There’s no redeeming the all-around ickiness of the litter box, but we accept it as a necessary evil of living with our cats. Tracking and scatter is one of the biggest litter box complaints (right behind odors). Tracking happens when bits of litter get stuck between your cat’s toes or in her fur. Since it’s so lightweight, the litter quickly gets carried all over your home. You may find it in the kitchen, in your shoes, and even in your bed! Fortunately, litter tracking and scatter can be reigned in with a bit of effort.
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#1 – Switch litters
When it comes to scatter control, not all litters are created equally and some are more prone to tracking than others. As you may have guessed, the litters that track the most are ones that are lightweight or are made of very small particles (such as pine). This is because light and small-particled litters have an easy time “hitchhiking” on your cat’s body without being kicked off. For more control of litter tracking consider trying a heavier litter (like a standard weight clay) or one with large chunks (like one made of newspaper pellets). Note, however, that your cat will be the ultimate decider of whether or not her litter can be changed. Many cats will use whatever litter is available, but some are more picky and will only use the kind they are familiar with.
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#2 – Use a mat
Since tracking and scatter is such a universal problem, many manufacturers have answered the call with mats specially designed to catch stray litter as your cat exits the box. Litter mats come in many different sizes and employ a variety of different scatter control strategies– for instance, some are simply made of sticky rubber that’ll pluck the litter from your cat’s paws, while others have holes that’ll catch the litter as she exits the box. In your search, be sure to choose one that’s easily washable and large enough to cover the area around the litter box.
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#3 – Contain the litter box
Containing the litter box may take some creativity on your part, and how you choose to do it will depend a lot on what your housing situation looks like. Here are some ideas:
- Have an extra bathroom in your house that you don’t use? Put the litter box in the bathtub or shower stall.
- If you’ve got some extra space, put the litter box inside an empty kiddie pool.
- Cut an entry hole into the side of a large, clear tote bin (being sure to sand down the edges so they aren’t sharp) and put the litter box inside the tote.
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#4 – Rethink the litter box
There are some litter boxes on the market today that have been designed with scatter control in mind. Here are some of my favorites:
- Two Meows box with scatter control high-sided lid
- Petmate Booda Dome – I’d recommend this one for homes with only one animal, since the non-translucent lid can make cats in multi-animal homes feel vulnerable.
- Van Ness translucent lidded box
#5 – Sweep and vacuum more
If all else fails, you may have to simply get into a habit of sweeping and vacuuming more often. I’ve found that having a small lightweight vacuum on hand for quick spot-cleaning helps a lot.