Litter tracking is one of the most persistent problems that life with cats has to offer. The good news is there's a lot you can do to reduce the amount of cat litter tracked throughout your home. By selecting a low-tracking cat litter, using a high-sided litter box, and following our bonus tips, you'll stand a much better chance of keeping your home free from cat litter messes.
Here at tuft + paw, we are cat experts. Over the last couple years, we've spent countless hours determining which litter features are most important to cats and cat parents alike. The information in this article is based on consultation with a cat behaviorist, veterinarian, and hundreds of customer reviews on dozens of cat products.
Using the right low-tracking cat litter can be an absolute game-changer, and it's where we recommend focusing your first efforts. No cat litter is 100% non-tracking, but there are a few brands out there that can help dramatically reduce litter tracking in your home. Here's what to look for when selecting a low-tracking cat litter:
Pellet Litter Tracks Less
Probably the single biggest change you can make to fight litter tracking is using a pellet litter instead of a fine grain litter. Pellets are larger and heavier than small litter grains, so they are less likely to cling to your cat’s paws or be kicked out of the litter box. It also helps if they have a smooth texture that won't get caught on your kitty's fur. We find tofu litter to excel in this department.
Dust-Free Litter Tracks Less
Less dust = less tracking. Dust can coat your cat’s paws when they use the litter box and be tracked around the house. It can also be kicked up when your cat digs or when you add or remove litter from the box, resulting in a thin layer of dust settling on nearby surfaces. Finding a great dust-free cat litter will instantly improve the cleanliness of your home.
The second most important piece of the litter tracking puzzle is the litter box. Keeping litter contained is what litter boxes are for, but in our experience there is a huge difference between a well-designed litter box and a poorly designed one. Here are the main types of low-tracking litter boxes:
Large High-Sided Litter Boxes
A spacious, high-sided litter box solves so many litter tracking problems. If a litter box is too small and has low walls, it's virtually guaranteed that your cat will cause a mess. A well-designed litter box should be as long as your cat (from nose to tail) and have high walls to contain scatter when your cat digs or jumps out of the litter box. Ideally, there should also be one wall section lower than the others so your cat can enter easily. This is especially important for elderly cats with mobility issues.
Top-entry litter boxes are a more extreme version of the high-sided litter box. They usually don't have a side entryway option, so the cat must enter through a hole in the ceiling. This really helps with litter tracking, but it does have some drawbacks. Most importantly, top-entry litter boxes are not very accessible for cats with mobility issues. They also don't offer a clear view of the room for the cat using it, which can be stressful and allow other cats a chance to ambush them. Finally, they hide the dirty litter box from human eyes, which can result in cat parents cleaning the box less frequently.
Covered Litter Boxes
Covered litter boxes, like top-entry litter boxes, can help greatly reduce tracking but aren't the most cat-friendly option. A cat using a covered litter box has a poor view of the outside room and has to deal with all the nasty litter box smells trapped inside. For cat parents, the hidden litter waste may be easier to ignore and result in less frequent cleaning. On the plus side, covered litter boxes usually have a front entry that's more accessible for elderly cats (compared to top-entry litter boxes).
Litter Box Enclosures
Litter box enclosures take many forms, ranging from DIY plastic tubs to stylish home furniture. The idea is to enclose the regular litter box inside a larger barrier that limits litter tracking (and in some cases looks nice). As long as the enclosure is well ventilated and not cramped for the cat using it, we think they can be a great way to reduce litter mess. Just make sure to avoid the pitfalls of covered litter boxes and stay on top of scooping.
Haven Modern Litter Box Enclosure by tuft + paw - Shop Here
Bonus Tip: Litter Box Location
Okay, this isn't a kind of litter box, but where you put your litter box makes a huge difference for litter tracking. Placing your cat’s litter box in a separate room from the main living areas can reduce tracking in the places you’ll see it most. Rooms downstairs or with a lip at the doorway provide an extra barrier to stray litter, and rooms with smooth floors will be easier to clean than carpeted ones. Wherever you put the litter box, just make sure it's easily accessible for your cat.
A litter mat is basically any textured surface that you place under or around the litter box to catch scattered litter particles. They're not fancy, but they make a world of difference when it comes to litter tracking. You can get purpose-built litter mats made from silicone or rubber, or you can go the DIY route and use an old bath mat or a small rug.
4) Trim Long-Haired Cats
Long-haired cats tend to track litter a lot more than short-haired cats because of their tufty paws and tangly fur. Strategically trimming your long-haired cat can be surprisingly effective for reducing litter tracking. You'll want to trim the fur on their paws, the areas around their butt, and any spots that are likely to contact litter when they squat. Remember to always use electric clippers with a safety guard and NEVER USE SCISSORS when grooming your cat. If you don't feel comfortable trimming your cat's fur yourself, you can go to your local groomer for a more professional cut.
5) Clean the Litter Box Regularly
Even if you follow every tip we've laid out here, a bit of litter tracking is unavoidable when you live with cats. You'll still have to stay on top of cleaning the litter box and the surrounding area, so here are some tips to make cleaning a little easier.
Keep a Broom and Dustpan Nearby
Cleaning the litter box only takes a few seconds when you've got all the tools on hand, so keep a broom and dustpan nearby so you're more likely to do it. Some premium litter boxes—like our Cove Modern Litter Box—even come with built-in cleaning tools to make sweeping up an absolute breeze.
A broom and dustpan are great for daily spot cleaning, but every now and then you gotta deep clean. Vacuuming will catch any leftover particles or dust and is much better for cleaning carpeted surfaces.
Cats and cat litter can be a challenge to keep tidy, but with the right low-tracking cat litter and box setup—plus a little extra effort—it's possible to greatly reduce litter tracking in your home. If you nail those two things down and follow the rest of these tips you'll have a great chance of banishing that pesky cat litter from your floors. Good luck!
Actually, one last thing. As you can tell, we're very passionate about litter tracking here at tuft + paw, so we recently launched our own super low tracking cat litter! It's called Really Great Cat Litter (humble, we know) and it's thoughtfully sourced from soybean byproduct which would otherwise just be food waste. It's virtually dust-free and it's the lowest tracking litter we've ever used! Give it a look if that's you thing, or check out some of our other educational cat content below...