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Here’s How Deep Cat Litter Should Be (3 Tips)

Oliver Jones

Training cats to use a litter box is not easy. Since cats can be picky at even the best of times, a litter box that is in the wrong place, is the wrong size, or has the wrong depth of litter may prevent your cat from using their litter box.

Also, cat litter is not cheap, so the last thing that you want is to be wasting expensive litter by laying it too deep. Of course, too little litter in your cat’s box is not ideal either, as you’ll swiftly end up with a smelly mess! But just how deep should cat litter be?

There is no one definitive answer, so we put together the following three tips to help you gauge the right amount of litter to keep your cat happy and to save you money. Let’s get started!

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1. How many cats are using the litter box?

multiple kittens in a litter box
Image Credit: Albina-Tiplyashina, Shutterstock

The first step in gauging litter depth correctly depends on how many cats will be using the litter box. Naturally, the more cats using the litter box, the deeper the litter will need to be. For a single cat, a good rule of thumb is about 2 inches deep, as this will usually prevent urine from seeping through to the bottom and stop litter and feces from sticking to the litter box.

If you have multiple cats using the litter box, you’ll need to add another inch or so for each cat, depending on how much your litter box can hold before spilling. For most litter boxes, you shouldn’t have more than three cats using it, so around 5–6 inches should be ideal.


2. Use clumping litter

clumping litter
Image Credit: Boibin, Shutterstock

Another factor that will determine the depth of your cat’s litter is the type of litter that you’re using. In general, clumping litters are the most economical because they don’t need frequent changing due to the way that the urine binds to the litter and doesn’t spread through the box. You can then easily scoop out the messy sections and dispose of them. Clumping litter doesn’t need to be as deep as other litters for these reasons, and it will only need to be changed every week or two, depending on how many cats are using it.


3. Observe your cat

siamese cat sitting in a litter box
Image Credit: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

If you’re still unsure of exactly how deep your cat’s litter should be, it will help to observe your cat’s litter box habits. If the litter is spilling out of the box every time your cat uses it, or your cat cannot walk freely on the litter, you are probably using too much and the litter is too deep. If your cat’s litter box smells bad all the time, the feces is not being covered, or you notice your cat scratching at the litter box itself, the litter is most likely not deep enough.

Too much or too little litter may also result in litter box aversion, and your cat will stop using their box altogether.

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Final Thoughts

Depending on how many cats you own and the type of litter that you’re using, a good rule of thumb for litter depth is 2–3 inches. Begin with this depth, and then observe your cat closely. They’ll soon let you know if there is too much or too little litter! Cat litter can be expensive, so it’s vital to make sure you’re not using too much. Alternatively, using too little will result in foul odors in your home!


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.