Hooded litter boxes are one of the most popular styles of litter box, but do our cats actually like them? In this article, we’ll delve into the world of hooded litter boxes, explore their pros and cons, and discover whether they align with your cat's preferences.
Here at tuft + paw, we are cat experts. Over the last couple years, we've spent countless hours determining which litter box features are most important to cats and cat parents alike. The information in this article is based on consultation with a cat behaviorist, veterinarian, hundreds of customer reviews, and our own experience as cat parents.
Tip: See our lists of the best non-tracking cat litters and best litters for odor control for recommendations on what to fill your litter box with.
What Is a Hooded Litter Box?
A hooded litter box, often called a covered or enclosed litter box, is a type of litter box enclosed by a hood or lid. The primary aim of this design is to control odors and minimize litter tracking. This design choice has its merits, but it also raises questions about how it affects our cats.
Pros of Hooded Litter Boxes
Control Litter Box Odor
One of the most significant advantages of hooded litter boxes is their effectiveness in controlling litter box odors. These boxes act as a physical barrier, preventing odors from permeating your home. Many of them also come with replaceable carbon or zeolite filters that capture and neutralize odorous particles. If you're a cat parent who values a fresh-smelling home, a hooded box can be a game-changer.
High Sides Limit Tracking
Cats can be enthusiastic diggers and can inadvertently scatter litter around when they bury their waste. Hooded litter boxes, with their high sides, significantly reduce this issue. They keep the litter inside, ensuring your home stays cleaner.
Another benefit of hooded litter boxes is their aesthetic appeal. The enclosed design gives them a tidy, discreet appearance that can easily blend with your home decor.
Cons of Hooded Litter Boxes
Trap Odors Inside
While they excel at containing odors, the same feature that makes hooded litter boxes so effective can be a downside as well. They limit airflow, which means odors stay trapped inside the litter box and moisture doesn’t evaporate quickly. Cats, with their keen sense of smell, may find the trapped odors seriously unpleasant when using the litter box.
Hooded boxes also limit visibility. Cats are creatures of caution, and they prefer to be aware of their surroundings, especially while using the litter box. With a hooded box, they might feel vulnerable and anxious, as they can't see if any other cats or potential threats are approaching. This can be a big issue in multi-cat households.
Easy to Ignore
The "out of sight, out of mind" approach has a downside. With hooded litter boxes, cat parents may become less diligent about cleaning. Since you can't always see or smell how dirty the box is, it's easier to forget to scoop it regularly. Neglecting cleanliness can lead to even stronger odors and an unpleasant experience for your cat.
Can Be Cramped
Hooded litter boxes can sometimes be cramped for larger cats. Cats need enough room to comfortably move around, dig, and turn, which isn't always possible in a hooded box. A tight space can deter your cat from using it.
Can Discourage Litter Box Use
Ultimately, these cons listed above can cause sensitive cats to avoid using their hooded litter box altogether. This can lead to an elimination elsewhere in the house, putting stress on your cat and straining your cat-human relationship.
Popular Hooded Litter Boxes
Catit Jumbo Hooded Cat Litter Pan
Pros: covered to contain odors and tracking, replaceable carbon air filter, lid mechanism for easy cleaning, large size, anti-leak design, carrying handle
Cons: mediocre quality, door issues, some minor leak issues, poor visibility & ventilation
Size: 22.4"L x 18.3"W x 19.7"H
Van Ness Enclosed XL Cat Litter Pan
Pros: covered to contain odors and tracking, replaceable zeolite air filter, easy to disassemble and clean, large size, affordable, carrying handle
Cons: low quality materials, door issues, poor visibility & ventilation, some minor leak issues
Materials: polypropylene plastic
Size: 21.5"L x 17.5"W x 18.13"H
Modkat XL Litter Box
Pros: large size, top & side entry, liner & scoop included, clean design, covered to contain odors and tracking
Cons: pricey, some fragile components, limited visibility and ventilation
Size: 21"L x 16.3"W x 17"H
Hooded Litter Box Alternatives
High-Sided Open Top Litter Boxes
Using a high-sided, open-top litter box can offer the best of both worlds. They control litter tracking while providing a more open and pleasant environment for your cat. They allow for better air circulation, which reduces odors as long as you stay on top of cleaning. They also have better visibility, which allows your cat to see their surroundings and not be ambushed in multi-cat households.
Litter Box Enclosures
Litter box enclosures come in various styles and materials, ranging from DIY solutions to stylish home furniture. They create a barrier around the original litter box, minimizing litter tracking, and adding a touch of elegance to your space. Just ensure the enclosure is adequately ventilated and spacious enough for your cat's comfort.
In conclusion, the preference for hooded litter boxes largely depends on your cat's personality and your cleaning habits. While they are effective at controlling odors and limiting tracking, the trade-offs, such as reduced visibility and the potential for your cat to dislike them, should be carefully considered. It's important to prioritize your cat's comfort and well-being when choosing the right litter box.