Litter tracking is, quite simply, the bane of every cat parent's existence. We hear you and we feel your pain, so we've compiled this master list of virtually every litter tracking tip and product recommendation we've ever published. There are many ways to tackle the problem of litter tracking, so here you'll find advice on :
choosing a low tracking litter
selecting a low tracking litter box
finding the right litter mat
and other tips for managing tracking!
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.
This article is composed of several smaller articles that we've combined and edited. As you scroll through, feel free to click out to more specific articles that cater to your exact needs.
For a more concise guide with mostly tips and fewer product recommendations, check out our article on how to stop litter tracking or watch our video below.
Choose a Low-Tracking Cat Litter
Step #1 to reduce litter tracking is to pick the right litter. 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:
Dust-Free Litter Tracks Less
A low-dust litter can drastically reduce litter mess. As any cat parent who's used clay litter can attest, dust can coat your cat’s paws when they use the litter box and be tracked around the home. It can also be kicked up when your cat digs or when you add or remove litter from the box, creating a thin layer of dust on nearby surfaces.
Pellet Litter Tracks Less
Arguably the most impactful change you can make to fight tracking is switching from a fine grain litter to a low-tracking pellet litter. Pellets are heavier and larger than standard grains of cat litter, so they're less likely to stick in your cat's paws or get scattered outside the box. An ideal pellet should also have a smooth texture to avoid getting caught in fur. We find tofu pellets to be the best for this.
Price: $29 for 9.5 lbs = $3.05/lb (shipping included) Rating: 4.7/5 with 373 reviews on tuft + paw Ingredients: soybean fiber, corn starch, corn flour, guar gum, charcoal
Pros: low tracking, very low dust, unscented, lightweight, flushable, biodegradable, eco-friendly, activated charcoal for odor control, paw-friendly texture vs other pellet litters Cons: pricey, subscription only
Disclaimer: Yes, we included our own low-tracking cat litter here. This is only because we truly think it performs excellently compared to other litters. We subjected it to the same scrutiny as every other litter we review and asked for honest opinions from experts and users.
Price: $17.99 for 18 lbs = $1.00/lb on Chewy Rating: 4.2/5 with 6,300 Amazon reviews Ingredients: pine sawdust, baking soda
Pros: great odor control, low tracking, low dust, affordable, lightweight, biodegradable, eco-friendly Cons: uncomfortable texture, pine scent, can become dusty, hard to clean
Choose a Low-Tracking Litter Box
The second thing to consider when preventing litter tracking is the litter box. We've found that there's a massive difference between a well-designed litter box and a poorly designed one, so picking the right litter box for your needs is crucial. Here are the main types of low-tracking litter boxes:
Large High-Sided Litter Boxes
A roomy, high-walled litter box solves the vast majority of litter tracking problems. A mess is all but guaranteed if you have a small, low-sided litter box. Look for a litter box with high walls to help limit scatter when your cat digs or leaves the litter box, and ideally it should be as long as your cat from nose to tail. Bonus points if the entryway is easily accessible (i.e. one side of the litter box is lower than the others). This is especially important for elderly cats and those with mobility issues.
Top-entry litter boxes take the concept of high walls a step further—just join them to the ceiling! Cats must enter through a hole in the top, though a few top-entry boxes also have a side entryway. This is great for litter tracking, but it does have some weaknesses. The main problem is that top-entry litter boxes are not very accessible for cats with mobility issues. They don't offer much visibility either, which can be stressful for the cat using it. Lastly, they hide the dirty litter box from humans, which can result in cat parents cleaning the box less often.
Covered Litter Boxes
Like top-entry litter boxes, covered litter boxes are effective for reducing tracking but are better for humans than cats. When using a covered litter box, a cat has to brave the trapped litter box odors and doesn't get a view of the outside room. Hiding the litter waste may seem attractive to cat parents, but once again, this makes cleaning the litter box easier to ignore or forget. On the positive side, we should mention that covered litter boxes usually have a more accessible front entry for elderly cats.
Litter Box Enclosures
A litter box enclosure can be an excellent way to contain your cat's litter mess, and they come in a wide range of styles and prices. At the higher end, they can even be nice pieces of furniture. Just make sure the enclosure's interior space is well-ventilated and roomy enough for your kitty to comfortably move around, and stay on top of scooping! Your cat will thank you.
Haven Litter Box Enclosure by tuft + paw - Shop Here
Bonus Tip: Litter Box Location
Where you put your litter box is of the utmost importance when you're trying to control 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.
Price: $149-$199 Rating: 4.8/5 with 445 reviews Size: 26"L x 16"W x 6.5"H (+8" with scatter shield) Materials: Double-walled thick matte plastic, rubber base
Pros: Excellent build quality, durable materials, high walls, large size, easy to clean, accessible entry, well-ventilated, good visibility, stylish design, scoop, dustpan, and brush included Cons: pricey
Disclaimer: Yes, we included our own litter box here. This is because we truly think it performs excellently compared to other litter boxes on the market. We subjected it to the same scrutiny as every other litter box on this list and asked for honest opinions from experts and cat parents.
Price: $699 Rating: 5/5 with 6 reviews Size: 32”L x 19”W x 24.5”H. Max litter box size is 21”L x 17”W. Materials: Premium plywood with ash veneer, metal, plastic, rubber
Pros: Excellent build quality, durable materials, easy to clean, accessible entry, well-ventilated, decent visibility, stylish design, scoop, dustpan, and brush included Cons: pricey, covered
Litter Boxes for Wood Pellet Cat Litter
Wood pellet cat litters are best used with a sifting litter box because they break down into sawdust when they absorb moisture. In a traditional litter box, sawdust can quickly accumulate and cause more tracking and dust issues. To avoid this problem, we recommend using wood pellet litters with a sifting litter box so that dirty sawdust is separated from the clean litter. Here's how to do it:
Fill the top pan of the sifting litter box with a layer of wood pellets.
Scoop poops as usual. After scooping, stir the pellets to allow any sawdust to fall to the bottom pan.
Every couple days, give the whole litter box a thorough shake. This helps ensure that all sawdust has fallen to the bottom pan, leaving only clean pellets up top.
Remove the top pan and throw out the sawdust that has gathered in the bottom pan.
Fill the litter box with fresh wood pellets as needed and repeat!
Price: $42.98 Rating: 4.6/5 with 65,000 Amazon reviews Size: 21"L x 16.5"W x 10.5"H (at highest point) Materials: Plastic
Pros: good sifting, easy to clean, lightweight, well-ventilated, good visibility, accessible entry, scoop included Cons: small size, pellets & pads aren't useful for wood litter, shallow bottom tray
Use a Litter Mat to Reduce Tracking
A litter mat is like a bathmat for your cat. It's a textured surface that you place under or around the litter box to catch any litter particles that end up outside of the box. They're pretty simple, but they can be incredibly effective at reducing litter tracking around your home. You can get specially designed litter mats made from silicone or PVC, or you can go the DIY route and use a small rug. All you're really trying to do is create a buffer zone between the litter box and the rest of the house.
Cove Modern Litter Box by tuft + paw - Shop Here- Credit: @morningbel
What to Look for in a Cat Litter Mat
Litter mats come in a wide array of designs and materials, but they all aim to achieve the same thing. Here are the main features to look for when shopping.
Litter Capture — Look for a textured mat that will trap small particles. For example, it could be covered in holes or ridges. It should be big enough to cover at least a few inches of floor beyond the litter box.
Liquid Capture — If your cat has bad aim when peeing in the litter box, you'll want a waterproof mat with a raised edge that will help contain any liquids. It should also be easily washable and odor-resistant (e.g. silicone).
Build Quality — A high quality litter mat should be made from durable materials and last for many years. Keep in mind that the most durable materials are often less-paw friendly, so be aware of how sensitive your cat's paws are.
Ease of Cleaning — A good litter mat should be easy to clean, whether being shaken out, vacuumed, or washed with water. Simple mat surfaces are easier to clean than complex ones.
Cat-Friendly Texture — Most cats will use most litter mats, but take extra care if your cat has sensitive paws! For a litter mat to be effective, your cat must step on it. If it's uncomfortable they won't want to walk across it, and then your litter mat is totally useless!
Price: $30 on Amazon Rating: 4.6/5 with 5,100 Amazon reviews Size: 30" x 23" Material: EVA foam
Pros: excellent litter capture, durable, waterproof, cat-friendly texture Cons: can be hard to clean, pricey (if not on sale)
Other Litter Tracking Tips
Trim Long-Haired Cats
Long-haired cats are more prone to litter tracking than short-haired cats because of their shaggy fur. We recommend trimming your long-haired cat's paws, the areas around their butt, and any spots that are likely to contact litter when they squat. Always use electric clippers with a safety guard and NEVER USE SCISSORS. If you have the budget, you can visit your local groomer for a more professional cut.
Clean the Litter Box Regularly
Even if you follow every recommendation we've made here, a bit of litter tracking is inevitable when you live with cats. You'll still have to regularly clean the litter box and the surrounding area, so here are some tips to make things a little easier.
Keep a Broom and Dustpan Nearby
Cleaning the litter box only takes a couple seconds when you've got the tools on hand, so keep a broom and dustpan close by so you're more likely to do it. Some premium litter boxes—like our Cove Litter Box—even come with built-in cleaning tools to make sweeping up an absolute breeze.
Even when you sweep regularly, a good ol' fashioned vacuum is needed for the occasional deep clean. Vacuuming is much better for cleaning carpeted surfaces and will catch any leftover particles or dust you missed with the broom.
We hope all these tips and product recommendations have been helpful for you in the fight against litter tracking. It can seem like a real uphill battle, but just a few key changes can make all the difference. We recommend testing out a low-tracking litter first, then you can look around for the perfect high-sided litter box and litter mat. When combined with a regular cleaning routine, these three items can make life with cats so much tidier. 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...