Where to put a litter box in a small apartment


A cat fanatic and home decor expert shares her top tips for managing a litter box in a small space

Kate Benjamin with three of her 13 cats at home in Phoenix, Arizona.  Benjamin is co-author of bestselling books "Catify to satisfy" and "Certification."
Kate Benjamin with three of her 13 cats at home in Phoenix, Arizona. Benjamin is co-author of the bestselling books “Catify to Satisfy” and “Catification”. (Caitlin O’Hara/for The Washington Post)

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Kate Benjamin didn’t want to amass a baker’s dozen felines. They kind of piled up over the years as her two-bedroom condo in Phoenix became a pit stop for strays she intended — and often failed — to place elsewhere. She now lives with 13 cats (plus another human, her husband) in 1,100 square feet. So if you have any questions about keeping a litter box in a small space, Benjamin almost certainly has the answers.

She’s not just a recreational cat lady either. She’s a professional. In 2012, she launched Hauspanther, a design resource for cat owners; she is also co-author of the best-selling books “Catification” and “Catify to Satisfy”, both about creating cat-friendly, yet stylish homes.

Her own litter box routine involves scooping out all 11 boxes in her apartment several times a day, wiping them all down and freshening the litter box once a week, and performing a monthly deep cleaning which includes deep cleaning of their interior. All the while, she navigates the distinct preferences of her many four-legged companions. For example, Horacio Queso, a short-haired black gentleman, insists on exclusively using boxes from Benjamin’s office and must be promptly let in each morning.

That’s why, despite his years of research and first-hand experience, Benjamin points out that the real expert in small-space litter box strategy probably already lives in your home: your cat. “You have to listen to what they tell you“, she says.

Nevertheless, Benjamin’s advice is also very good.

Where to put a litter box in a small space

The worst thing about having a litter box in a small space is also a plus: because you can’t hide it in a basement or laundry room, you’ll probably do a better job remembering to clean it. . “It’s better for you, it’s better for the cat,” says Benjamin.

When determining where to place the box in a small space, it is important to choose a location where the cat has privacy. When cats go to the bathroom, they’re “programmed to think, oh, I just did something that might attract a predator,” Benjamin says, so they prefer a bit of isolation. However, do not place the box in a closet, where dust and odors can accumulate without good air circulation.

You’ll also want to avoid the kitchen, for the obvious reason that it’s unsanitary (not to mention, unappetizing).

If the box is going to be in a high traffic area, Benjamin suggests putting a screen around it (there are real litter screens, but any room divider will work as long as it’s easy to wipe down) . “It allows for really good airflow,” she says. “But there’s a bit of privacy and it’s really easy to move the screen and go back and clean it.”

Regardless of location, keep a small vacuum cleaner or broom nearby to store anything your cat follows outside of the box. Benjamin swears by his cordless Dyson, hanging on the wall.

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Reduce litter box odors in a small space

Even meticulously maintained litter boxes still smell from time to time. A nearby air purifier can help. Benjamin advises choosing one that isn’t too noisy — which might deter your cat from using the box — and buying one with a HEPA filter that will remove dust and pet dander from the box. air.

Benjamin has another tool she swears by: crushed zeolite, a natural mineral she describes as “baking soda on steroids.” Also used in horse boxes, zeolite is safe for cats, even if they digest it. Mix it with your litter to reduce odors.

Finally, if you can’t immediately take your collected litter bags to an outdoor trash can, consider getting a receptacle specifically designed for litter waste, which will also reduce odors.

Choosing a Litter Box for a Small Space

If there is a litter box available on the market, Benjamin has certainly tried it. “I have as much variety as possible in a small space without covering the whole house with litter boxes,” she says. As with many cat dilemmas, figuring out which box is best for your pet can take some trial and error.

Top-entry models tend to be popular for smaller homes because they take advantage of vertical space and, compared to lidless or side-entry boxes, they do a good job of keeping trash contained. Still, this style won’t work for all pets, says Benjamin. If your cat is elderly or has mobility issues, they may have trouble getting on and off.

Top-entry boxes also give cats the chance of being ambushed by children or other pets as they try to get out. (The rare litter box ambush in the Benjamin home is usually caused by 2-year-old Sven, who can be “very unstable.”) Also, some cats don’t like to be locked in. A compromise that Benjamin likes is the Cove litter box from Tuft + Paw. It has high sides to keep trash inside and includes a removable wall.

In a small space, you might also consider a triangular litter box, designed to fit nicely into a corner, like the Kitangle Seamless Covered Litter Box, which Benjamin uses in her home.

Somewhat surprisingly for a woman with 13 cats, Benjamin isn’t a fan of robotic litter boxes that claim to be self-cleaning. She tried one a few years ago and says some of her cats were so put off by its sounds and movements that they refused to use it. Bear, one of his biggest cats, was so pissed off that he tried to hit him.

If aesthetics are important to you, there are plenty of litter boxes that look like furniture, including some disguised as end tables, cabinets, or planters. But don’t lose sight of the essentials: “It’s important that the cat has enough space to move around inside and feel comfortable,” explains Benjamin.

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Choose the right litter

Once you have the right box, you will need the right litter. Remember that if you decide to swap the type you are already using, you will need to keep an eye on your pet, as cats may become worried about the change. Try to incorporate yours into new things by gradually adding more to the box with each cleaning.

The first question to ask when buying litter is clumping or non-clumping? In small spaces the answer is almost always first, as the non-clumping type has to be completely emptied and replenished much more frequently (a pain when you have limited access to waste disposal and few places to store a extra bedding). However, the main disadvantage of clumping litter is that it is dusty. That’s why Benjamin tends to use it only in the seven litter boxes on her “catio” – her screened porch, which she’s naturally given over to the felines.

For its indoor bins, Benjamin uses crystal-type litter, which absorbs liquids and traps odors, but releases less dust. The downsides are that it needs to be replaced more often and its granules are sharp underfoot.

One thing Benjamin carefully avoids: scented litter. Cats have a very keen sense of smell and may find the smell unpleasant. Plus, as Benjamin aptly points out, “Masking the smell isn’t really dealing with it.”