Cats make great pets for someone living in an apartment.
They're cuddly and fun to play with, and they don't take up a lot of space.
According to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, between 2017 and 2018, 38 percent of U.S. households owned a cat. Many of those most likely didn't stop with one. There's something about bringing home two little kittens that will love you and each other which makes it hard to walk away with only one cat.
While the size of your home and the cost of pet care dictate how many pets you have, cats bring on a special challenge that dog owners don't experience, the litter box. It's not only about the type of box you get but which litter works best and where to put the litter box in your apartment.
You want the least mess and the tiniest odor possible without preventing your cat from easy access to go. Don't sweat the details, this comprehensive breakdown of all things litter-related will help you find the right combination of supplies to put your cat at ease.
More important than what the litter box looks like is what goes in it. Cats are notoriously picky about their litter, so it can sometimes be hard to decide which kind to use. “The number of cat litters on the market is mind-boggling, and the companies that sell the stuff work night and day to one-up each other with clever packaging and advertising strategies," says Dr. Becker from Healthy Pets.
If you can't trust what's on the package, the next best thing is to understand what's inside it. Knowing a little more about the common types of litter can help you find one with a low odor, that's easy to clean and healthy for your cat. Your primary options include four varieties.
There are two types of clay litter — clumping and non-clumping. Clumping clay forms into solid clumps when it gets wet. Non-clumping absorbs moisture but doesn't clump, making it easier to leave bits behind when cleaning, which can get smelly. Both types of litter are a little dusty, non-biodegradable and weigh a lot.
Formed into little crystals or beads, this type of litter is very absorbent, keeps the odor down and is almost dust-free. One of the more expensive litters, it does tend to last for a long time.
Not all cats like the feel of this litter and it can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts over a long period. Since cats often lick their paws after they get out of the litter box, this is something to consider.
Like so many other things, litter choices aren't limited to new materials. Recycled paper and pine are two options in this area. Turned into pellets or granules, paper litter is highly absorbent and biodegradable. The pine litter comes from toxin-free lumber scraps. The pine scent helps with odor control and the litter clumps somewhat.
It's almost impossible to believe what works today as cat litter. Many of these natural ingredients are absorbent, control odor and clump. They're also biodegradable. You can find litter made from corn, wheat, walnut shells and grass.
The one thing to note when looking at litters in this category is whether the organic material is safe for cats if eaten. Corn and wheat can both be problem ingredients for pets, so it may be best to try other options before those or consult your vet.
When it comes to the litter box, there are two decisions you have to make:
A self-cleaning litter box has all the perks you'd expect. You have less contact with pet waste, there can be better odor control and most importantly, you've saved the time of having to do the scooping yourself. They don't always do a complete job, however, and depending on the brand you get, you may still end up scooping.
If you want complete certainly your litter box is clean every time, invest in a cheap box and an even cheaper litter scoop. Surprisingly, it's up to you whether you get a lid for your litter box. Your cat most likely doesn't care.
In a study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery about litter box preferences, “overall, there was no significant difference between use of the two box styles." Having a lid contains the mess and odor, but no lid can make your litter box fit into smaller spaces, so it's up to you unless your cat files a complaint.
The best place for your litter box is somewhere out of the way where both you can your cat can reach. A bathroom often works well if you have space or an area in your apartment that isn't often used. A guest room or a spare closet where you can crack the door may work.
If you have no choice but to put it out in the open, consider using other items to make your litter box more discrete. A conveniently placed, pet-safe plant can help mask the smell and draw the eye away from the litter box in a commonly-used room. Remember, cats feel most comfortable going somewhere private and quiet just like you.
Cats like to go in a clean litter box. Some are picky enough to not go at all while there are remnants of their past visit still there. That being said, general litter box maintenance means regular cleanings. If you've got an automatic litter box, this gets handled for you. If you're scooping yourself, consider purchasing a litter genie to make the whole process less messy. You may also want to invest in a litter trapping mat to prevent your cat from tracking litter everywhere.
One other thing to consider that relates to maintenance is the number of litter boxes you have. “As a general rule, you should have one litter box per cat plus one extra. If you have one cat, you can get away with one litter box in a small house or apartment if you clean it often; otherwise, you should have a second one," says Litter Robot. While more than one litter box can seem like more work for you, it actually decreases the chance of an accident which is much worse to clean up.
All the varieties of litter and litter boxes are important because what it comes down to is your cat's preference. Even if you want the healthiest litter out there for your feline, they may hate it. When a cat hates their litter box, they don't use it, and that's a big problem.
The biggest tip on what to do with a litter box in your apartment is not get frustrated by it. When experimenting with new litters, buy a small amount to see if it's something your cat likes. They won't waste time showing you what they think.
When considering a new litter box, get one with a removable lid, so you can try it with the lid on and with it off. Flexibility with your litter box is the key to keeping your cat happy and not searching elsewhere for a place to do their business.