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Covered vs Uncovered Litter Boxes: Does My Cat Care?

Hallie Roddy

Even though there are a lot of cat owners out there who prefer covered litter boxes, it’s not about us at all. Making our cats feel comfortable in all areas of our home is crucial to their well-being. The happier they are with their environment, the less likely they are to act out. A cat’s finicky nature is just part of who they are. Sure, covered boxes keep undesirable sights hidden, but it’s ultimately up to your cat to decide which type they’re more comfortable with.

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Overview of Covered Litter Boxes:

covered litter box
Image Credit: Chewy

Researchers believe that most cats don’t actually have a preference for a specific type of litter box. Many of them are okay with using either kind, but there is still a good chunk of felines who prefer a bit more privacy while they take care of business. Just like some people who don’t want to go to the bathroom with the door open, there are cats that also enjoy that alone time.

Some larger cats don’t enjoy the covered boxes because they tend to be a bit small on the inside, but this isn’t a problem for every cat. They do a much better job keeping both the waste and the smells hidden so that guests aren’t exposed to it. Many of these boxes also feature ramps or stairs ideal for handicapped or senior cats that have a hard time making big movements.

Related Read: 10 Smart Ways to Hide the Cat Litter Box

Pros
  • Contains odors
  • Hides waste
  • Provides privacy
  • Some designs ideal for handicapped cats
  • Reduces litter spraying
Cons
  • Smaller than uncovered boxes
  • Trapped odors deter some cats
  • Traps cats prone to attacks from other felines
  • Easier to clean

Overview of Uncovered Litter Boxes:

uncovered litter box
Image Credit: Chewy

Uncovered litter boxes have just as many advantages and disadvantages as covered ones. To start, there isn’t a lot of privacy for shy kitties. Because the walls aren’t as high, it makes it easier for litter to spray out of the box and onto the floor. This means you spend a little more time cleaning up outside of the box. However, uncovered boxes are also easier to clean than covered ones because they have fewer nooks and crannies you must get into.

You might consider an uncovered litter box if you have multiple felines in the house and they like to pick on each other. Cats can escape from their vulnerable positions if they aren’t in an enclosed space. There is also more room for them to turn and move around, so the uncovered box doesn’t usually restrict any breeds.

Pros
  • Easier to clean
  • Doesn’t trap cats inside
  • More suitable for all cat sizes
  • Room to turn around
Cons
  • No privacy
  • Higher chance of litter spraying
  • Exposes odors and waste

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The Importance of Cleanliness

Cleanliness is one of the most critical factors to a cat. If they walk into a filthy box, they’ll prefer to go somewhere outside of the litter box rather than crouch around in a dirty box. Try to scoop out your litter box every single day. Keep at least one litter box per cat in the house, plus an extra. Ensure that the litter is at least two inches deep. Finally, change out all the litter and clean the box at least once a month but preferably every other week.

Image Credit: SURKED, Shutterstock

Are Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Worth the Money?

If you aren’t a fan of cleaning up litter, you might consider investing in a self-cleaning litter box. These boxes usually work on a timer and are consistently cleaning the box out throughout the entire day. You won’t have to worry about cleaning the box until the waste bin is full, and your cat always has a sanitary place to use the restroom. It’s a win-win situation. Plus, there are both covered and uncovered self-cleaning litter box options.

Picking a Litter Box Size

Cat owners often overlook the size of their cat’s litter box. If an area is too small, larger cats won’t hesitate to find somewhere else to go. Litter boxes should be 1.5x the length of your cat. Remember that there should also be multiple boxes located around the house if you have more than one feline.

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Quick Look: Our Top Choices

Image Product Details
Our Favorite Covered Cat Litter Box PetMate Booda Dome Clean Step Cat Litter Box PetMate Booda Dome Clean Step Cat Litter Box
Our Favorite Uncovered Cat Litter Box Nature's Miracle Just for Cat High-Sided Litter Box Nature's Miracle Just for Cat High-Sided Litter Box

Our Favorite Covered Cat Litter Box:

PetMate Booda Dome Clean Step Cat Litter Box

If we are going to buy a covered litter box, then we might as well get one that is going to be most comfortable for our kitties. This covered box by PetMate features a large interior and built-in steps to make it accessible for all cats regardless of shape or age. It is also affordable and made of an easy-to-clean material. Try this box out if you haven’t used a covered cat litter box before:

Our Favorite Uncovered Cat Litter Box:

Nature's Miracle Just for Cat High-Sided Litter Box

One of the things we despise most about uncovered litter boxes is all the litter that ends up on the floor. With this Nature’s Miracle litter box, the extra-tall walls keep the litter inside while still allowing your cat to be in the open. It is extremely affordable and even made from materials with antimicrobial properties.

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Conclusion

Buying a litter box takes quite a bit of consideration if you want to please your cat. Keep in mind that each pet cat has different preferences, and some people even benefit from having one of each in the house. If your pets are comfortable, you can’t go wrong with either option.


Featured Image Credit: Chewy

Hallie Roddy

Hallie has been a proud nature and animal enthusiast for as long as she can remember. She attributes her passion for the environment and all its creatures to her childhood when she was showing horses on weekends and spending her weeknights devoting her attention to her pets. She enjoys spending most of her time in Michigan playing with her two rescue cats, Chewbacca and Lena, and her dog, Clayton. When Hallie isn’t using her degree in English with a writing specialization to spread informative knowledge on pet care, you can find her snuggled up on the couch reading books or watching nature documentaries.