Litter Trays: The Large, The Small, and the Stinky!

Litter Trays: The Large, The Small, and the Stinky!

Litter trays are an every day essential as a cat owner…


… especially if you have an indoor-only cat.  But it might surprise you to discover most litter trays in your standard pet shop are too small for your feline friend.

I’ve worked with cats for three years, this June 2018, and the number of owners that have mentioned to me that their cat will toilet in the bath/shower, rather than their litter tray, is more commonplace than you’d think.  Perhaps even you yourself are reading this and nodding your head in agreement!

In this month’s blog post, we’ll be talking about how to know what size is the right size – and what types of litter trays you can get too.

First and foremost!


If your cat has always used their litter tray without issue, and now suddenly starts to toilet elsewhere – get them checked out at the vet. A sudden change in behaviour can often be a sign of something not being right with your cat.

They don’t do it out of badness. So never punish your cat for toileting where you don’t want them to.  It can stress them out further, causing them to hide where they toilet – and makes the problem worse.

Remember – it’s not natural for cats to use a litter tray. We’ve trained them from kittens to do this.

Our youngest cat Regis was a feral kitten. He had never even seen a litter tray before! So on occasion he would toilet wherever he thought was a great place to go. (Funnily enough, his main place of choice was the bath!)  With perseverance and patience, he now knows the best place is the litter tray.

How will I know if the litter tray is too small?


There are a few ways to know if your litter tray is too small for your cat.  The first I have already mentioned: sometimes, or always, toileting elsewhere.

A few other indicators are things like:

  • your cat perching on the edge of the litter tray
  • struggling to manoeuvre inside the litter tray
  • accidentally peeing or pooing over the edge of uncovered litter trays
  • your cat occupies the whole of the tray


The general rule of thumb is that the litter tray should be one and a half times the length of your cat.  If you’re not sure your kitty will fit, go for a bigger tray.

The largest litter trays we use for our boarding cats are what’s classed as ‘jumbo’ litter trays. Our 7+kg clients can fit inside them easily.

Hooded vs unhooded litter trays


Both types have pros and cons. At the end of the day it really comes down to personal preference. Whichever you go for, remember that cats are very clean creatures with an excellent sense of smell. So whenever they use it – remove the soiled litter and poo.

Most may reuse a litter tray because they don’t have any other choice, others will refuse and toilet elsewhere.  Plus, not cleaning it each time means a build-up of bacteria, which is never good for their health. Clean trays = happier cats!

Hooded (covered/closed) litter trays contain any smells – so getting one with a filter is a plus for your cat! If your cat uses it before you can empty out the waste (i.e. as you’re out at work all day), it means they won’t be overwhelming their keen sense of smell when they re-enter it.

I take the flaps off all our litter trays, because some cats don’t like that they can’t see out of it. Felines are still in tune with their instincts, and when they go to the loo they feel vulnerable. Being able to see out, means they can keep an eye out for any potential threats and ambushes!

Unhooded (uncovered/open) litter trays are good as they offer your cat a completely unobstructed view around them while they do their business.  It’s usually also easier to get them in a variety of sizes. Which means finding the one that’s just right for your cat is a little easier.

On the down side, as it’s open it doesn’t contain any smells – but if your cat doesn’t do smelly poos it’s not much of an issue!  (Diet can also affect how smelly their poops are, but we’ll cover that in a future post)

‘Self-cleaning’ litter trays are becoming a trend. They scoop away the used litter once the cat has exited the litter tray. So no daily cleaning required on your part.  These are quite expensive, and are often too small – and can also be noisy. You do need to scrub it clean every so often, though this varies depending on manufacturer’s instructions and how many cats you own.



Whether you choose a covered or uncovered litter tray, the correct size is a must.

High sides on both types are perfect for those cats that really like to kick up a fuss, ensuring litter doesn’t go flying everywhere. It’s also good for cats that like to spray, catching any urine rather than over the edge of the tray.

And finally, if you have a multi-cat household – it’s best to provide one litter tray per cat. It’s more hygienic, and many cats prefer to use separate trays too.


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