6 Myths About Cat Litter

How much do you know about Mr. Whiskers’ bathroom habits? Read up to separate cat litter fact from fiction.

CAT LITTER MYTH 1: If your cat urinates or defecates outside of its litter box, you can teach it not to by rubbing its nose in the mess.

Rubbing a cat’s nose into its waste won’t teach it to use the litter box—your cat will merely form a negative association with your touch, not the behavior you’re trying to discourage. Instead, try praising your cat or giving it a treat immediately after it uses the litter box correctly, so that it associates proper litter box use with a positive experience.


CAT LITTER MYTH 2: Cats instinctively know how to use litter boxes.

While most cats do instinctively prefer substrates that are granular and allow them to cover their feces, some need a little help. Encourage a cat to use its litter box, by placing it in its litter box after meals, after it drinks water, or after it wakes up from a long sleep.


CAT LITTER MYTH 3: Cats don’t care what kind of litter they use.

Some cats don’t have a litter preference, but others are sensitive to litter texture and smell. If you have a discerning kitty, you may need to experiment with a few different types of litter before finding one that works for your cat. Try to stick to litter that doesn’t produce a lot of dust and doesn’t have a strong scent—both can be allergy triggers for sensitive cats and can lead to conjunctivitis and asthma.


CAT LITTER MYTH 4: A standard litter box is large enough for most cats.

Experts recommend that a litter box should be 1 to 1.5 times the length of your cat’s body, so it’s likely the standard size you got at the pet store is too small. Feline hospital Paws, Whiskers & Claws recommends a large plastic storage bin instead of a commercial litter box, so that your cat has room to move around without stepping in soiled litter.


CAT LITTER MYTH 5: A hooded or covered litter box is always better.

While a litter box with a cover may provide some much-desired privacy for shy cats, it’s not for every feline. A cover can trap offensive odors inside—plus, if you have more than one cat at home, a cover can create an opportunity for an aggressive cat to ambush the other one using the box.


CAT LITTER MYTH 6: Cats sometimes eliminate outside of the litter box when they’re mad at you.

Cats don’t eliminate outside of their boxes because they’re mad that you forgot to buy more catnip. Rather, the behavior is usually indicative of a bigger problem—the cat could be unhappy with the litter or number of boxes in the home, or it could be due to stress or a medical problem like a urinary tract infection or a bladder blockage. Rule out medical issues by bringing Fluffy McFluffins to the vet as soon as you notice this behavior.



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Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Kathy K.
Kathy K.4 months ago

Great. thanks.

M.N. J.
M.N. J.5 months ago

My mother adopted a cat who was about six years old and had never seen a litter box before. (We think he had lived outdoors only, although he wasn't feral.) Since she lives in a coyote neighborhood, he was going through the transition to indoor living.

I don't know where she learned this trick, but she poured just a little bit of her own urine from a cup into his litter box. It was the thing that finally turned the light bulb on for him. "Oh, THAT's what you've been trying to tell me!"

She also had to find a way to securely keep her fireplace screen closed, because he still loved to sneak in there whenever possible to do his litter business. It made for some hilarious little black footprints around the living room, but a less adorable cleanup job in the fireplace.

(I hope Maureen H. no longer has any pets, because her idea of "training" is just plain old animal cruelty.)

DaleLovesOttawa O.
DaleLovesOttawa O.6 months ago

Interesting article on various cat litter myths. Thankfully, I have never known a person that I know who had tried myth number one.

Maureen H, you should not have a cat if that is how you treat a cat.

Valentina R.
Valentina R.6 months ago

I never used a covered litter box. You have to open it each time to clean it, absurdly troublesome, plus the cat doesn't have much space and the smell get trapped.
Not a fan of "scented" littereither: it gives me a headache, and seems unhealthy for the cats.
Tip # 4 is excellent, but a very large litter is only feasible if you have a large bathroom.

Jane R.
Jane R.6 months ago

Great information.

Donna Davis
Donna Davis7 months ago

Good to know

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney9 months ago

Great tips, thank you for sharing, I always keep litter trays clean, don't like dirty toilets cats don't like dirty litter trays.

Fi T.
Fi T.9 months ago

For our furry friends

Janis K.
Janis K.9 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G.9 months ago

very good advice, thank you