A Cat Litter Box Cafeteria – Thinking Inside the Box!

siamese in litter box in litter box cafeteria post

You’ll find various posts on CatVetLife about litter boxes. For example, what’s the best box for old cats / kittens / large cats, and so on. But in the end, it doesn’t matter what WE WANT, but what YOUR CAT WANTS! Yes, that’s a bit annoying when you think you’ve found the most beautiful box on the planet that has the perfect dimensions for your space…and your cat says “Nope.” Read more to find out about a cat litter box cafeteria!

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That’s right. You have to “ASK” YOUR CAT!

Ok, yes, in the end there needs to be a happy medium between what you and your cat want, but we MUST consider their preferences first!

Some cats are very picky with their litter boxes. They tell us about their dislike of the boxes we provide by eliminating (i.e. urinating or defecating) outside of the box. We can’t really ask them what they don’t like about the box and what they would prefer, so we have to resort to another tactic.

We do this by creating a “Cat Litter Box Cafeteria.” For a litter box cafeteria, you provide several litter boxes in different styles with varying litters and let your cat choose which one(s) she prefers.

Follow these steps to create a Cat Litter Box Cafeteria:

blue litter box in cat litter box cafeteria post

  • Select an appropriate room in the house for the cat litter box cafeteria. It should be a quiet area that is easily accessible to your cat and large enough to hold a number of boxes.


  • Purchase at least two (preferably three or four) NEW litter boxes. We want new boxes because plastic tends to hold smells that your cat (but not you) can detect. Normally we recommend NO HOOD but in this case, the boxes should be of varying styles. For example: no hood, hood, very large, not-so-large, shallow sides, deep sides. Put the boxes close to each other in the room you have selected.


  •   Purchase a different type of litter for each box. Studies have shown that cats prefer non-scented clumping litters, but not all cats are the same! Options for litter include (but are not limited to): wheat litter, pine litter, wood litter (okocat Long-Hair type is one of my favorites), litter crystals, plain newspaper, and even old towels (for cats that like soft “substrates”). Rarely, a cat will prefer just an empty litter pan. FYI my favorite litter is the BOXIECAT line. Specifically, I use the BOXIEPRO.


  •  You can also vary the depth of the litter. Some cats prefer a deep layer, others like it more shallow.


  •  It is a good idea to keep one litter box as similar to the current box as possible – just in case your cat refuses the new boxes altogether!


  • Remember to still scoop all boxes TWICE daily. No excuses!


Please note:

  • Many cats that eliminate outside of the litter box have a medical reason for doing so (e.g., bladder inflammation, constipation, arthritis).  Please have your cat examined by your veterinarian to make sure these conditions are not present.
  • The most common cause of inappropriate elimination is a dirty litter box!  Please be sure to scoop twice daily, or empty non-scoopable litter once daily. Cats are cleaner than we are and an immaculate litter box is a must!


Does your cat have a favorite cat litter box or litter? Comment below!

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I’m Dr. Amber Carter. Board-certified feline-veterinarian. Business owner. Homeschooling mom. Cancer survivor. Hot chocolate connoisseur. 

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