The Covered Litter Box - Cat Info Detective

The Covered Litter Box

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Greetings feline lovers! Skye Blake, here, with info I’ve uncovered for you about covered litter boxes. Are you thrilled yet?

Let’s sniff around…

paw prints coming in from a distance

The information here is for general knowledge… always see your vet with questions about your cat’s individual needs.

Who Is Skye Blake?

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, is a curious cat researcher (not a veterinarian) who sniffs out expert, reliable sources about cats, studies their information, then passes it on to you! 

Sometimes there’s not enough evidence for easy answers, so Skye gives you all sides, explains the situation as thoroughly and clearly as possible, and links you to experts on each page.

Sources are at the bottom of each page so you can do more snooping.

Is a Covered Litter Box Worth Getting?

bengal cat halfway in covered litter box

If you’re considering a covered litter box, review these pros and cons in light of your cat’s sensitivities, personality, and specific needs, as well as what you want.

Traditional covered boxes are rectangular, oval or round with a plastic cover.

Your cat enters and exits through a front opening.

cat in paper bag; covered litter box

Top-entry boxes are the same as front-entry ones except your cat enters and exits through a hole in the top.

If you’re dying to have covered boxes and your cat will accept them, be sure you get the right size so your cat can turn around and not be cramped.

Many rotating, robot, and other specialty boxes are considered covered boxes.

The Pros & Cons of Covered Litter Boxes

cat peeking out of top covered litter box

Pros

Covered boxes are used to contain litter mess, control odor, and keep pee in the box.

Controlling Odors

The idea of having a cover over a litter box to keep in odors is a good one and it works to some degree.

But many people think this is a way to avoid cleaning the box, which isn’t the case.

cat with rubber ducky on head
Containing the Mess

These boxes help keep litter inside instead of being scattered everywhere when your cat digs.

Some top entry boxes have ridges to help get litter off your kitty’s paws when exiting.

They also prevent messes by keeping pee from going outside the box, which is especially good for stand-to-pee cats.

kitten upside down

Another advantage is that the litter is covered so dogs can’t get into mischief by eating the litter or poop.

This works particularly well with boxes that are all one piece or have locking lids.

Cons

Containing Odors
orange tabby; covered litter box

Even though odor is contained within the box for a little while, it becomes concentrated, and your kitty has to smell it with his sensitive nose… it won’t take long for you to notice it too!

Ewww… think port-a-potty on a hot summer day. No self-respecting feline will put up with that for long!

Just scoop twice a day and wash once a week or so (depending on what type of litter you use) to keep odors at bay.

Fur & Whiskers
Maine Coon longhaired black cat sitting on a chair

If you have a picky feline, especially a longhaired one, you could have a situation where your cat won’t use the box because her fur and/or whiskers brush the side of the box in an uncomfortable way.

Expense

Prices for covered boxes vary and some are expensive, so if you buy one and your cat decides he doesn’t like it, you’re stuck having to find something else.

calico cat on back
Escape Routes

Cats don’t need what humans call “privacy” but do need to feel secure while doing their business.

In homes with multiple cats, dogs, and children, a cat can be ambushed or otherwise harrassed while trying to use the box or when coming out of it.

This makes escape routes very important, and many cats won’t use one where they feel threatened.

silver tabby cat

Covered boxes can cause problems in this situation because sight lines and escape routes are blocked by the cover.

To deal with this situation, boxes are now being made with the top removed but sides intact, or with translucent or clear sides.

Difficulty Getting In & Out
Cat sitting on top-entry covered litter box

Cats with medical problems (arthritis, urinary tract infections, etc.), along with small kittens, may find it too difficult to climb in and out of top-entry boxes.

Covered Litter Box Sources

cat going into self cleaning litter box

Regular covered boxes, both front and side-entry type, are available at pet stores and online suppliers like Amazon and Chewy.

Automatic rotating litter boxes like Litter Robot® are covered litter boxes as well.

They’re available on the Litter Robot® website and at Chewy and Amazon.

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

cat watching other cat in litter box

Curious about other types of boxes, litter, and accessories? Check out “Supplies For Cats“.

If you’re having problems with a cat peeing or pooping outside the litter box, take a look at “Behavior” to find out what might be causing this and how to fix it.


Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.

However, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

“16 Stand-Out Cat Litter Box Furniture Options to Fit Your Style”, The Dog People

77 Things to Know Before Getting a Cat“, by Susan M. Ewing, Fox Chapel Publishers International, Ltd., 2018

A-K

The Best Kind of Litter Box for Longhaired Cats“, by Jet Perreault, Petful, Dec 5, 2014

The Cat Whisperer“, by Mieshelle Nagelschneider, Bantam Books, The Random House Publishing Group, New York, NY, 2013, www.bantamdell.com

“Cat Wise”, Pam Johnson-Bennett, Penguin Books, an imprint of Random House LLC, New York, NY, 2016

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting & Owning a Cat”, by Sheila Webster Boneham, PhD, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., New York, NY, 2005

Decoding Your Cat” by American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, editors: Meghan E. Herron, DVM, DACVB; Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, DACVB; Carlo Siracusa, DVM, PhD, DACVB, DECAWBM, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, New York, NY, 2020

L-Z

“Litter Box Happiness for Cats of All Ages”, Dr. Sophia Yin, CattleDog Publishing, January 25, 2017

“Litter Box Solutions for Aging Cats”, Litter Robot

“Litter Training”, Kitten Lady

“The Special Needs of the Senior Cat”, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell Feline Health Center

Total Cat Mojo” by Jackson Galaxy with Mikel Delgado, PhD, Tarcher Perigree, Penguin Random House, LLC, New York, NY, 2017

Think Like a Cat, How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss“, by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Penguin Books, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, New York, NY, 2000, 2011

“What’s the Best Litter Box for Senior Cats”, FitSeer.com

“What Your Cat Wants”, by Francesca Riccomini, Thunder Bay Press, Octopus Publishing Group, San Diego, CA, 2012, www.thunderbaybooks.com

Updated April 13, 2024

Scroll to Top