty it was okay to eliminate outside, that the whole big world could be used as a litter box. So now he goes out when he needs to “go” most of the time.

There are times, however, when he still uses his box and boy does he make a mess! He spreads cat litter all over the house. He’s a robust digger and it takes him a long time to get the litter organized just right. Then, when he’s done, he flings and slings the litter everywhere. We’ve found litter in our shoes, in our beds, even in our cars. It’s remarkable how far that litter spreads. We’ve tried the obvious solutions; litter boxes with high sides, covered litter boxes, but nothing changed. We’ve tried two types of mats that are designed to brush off a cat’s paws and contain the litter, but those haven’t worked. It was time to further my research. Here’s what I learned.    

Experiment with litter types. Lightweight litters seem to track and scatter easier than heavier litters. This makes sense. And apparently newspaper pellets don’t track at all. If any of you can recommend a litter that you’ve noticed doesn’t scatter horribly, please leave a comment and share your experience. I’m sure we’d all appreciate it.

Isolate or contain the box. Some people have a spare bathroom and keep the litter box in the bathtub. If that’s not feasible, Catster recommends keeping the litter box inside a plastic baby pool, which would serve the same purpose as the bathtub; your cat can dig and fling with reckless abandon and the litter will stay contained. Neither of these options are possible in our house. We could put the litter box in a large storage container and see if that helps, or put a large plastic washing machine tray underneath the box. Both of these suggestions have merit.

Try a different style litter box. Obviously deep, high sided litter boxes contain the litter better than short shallow ones. I’ve read about top-entry litter boxes but haven’t explored this option. Have any of you?

Find a suitable rug or mat. Our cat is finicky about what he’ll walk over. We purchased a cool circular rubber mat with nubs to help dislodge the litter stuck between a cat’s pads. This mat has a raised lip around the perimeter and the center is scored. When the litter is trapped within the confines of the mat, you can easily fold the mat to create a funnel and pour the stray litter into the trash. The design is intelligent and the product should work perfectly. The only thing is, our cat won’t walk on the mat. When he leaves the litter box he leaps over the mat. When he lands on our hardwood floors, litter skids everywhere. Having the mat makes the problem worse. Next I’m going to try a plush bath mat because he is content to walk on those. If you decide to go the rug or mat route, I suggest making sure your cat will walk over whatever material the mat is made of.

So far, the only thing that works with 100% accuracy is our whisk broom and dust pan. Sigh.

How do you deal with cat litter scatter and tracking?

Photo by Tom Thai

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