As a cat owner, you know how annoying and messy cat litter tracking can be. Those tiny litter granules somehow manage to get everywhere, dirtying up your floors and carpets. While you can’t stop a cat’s instinctive need to dig and bury, you can contain the mess.
In this ultimate guide, we will explore 17 ingenious tips and tricks to keep cat litter off the floor. From litter box placement to floor protection to cleaning routines, we have got you covered! Arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to preserve the cleanliness of your home despite sharing it with a furry feline.
The Perils of Litter – How It Spreads Through Your Home
Before we dive into solutions, let’s first understand the root of the litter tracking problem. There are a few key ways those pesky granules spread from box to floor:
Between Toes and Paws
Litter gets lodged deep in paw pads and toes as cats scratch around in the box. Even clean paws carry cling-ons.
Bits of litter cling to fur on paws, legs, and belly as cats exit the box. These granules then fall off around the home.
Litter Box Splatter
Energetic digging results in litter being flung out or spilled over the box’s sides.
Overly filled boxes can cause litter to accidentally get kicked out as cats bury their waste.
Litter Box Avoidance
When cats dislike their litter box they may opt to go elsewhere, leaving loose litter in their wake.
Playing and Digging
Cats gravitate towards litter texture. They may playfully dig and roll around in it, scattering granules outside the box.
As you can see, litter travels in many sneaky ways! But don’t despair, with some clever planning you can curb litter dispersal at the source and beyond.
Litter Box Placement – Location is Key
Strategic litter box placement is the first line of defense. Where you put the box greatly impacts how much litter gets kicked out of it. Here are some tips on ideal litter box locations:
Low Traffic Areas
Avoid high traffic spots in hallways or entryways where litter will likely get kicked and tracked through the whole house.
Discrete But Accessible Areas
Cats prefer private locations but also want convenient access. Try tucking the box in a quiet corner, closet, or unused room.
Avoid Near Food And Water
Litter boxes too close to food or water sources can promote poor litter habits. Separate food areas from facilities.
Away From Loud Appliances
Noisy washers, heaters, and vacuums make cats anxious. Make sure the box location is peaceful.
Ground Floor Only
Cats won’t climb multiple floors just to use the litter box. Always keep boxes on the main living level for easiest access.
Multiple Level Homes
For multi-story homes, place litter boxes on all levels including basements and finished attics.
Near Scratching Posts
Cats often like to scratch and bury right after using the litter box. Keeping posts nearby accommodates this instinct.
Pro Tip: Also consider your own nose and convenience. Avoid areas like next to your bed or by the kitchen.
Litter Box Setup – Optimizing Placement
Once you’ve selected a location, optimize the setup to further reduce tracking:
Place Box In A Corner
Wedging the litter box into a corner blocks one exit side so less litter gets kicked out.
Angle Box Opening Towards Wall
Position the box opening facing a wall or large piece of furniture to create a partial enclosure.
Elevate Box Slightly
Raise the litter box a few inches off the floor so stray grains drop below rather than on your floors.
Add Barriers Around Box
Use furniture, baby gates, plexiglass panels or cardboard to create barriers around litter box perimeter.
Pro Tip: Allow at least 1 foot of space around all sides of the box so your cat can move comfortably.
Specialty Litter Boxes – Containment Innovations
Investing in a well-designed litter box can greatly reduce tracking. Look for these helpful box features:
Top or Front Entry Boxes
Top entry boxes have a lid or roof with an opening on top rather than the front. This blocks litter from being kicked out the entrance. Front entry boxes have lower walls in front to make access easier for older or arthritic cats.
A lid, top or hood helps contain flying litter inside the box as cats dig. Some even have built-in flaps or swing doors to allow entry while covering the box.
Self-Cleaning & Sifting Boxes
These boxes have screens and grates to separate clean litter from waste. Less particles stick to paws using sifting litter. Automated rakes also keep litter cleaner with less digging required.
Litter Box Furniture
Furniture-style boxes conceal the litter while providing more containment. The furniture exterior catches litter tossed out by energetic diggers.
Disposable Litter Boxes
Cheap disposable boxes with activated charcoal to reduce odors can be tossed when damaged or too messy. Use for problem cats who track excessively.
Pro Tip: Look for smooth seams and edges without ridges or bumps that can catch claws and toss litter everywhere.
Beyond The Box Litter Tools
In addition to the box itself, utilize handy tools to catch and contain litter:
Place a large, textured mat in front of the litter box. The grooves and texture trap litter on cat’s paws as they exit the box.
Use trays or liners beneath litter boxes to catch any spilled litter through cracks or holes.
Litter Genie System
This system neatly scoops litter clumps into a special bag unit for no-mess disposal.
Pee Pads Around Box
Put down reusable pee pads around the box perimeter to quickly absorb stray litter grains.
Litter Trapper Mat
This mesh mat goes around 3 sides of the litter box to catch kicked out litter.
Pro Tip: Use mats and trays that extend beyond the box perimeter to catch all escaping litter.
Cat-Friendly Litter Selection
The texture and weight of the litter itself also impacts tracking. Look for these ideal litter traits:
Clay or Clumping Litters
Heavier, dense clays don’t stick to paws as much as lightweight litters. The clumps also tend to stay put in the box better.
Litters made from wood, paper, pine, corn, or wheat have a more solid texture and don’t track as easily as clay.
Heavily scented litters can put off cats and cause them to miss the box more. Light or unscented is ideal.
Dusty litters cling to paws and shake out around the house. Look for low-dust options like wood pellets.
Heavier options like crystals, pearls, or pellets don’t stick to paws as easily. The added weight makes them less likely to be kicked out.
Pro Tip: Try mixing heavier litter with your existing brand to add more heft and reduce dust.
Additional Litter Boxes – More Options
Some cats only like to pee or poop in certain boxes. Giving them options can improve habits.
Different Boxes For Urination & Bowel Movements
Try having one box just for peeing and one just for pooping. Place them far apart to accommodate particular preferences.
Multiple Litter Boxes
The general rule is number of boxes = number of cats + 1. More options means less competition and better litter habits.
Separate Boxes For Multiple Cats
Give each cat their own box in a different area so they don’t ambush each other. This reduces anxiety and scattering.
Extra Box In Problem Areas
Add additional boxes where your cat has had frequent accidents to retrain them to use the litter.
Pro Tip: Adding a box helps, but removing problem boxes in unsuitable areas improves training too.
Smart Litter Box Maintenance
Keep the litter box fresh and clean to encourage proper use and less mess:
Frequently Scoop Waste
Scoop solid waste at least once daily. Letting it pile up causes odor and drives cats away from the box.
Change Litters Frequently
Dump everything and add all new litter every 2-3 weeks to control dust and odor buildup that deters cats.
Wash Boxes Weekly
Use soap and hot water weekly to fully disinfect, remove stains, and improve box appeal.
Some cats don’t mind liners. Use liners to quickly swap out dirty litter and limit stuck-on debris.
Add More Litter
Refill low litter levels to give ample digging room. Cats dislike skimpy litter and may miss the box more.
Pro Tip: Place multiple trash bins near the litter box to make cleaning and waste disposal easier.
Cat-Proofing Floors & Furniture
Take proactive measures to protect your home from litter spread:
Use Mats & Runners
Place machine washable mats, rugs, and runners in high traffic zones around litter areas. The fabric catches loose granules from paws and shaking fur.
Use pet Friendly Rugs
Rugs and mats made from natural jute, outdoor fabric or tightly woven low-pile work best. The textures grab litter well.
Cover Floors With Towels Or Tarp
In heavy litter areas, layer towels, tarps or cheap remnants to protect floors. Simply toss or replace when too dirty.
Secure Slippery Rugs
Apply carpet tape or non-slip rug pads on smooth floors to keep coverings stationary and prevent shifting.
Install Washable Walls & Flooring
Tile, laminate, vinyl and easily washable walls survive litter messes better than carpet or drywall.
Pro Tip: Keep furniture legs brushed and free of clinging litter. Use furniture coasters to reduce debris contact.
Strategic Litter Area Cleaning
As diligent as you are, some litter still escapes. Minimize its spread through smart cleaning habits:
Hand Held Broom & Dustpan
Keep a mini broom, dustpan, and small waste bin near the litter box for quick cleanups.
Track & Sweep Regularly
Multiple times a day, walk around litter zones and sweep up any visible granules. Quick removal prevents spread.
Blot Wet Spots
For damp litter messes, blot up moisture first with paper towels before sweeping to avoid smearing.
Remove From Fabrics With Sticky Roller
Roll sticky tape lint rollers over floors, furniture, and rugs to remove clinging litter debris.
Make vacuuming around litter locations part of your daily home care routine using suction alone or brush roll engaged.
Pro Tip: Use crevice tools and vacuum attachments to target embedded litter in cracks, seams, and tight spaces.
Reduce Litter Tracking at The Source
Implement routines to remove litter at the source before your cat tracks throughout the home:
Paw Cleaning Station
Set up a cat paw cleaning station. Use pet wipes, towel, or brush to wipe paws after using the box. Offer treats to reward cooperation.
Sticky Paws Roller
Place a sticky roller by the litter box. As kitty exits, run it over paws and legs to remove clinging litter.
Alternate Exit Path
Cover the floor on one side of the box so your cat exits via a different, cleaned path each time to limit tracks.
Contain Right Away
If you spot litter on your cat, use a damp paper towel to wipe paws and brush debris from fur before they wander away.
Pro Tip: Schedule a paw trim if long nails are trapping more litter. Just don’t trim too short!
Motivate Good Litter Habits
Getting to the root cause of bad habits minimizes litter spread. Here’s how to encourage proper box use:
Rule Out Medical Issues
Urinary infections, dental disease, arthritis and other conditions can cause litter box problems. Have your vet check for underlying issues.
Reduce Stress Triggers
Anxious cats may miss the box. Identify and remove stressors like other pets, noise, small children.
Add More Enrichment
Increase playtime, cat trees, toys, and other enrichment to boost activity and health. A content cat uses the box correctly.
Adjust Litter Depth
Some cats don’t like deep litter. Try cutting depth down to 1-2 inches for fussy cats who track more as a result.
Consider Cat Attract Litter
This special litter has herbs and scents that encourage cats to use the litter box. It can help retrain good habits.
Pro Tip: Use positive reinforcement. Reward proper litter box use with treats and praise.
When All Else Fails – Litter Containment Methods
For stubborn litter scattering cats, it may be necessary to get creative. Here are some unique containment strategies:
DIY Litter Box Enclosure
Use cardboard, storage bins, or closet space to create a makeshift enclosed litter area that contains mess. Leave one opening as the entrance.
Temporary Indoor Cat Run
Cover a portion of floor with a tarp and set up a temporary fenced run with food, litter box, toys and bed. Close off the rest of the house until litter habits improve.
Cat Proofed Room
Designate one room in your home as the cat zone. Cover floors, block access under furniture and equip with scratching posts, bed, and litter box. Keep your cat contained when unsupervised.
Outdoor Litter Box Option
For home use, bring the litter box to a covered patio or enclosed porch temporarily when mess is out of control inside.
Litter Treadle Box
This specialty litter box has a treadle bar outside that must be pressed to gain interior entry, knocking litter off paws before entering.
Pro Tip: As a last resort, you may need to reconsider rehoming a chronically disruptive cat if they resist all litter box containment efforts.
Maintain Vigilance For Litter-Free Floors
Living with a cat while maintaining clean floors takes commitment. But with the right tools and techniques, it is achievable. Use the tips in this guide to reduce litter tracking from all angles. With strategic setup, floor protection, and containment methods you can stay on top of the mess. Combine multiple tactics for the best results. Find the right combination for your home and kitty. Stay vigilant in your quest for clean floors, and you can outsmart even the messiest cats!