Top entry litter boxes have gained significant popularity among cat parents in recent years. These designs offer a unique approach to keeping your cat's bathroom neat and tidy, but they’re not without their drawbacks. In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of top entry litter boxes, so you can make an informed choice for you and your cat.
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.
What Is a Top Entry Litter Box?
A top entry litter box is a design that stands apart from traditional litter boxes. Instead of an open tray, top entry boxes feature a covered structure with an opening at the top. The idea behind this design is to keep litter scatter and odors contained, providing a cleaner and more discreet litter box solution.
Top Entry Litter Box Pros
High Sides Limit Tracking
The high sides of top entry litter boxes act as a barrier to litter particles, significantly reducing the extent of litter tracking and scatter. With traditional low-sided litter pans, these granules often end up scattered across your floors.
The enclosed design of top entry litter boxes helps prevent unpleasant smells from wafting through your home. For cat owners who are particularly sensitive to litter box odors, this can be a welcome change.
From an aesthetic perspective, some top entry litter boxes offer a more streamlined and tidy appearance. They keep cat litter and waste out of sight, which some cat parents love.
Top Entry Litter Box Cons
While top entry litter boxes excel at trapping odors, this feature can also be a drawback. The reduced ventilation inside the enclosed space can lead to moisture and odor buildup, creating an uncomfortable environment for your cat. Adequate airflow is crucial for maintaining a clean and dry litter box.
For cats, visibility is key to feeling secure while using the litter box. Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t need “privacy” when doing their business. In top entry designs, the opening at the top limits their view of the surroundings. This lack of visibility can make some cats hesitant to use the box, especially in multi-cat households where the risk of being ambushed by another feline is a real concern.
While top entry litter boxes may work well for young healthy cats, they are not a suitable option for kittens, elderly cats, or those with mobility issues. Climbing in and out of the box can be challenging, making it less accessible for some.
Can Be Cramped
Cats need space to turn around and get comfortable in their litter box, so large cats may find top entry litter boxes a bit too cramped. The enclosed design may feel restrictive, leading to reluctance in using the box.
Easy to Ignore
Out of sight, out of mind—this saying can sometimes apply to top entry litter boxes. The hidden nature of these boxes can lead cat parents to forget about regular cleaning. Cats are very clean animals, and a clean litter box is crucial for their hygiene and comfort. The concealed design might tempt you to skip scooping duties.
Top Entry Litter Box Alternatives
If the cons of top entry litter boxes outweigh the pros for your situation, you'll be pleased to know that there are alternatives to consider. Here are two noteworthy options:
Large High-Sided Litter Box
Using a spacious, high-sided litter box is an excellent alternative to top entry designs. These open-top boxes offer ample room for your cat to move comfortably and indulge in their natural digging behaviors. With high sides, they are effective at minimizing litter tracking. Look for models with a low entryway cutout to ensure accessibility for all cats, regardless of age or mobility.
Litter Box Enclosure
Litter box enclosures come in various styles, from DIY solutions to stylish furniture pieces. They create a barrier around a traditional litter box, minimizing litter scatter. Just be sure to choose an enclosure that provides adequate ventilation, ensuring a fresh and odor-free environment for your cat. Some poorly designed enclosures suffer from the same problems as top entry litter boxes, so prioritize cat comfort when considering a litter box enclosure.
When it comes to selecting the right litter box for your cat, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each design. Top entry litter boxes can be a fantastic choice for some cat owners, while others may find them less suitable. By considering your cat's specific needs and your cleaning habits, you can make a litter box decision that keeps both you and your feline buddy content.