It’s no secret that cats are picky about their litter boxes. Getting your cat’s litter box situation just right requires Goldilocks-level precision: not too big, but not too small; not too hidden, but not too public; not too covered, but not too open; not too this, and certainly not too that.
Add to your calculation the need to please a large breed or overweight cat, and the task becomes even more challenging. Never fear! We have narrowed down the most important things to consider when setting up a litter box for a large breed or overweight cat.
Why are large cats picky about the litter box?
Cats may love squeezing themselves into boxes or curling up in tight quarters, but when it comes to the litter box, it’s a very different story. Larger cats simply don’t fit comfortably in average-sized litter boxes. They need more space to turn around and stand up. They need to enter and exit without touching walls or ceilings. They simply need a litter box that fits them if we’re to expect them to use it reliably.
When you have a large breed cat—or even just a cat with some extra padding—you’re going to have to pay special attention to his or her litter box needs.
When selecting a litter box for a large cat, the general idea is—you guessed it—big cats need big litter boxes. You may have to eke out the space for its larger footprint and possibly pay a little more for a larger kitty-commode, but those minor inconveniences are well worth it to prevent your large cat from avoiding an undersized litter box and choosing to go elsewhere.
How big is big enough? The rule of thumb is that a litter box should be at least one-and-a-half times as long as your largest cat. So, measuring your big cat is a good place to start in determining what you need. Jot down your pet’s measurements before you start shopping. While there are many oversized litter boxes out there, from traditional and online retailers, you can also DIY with a little creativity.
If you have an especially large cat or multiple large cats, you may want to use plastic containers as litter boxes. Large storage bins and under-bed storage containers make for cost-effective litter boxes. If you have a litter-kicking kitty, buy a container with high walls (clear plastic is best) and cut out an entryway; otherwise, choose a large, low-walled container, fill it with litter, and there you have it: a litter box that’s juuust right.
You may prefer a covered litter box to contain smells and keep the clumps out of sight, but your large cat probably doesn’t. Large cats tend to prefer open-feeling litter boxes that don’t have a cover or hood. Enclosed litter boxes force cats to enter and exit through a small doorway, can prevent them from turning around comfortably, and can make them feel vulnerable to ambush by other cats in the household.
If your large cat refuses to use a covered box, try removing the cover to see if that makes your pet more comfortable. You may also want to choose a litter box with low sides to make it more accessible for those overweight kitties with droopy bellies.
Larger cats make larger messes, so you might hope to use a self-cleaning litter box that does the work for you. The catch? They have to fit! There are only a few automatic or self-cleaning litter boxes out there made to fit large or overweight cats. If you can’t find a solution for your larger breed cat,
In addition to noting your cat’s measurements, shop around until you find a self-cleaning litter box that’s proven to be a successful solution for large cats. Again, choose an option that has an open feel, so your cat doesn’t feel confined and uncomfortable.
Multiple Litter Boxes
Don’t forget the golden rule for multiple cat households: Generally, you want the number of litter boxes to equal the number of cats, plus one. For a three-cat household, for example, you should maintain four litter boxes. If you have a self-cleaning litter box, you can get away with fewer litter boxes since it cleans itself automatically (and is therefore more attractive to use).
When one or more of your cats is larger than average, having enough appropriately-sized litter boxes is even more important. You don’t want to create a situation where all of your larger cats are forced to use one large litter box; give your larger cats plenty of options to keep them happy (and avoid a mess).
Many litter box problems can be solved by providing the right number of the right-sized litter boxes. Give your large cat the right kind of litter box and increase your chances of success!