Types of cat litter trays

There are all kinds of shapes, styles and designs of litter tray available, from simple boxes to fully automated solutions

Grey cat litter tray with catching rim

Open top trays

The most traditional type of litter tray is a simple plastic open box and is cheap and easily replaceable. If a tray is too shallow you may find that your cat does its toileting over the side by accident or makes quite a mess whilst digging litter around. Taller sided trays will solve this problem, but should not be so tall that your cat has to jump into the tray. Some open top litter trays have a rim around the edge to prevent litter being kicked out when your cat digs. Open trays are the simplest and easiest litter trays to maintain.

Covered litter trays

A covered tray is more expensive but does offer plenty of advantages if your cat is happy to use one. Covered trays are normally in two halves with the bottom half just like a normal tray. The top half may be solid or with openings for airflow and the entrance is normally just an opening although some covered litter trays even have cat flaps built in. A covered tray will give your cat more privacy, reduce odours from spreading and hide unsightly waste from view.

Whilst these are clear benefits, not all cats will prefer a covered tray and extra care must be taken to ensure they are kept as clean as possible. Whilst they reduce odours from spreading around the house, inside the covered tray odour builds up so if it is not kept clean, your cat will not want to use it. Some cats will prefer the privacy of a covered tray but others may dislike the smaller space when they need to dig to cover their waste. If you are transitioning from an open to a covered tray.

Cat leaving a covered litter tray
A covered litter tray reduces odour and prevents spillage

Self cleaning trays

Some litter trays have grills or sieves which can be lifted out along with any waste, leaving the unsoiled litter behind. Even more complex designs are electric powered and have mechanisms which comb out any solid clumps or waste into a removable bag or tray. At the extreme end of this market are cat boxes which can be plumbed into the mains and waste pipes in your home and will automatically sort, rinse, and flush cat waste away, and even use permanent washable granules as the litter media.

Litter tray accessories

Alongside your litter tray you will need scoops and bags to remove and contain soiled waste. You can also purchase litter tray lining bags which fit inside your tray and can be removed and tied up along with all the litter. These can be very handy and aid a quick and clean litter change, although some cats don't like the plastic liners when they dig around the litter.

How many trays

If you have more than one cat it is best to have a litter tray for each. They may not always use the same tray but they will at least have the choice of using a tray the other cat has not already toileted in. The main thing is that their is always a clean litter tray available.

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