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Litterbox Size Preferences in Cats | VETgirl Veterinary CE Blog

In today's VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Dr. Lisa Radosta, DACVB of Florida Veterinary Behavior Service discusses litterbox size preference in domestic cats. As inappropriate urination is the #1 feline behavioral disorder, help your clients by educating them on what exact size box is appropriate for the average-sized cat.

This study looked at 74 cats in 43 households, and evaluated the size of the box and elimination. Guess what they found? Cats like bigger boxes! For cats with elimination problems, make sure to use bigger boxes and clean them frequently. If your client has more than one cat in the household, have the owner start with bigger boxes to prevent elimination problems from ever beginning! In general, you want a box as long as the cat is: from the tip of the cat's nose to the tip of the cat's tail (unless you have a Manx cat, where you should add on 8-12 inches). So, that means, litterboxes typically need to be 24" wide and 3 feet long.

Just remember: I like big boxes and I cannot lie...

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References:
1. Guy NC, Hopson M, Vanderstichel R. Litterbox size preference in domestic cats (Felis cats). Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2014;9(2):78-82.

Abstract:

The objective of this study was to evaluate the response of healthy housebound domestic cats to the simultaneous provision of 2 litterboxes of differing sizes by recording the average daily frequency of urination and defecation in each box. Forty-three households with 74 privately owned cats were each provided with 2 different-sized plastic containers, with the larger box being 86 cm in length, exceeding the size of commercially available litterboxes. Owners were also provided with an unlimited supply of clumping cat litter and a logbook to record daily urine and fecal deposits in the boxes as they were scooped over a 4-week period. The 2 litterboxes were initially placed at opposite sides of the same room in the owner's home. After 2 weeks, the boxes were emptied completely, refilled with clean clumping litter, and replaced in the opposite location. Results were recorded as simple counts of urine and fecal deposits for each day and each household. Over the 28-day period, there were a total of 5031 urine and fecal deposits in the larger boxes and 3239 urine and fecal deposits in the regular boxes. The effects of phase (days 1-14 vs. 15-28) and box size (regular vs. large) on the number of deposits per cat were evaluated using a linear mixed model. In addition to evaluating phase and box size, the effects of number of cats in the house, their average age, and gender were also evaluated. Urine deposits were significantly more frequent than fecal deposits. Large boxes were preferentially selected over regular boxes in both phases, but this difference was greater in phase 1 than phase 2. Further analysis indicated that there was a location preference during the first 2 days in phase 2, and this effect decreased as the study progressed. Results indicate that most cats show a definite preference for a larger litterbox than is typically available to them in homes and that other factors such as box cleanliness and location may have a compounding influence on this choice.

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