Speaking from experience: having a cat in a small apartment isn’t easy, but it is doable. While it’s taken me a lot of time to figure out how to fix some of the many space-specific problems that have cropped up, with two humans and a cat living and working full time in our humble little studio flat, I can attest to the fact that each and every issue has been manageable, and the vast majority are a piece of cake to overcome with a relatively small budget so long as you give the problem a bit of forethought and planning.
I definitely think the #1 source of the problems I fretted over when it came to having a cat in such a tiny space was the cat’s litter box. Over the years, I’ve learned quite a bit about managing litter smells and reducing litter tracking, which I feel are the two absolute biggest problems I had behind trying to make room for a litter box in a small apartment in the first place. I’m here to share my advice with you, so hopefully you won’t need to make many of the mistakes I did, and so you don’t end up buying something that in the end just plain doesn’t work out due to your limited space.
While I feel I’ve got a good grip on things now, I am absolutely always happy to learn more; so if you’ve a trick or two up your own sleeve in this department, please take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comments down below.
Now time to start things off. But before we get to the specific litter box recommendations –
Picture from post Home Tour: Our Flat is Practically an Ikea Showroom
First, Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Small Litter Box
As much as you may love how small litter boxes conserve the ever-so-precious space in your home, buying a small-sized litter box for is usually a bad idea. I’m sure you’ve already guessed the reason why – imagine having to go to the washroom on the world’s tiniest toilet yourself; I doubt you’d be pleased!
For a cat, there’s no downside to more space – just like the more roomy the bathroom for us, the more comfortable and less claustrophobic the space will make us feel. The larger the litter box for a cat, the more comfortable he or she will be – not only when physically using the restroom, but also when it comes to searching for a good spot to use the next time your cat has go, in case the litter box hasn’t been cleaned between uses.
And yes, not only is there benefit to bigger, there is also such a thing as a litter box that’s too small. Even if your cat is not very big, grabbing a small litter box can lead to a variety of issues in the long run – from peeing outside the box because of discomfort being crammed into a small space, to contracting UTIs from holding pee in too long out of stress that the kitty loo will be unclean. So you’ll really want to make sure the litter box you grab is roomy and comfy enough for your cat to be happy to use. It will help prevent some pretty big issues that could crop up down the line.
All this being said, it’s obviously important to maximize the space you have in your home from a livability perspective. Don’t stress, because even though you shouldn’t buy a small litter box, there are regular and even large-sized options that may in the end take up the same or even less space than a small litter box. Let’s start with my favourite solution…
Option 1: Top Entry Cat Litter Boxes
Top entry litter boxes are ones where the cat has to jump onto the top, lower himself in, use the bathroom, raise himself back up and then jump off to finish using. Essentially, the use of a top entry litter box makes it so that you don’t have to have a litter mat as well as a litter box. It’s a combined two in one solution, thus taking up far less room in total.
Sound tricky to train a cat to use? It’s really not all that bad, and in case you’re worried or eventually try and have a little trouble figuring out how to do it on your own, I’ve got an article up about how to train your cat to use one of these bad boys. As you can see from the comments on that post, while a few cats have trouble initially, many do not, and pretty well every cat gets the hang of it given a little patience and time.
I discovered a slew of benefits to top entry litter boxes that I didn’t realize existed before I made the move to using one. A lot of these really complement the needs of apartment dwelling cat owners like myself. Reducing stray litter, being less smelly than even covered litter boxes, and needing to be cleaned less often are a few, but if you’d like to see all my thoughts on the matter, head over to my article on why I now prefer top entry litter boxes.
Want to look through more options than I list below? Check out my top entry litter box considerations article here.
The new and improved IRIS top entry litter box is probably the best value top entry box available right now. It’s a pretty little thing (in my opinion) that comes in a few varieties of colours in case you don’t like the teal-lidded one I’ve shown. There’s a black and white version, a white and grey, and an all-white option to list a few. Comes with a scooper already, and while it doesn’t have a lining available, to my knowledge, it should be very easy to clean when needed since it appears to be made out of a lightweight plastic. I’d stick to the large size, since it gives kitty plenty of room.
The Modko Modkat is my personal favourite litter box aesthetically, and the one I chose to grab for myself a few years back since I wanted something nice that matched my furniture to place in my living, sleeping, and working room (studio life!). I love this thing to bits and haven’t for one second regretted the purchase, although I admit it was a bit steep. I think this is the largest top entry litter box available, and since my cat Avery is very tall, I’m sure he appreciates the extra space. But seeing as how I don’t need a litter mat paired with it, overall it still doesn’t take up very much room. If you’re interested in seeing my review of this box, you can find it here.
An excellent option and, in my opinion, the best value top entry litter box if you prefer to have liners like I do. While it’s a smidgen bigger than the IRIS litter box, there isn’t much difference between the two besides – unless of course you count aesthetics and variety of colour options, in which case the IRIS definitely wins.
Option 2: Hidden Cat Litter Boxes
While some hidden litter boxes save you a bit of space, they definitely don’t do the trick quite like top entry litter boxes do, especially since many of the smaller options still require litter mats alongside them. So if you’re really tight on space, my advice is to stick to the first type.
Have a little wiggle room to spare, but not much? You might want to opt into a hidden litter box that’s horizontal instead of vertical (#2 on this list), because those work in a similar way to top entry litter boxes and do ultimately take up a lot less room.
Absolutely do not care about the fact that the litter box takes up a lot of space, but really prefer your litter to look good in your small apartment unlike most eyesore ugly litter boxes? Hidden cat litter boxes are likely the best bet for you.
In case you’re curious about more options than the ones I list below, check out my best hidden cat litter boxes article here.
One of my absolute favourite YouTubers, Megan Bowan, has this litter box or one very similar to it in her apartment, and it’s ever-so-cute to watch her cat go in and have a bathroom break. Grabbing one of these + a teeny litter mat like this is a surefire bet at having a cat litter box you don’t hate hanging around your living room. Looking for compliments when guests come over? You’re almost sure to get some positive attention with this adorable thing!
Petsfit’s two-story hidden litter box is like a top-entry litter box on steroids. It’s got room for a litter box on the bottom, a litter mat at the top, as well as room to spare in case you’d also like to hide your cat’s food bowl and water dish in the top compartment. Moving water and food bowls in here may end up saving you more space in total than any other litter box listed here if it’s what you choose to do. Check out this review on Amazon for a visual example of what placing those there would look like.
I’d say this is one of your best options if room is not really the issue you have with your cat’s litter box. If your only problem is aesthetic in nature, and you don’t want your house to look overrun with cat furniture, this particular box would surely do the trick.
You could probably fit in a massive litter pan in as well as a litter mat. Or, if you’re interested in get a system in place that’s both low maintenance, low mess, and pretty to look at, this + an automated self-cleaning litter box, like the Petsafe Scoopfree Litter Pan + a high quality litter mat would be an amazing combination.
Option 3: Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Boxes
Opting to have an automated, self-cleaning cat litter box doesn’t preserve space by taking up less room or keeping you from needing a litter mat, but it can help you reduce the number of litter boxes you need in total if you have more than one cat.
The rule of thumb is to always have 1 cat litter box per cat + 1 extra, but if you have an automated litter box, chances are you will only need 1 cat litter box per cat, as at least the automated litter box you have should always be clean.
Obviously, self-cleaning cat litter bot robots should also help keep the apartment smelling fresh and clean over time, reducing litter smells by sliding smelly bits into a closed-off compartment soon after they’re left. But you definitely need to have a little extra room in your apartment to keep them in comparison to the other two types of litter boxes on this list, and especially by comparison to top-entry kinds, so there’s definitely a give-and-take happening here.
I don’t think I’ve seen a better value automatic self-cleaning litter box on the market; not yet at least. Not sure how much the recurring price of using this litter box would add up to, especially since you need to buy pee pads for it, but I’m sure that cost can be lessened by buying cheaper alternatives, like Amazon’s own brand ones, to the branded Purina ones. Either way, really low upfront cost, so worth looking into.
If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you might want to give the Petsafe ScoopFree Ultra a try. There seem to be pretty positive reviews on it, especially when you consider the majority of litter boxes typically get roughly 3/5 star reviews. And, as I said before, in case you’re interested in hiding it by paring this box up with hidden litter furniture, grabbing the uncovered version is even cheaper to do. If you’re not considering hiding the litter box at all, I do think this is probably the most visually appealing option when it comes to automated boxes, at least from my point of view.
Tried, tested, and true, this is one of the oldest well-functioning self-cleaning litter boxes around. Not sure if it can beat the first two options, but it’s a great option to consider if you’re interested in continuing to use the litter you currently have at home. To my knowledge, the other two boxes I’ve listed, as well as most other self-cleaning types, are intended to be used with a specialized cat litter and/or pee pads, so if using your own litter is important to you, be sure to pay close attention to whether you can continue to do so if you’re interested in an automated box.
Reduce Tracking with Hidden & Automatic Litter Boxes
The best way to prevent tracking if you aren’t opting into getting a top entry litter box is to make sure you have a quality litter mat.
Does it really make all that much of a difference? Based on what I’ve seen and the slew of reviews I’ve read through, it actually does.
Check out my article on the best litter mats to reduce tracking if you’re looking for a few recommendations, and if you’ve found an excellent one yourself, please share your discovery in the comments section of that article! Runaway litter is a frustrating thing to have to deal with day-in, day out, so your advice could really make a difference relieving stress from another cat owner’s life!
Keep Stinky Litter Smells at Bay
Living in a small apartment means you’re likely incredibly concerned about the smells that may come out of your cats litter box. Even if you don’t happen to live in a studio like me, you’re still likely to want to minimize the chance that litter smells are going to stink up a part of your apartment.
Luckily, reducing litter smells and keeping them at bay is a lot simpler than you might think. I have a tonne of advice on this topic, so if you’re interested in learning more check out my article about reducing litter box smells here.
Where to Keep Cat Litter Boxes in Small Apartments
Need help figuring out the best placement for your litter box? Check out this article on where to keep a litter box in an apartment for some ideas.
Already have a good idea of where you want your cat’s litter box to go, but need something slim to go in the spot you’re thinking of? Try a narrow, long cat litter box for the awkward space.
Your Small Apartment Litter Box Recommendations?
Do you have any litter box recommendations for pet parents living in small apartments?
If you currently live in a small apartment, what type of litter box do you have? Have you been considering making a switch to a different kind? Which have you considered? Do you have a particular litter box you love or have in mind to try?
If you currently live in a house, if you one day moved to someplace tight on space, do you think you would switch litter box types? Which type would you be most interested using?
Love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below!