I’ve done quite a lot of travelling, not with multiple cats, just with my single, “first child” furbaby, Avery. He’s travelled with us across continents once, and across country boarders twice by plane, first in 2016, when we moved from Canada to the UK, then in 2018, when we moved from the UK to Portugal.
Even before these really big plane travel moves, however, we’d already had plenty of experience moving with our furry feline – having gone back and forth a few times form house to house in Canada before we’d left. Needless to say, Avery’s a well travelled cat, and he was pretty darn used to travel long before we took him on flights with us. I’ve learned quite a lot along the way, and actually managed to pick up a trick or two in the litter department in the more recent travels.
A lot of the issues you’re likely to face travelling with a cat are a lot easier to deal with if you have a little time to plan for them. In terms of the sheer volume of tips I have accrued on the topic, you might want to head over to my article on moving with cats, because there’s too much to mention here. That being said there are a small number that stand out above the rest. These include:
- Taking the time to train your cat to be calm in carriers.
I promise this is 1. Very easy to do, and 2. Going to make your life easier in the occasion you need to transport your cat for reasons other than a move, like a trip to the vet, or an emergency like a house fire, whenever you need to get fluffy in or out, you will be so grateful you took the time to do this. Here’s the step-by-step on training your cat to not hate his or her carrier.
- Encouraging your cat to “go” before you need to go.
You can do this a couple (in my opinion, really effective) ways – 1. Playing with fluffy quite a lot to encourage bowl movements, and 2. Taking the time to do a short trip around the block right before you actually travel, then coming back home and letting him or her use the litter before packing up to go; the stress/anxiety over travel is usually enough to trigger a bowl release in my experience.
- Making sure you have everything you need in advance.
Important “travel things” include – 1. At least few days worth of kibble, 2. Travel litter box (which we’ll be discussing here), 3. Pee pads lined on the bottom of your cat’s carrier, 4. A travel water bowl for pets or a Tupperware you can use to offer water, 5. Poo bags, paper towel, and anti-bacterial wipes in case there are accidents you need to clean up, & 6. Something fabric-based that smells of your cat, like his or her blanket, to help anchor him or her to the new location and relieve stress upon arrival.
I know, skimming the above over may feel like a lot and quite overwhelming, but my guess is that you’ve already got most of that stuff covered – either in your head or maybe even prepared already for your trip to go. It’s not likely I told you anything too difficult to do, the only issue might be you may have read this too close to your travel time and so won’t be able to train your cat to be calm in his or her carrier, but the rest is pretty easy to do even last minute.
But let’s get to the main point of this article: the plethora of options you have when it comes to travel litter boxes. I am not going to lie to you, in my experience the very best travel litter box is not at all a made-as-such portable litter box – hell it’s not even a litter box at all. (Hint: It’s a litter box liner).
I’m going to start by showing the most popular type of portable litter box liner, then show you my favourite and why I like it best in the following list. Finally, I’ll discuss other popular alternatives and which cases those would be better for. There are honestly a slew of options out there, so don’t worry about finding something that’s right for you. I’m going to do my best to discuss when I think each one may or may not work, and if you have any more recommendations, tips, or suggestions for pet parents travelling with cats and working out litter solutions, I’m really happy to add to the tips in the following list – just leave your advice in the comments below! Let’s jump into it.
Travelling, Portable Litter Boxes for Cats: The Many Options Available
These are the standard travel litter boxes – portable and foldable varieties – that you maybe already knew existed. I think these were the only type of travelling litter boxes for cats that were around back when I was moving quite frequently back in Canada. I had a Studiproducts SturdiBox that I bought from their own website from the States, as I couldn’t find what I wanted easily in Canada. To get Avery ready for using it, I had it out around a month before we left, and he’s used it a number of times.
These are in my opinion quite good options if you have a cat who isn’t an aggressive digger. My first cat, Avery, is 100% an aggressive digger, so if he went to use the box, roughly a quarter of the litter would spill over the edge and onto the floor by the time he was done covering just once. It’s actually pretty sad how much of a mess he made. Luckily, I’ve found a fix for my travelling, portable, and even temporary litter box needs, but let me show you a few alternatives to this Necoichi Popup Portable Litter Box first so in case you don’t have a digger, and you like the look and convenience of this type of box, you can check out some other options before committing to one or another:
- Pet Fit For Life Collapsible Portable Litter Box and Bonus Collapsible Water Bowl
- PetLike Cat Travel Litter Box, Collapsible Portable Toilet Tray Carrier
- Misyue Cat Collapsible Litter Box Soft Foldable Waterproof Pet Cat Litter Pan Portable for Travel
Here’s where my bread’s buttered these days. I know this isn’t a product intended for use as a travelling litter box for cats at all. It is a litter box related product, but not a litter box in itself at all. Rather, it’s an extra liner I’d bought for my Modkat top entry litter box, and one day while considering how much I hated using my travelling litter box (right before we made the move from the UK to Portugal actually, so not too long ago), I decided I’d give filling this Modkat liner with litter, then having it up, all by its lonesome, for Avery to use as a little loo. So I took the liner out of the box, placed Avery next to it so that he sniffed, then gently pushed him toward it to see if he could walk through it easy – no problem!
My husband Thomas and I adopted a second cat, Bjorn, not too long ago, and in an attempt to get a few more litter boxes up around the house. I already had two Modkats by this point (yes, I love those things, just made an order for a third and now have one in each colour). Still, I wanted a box in case Bjorn didn’t take to the Modkat, or had squabbles with Avery over litter boxes. I placed two Modkat litter box liners filled with litter around the house and the cats have been using them since.
They barely have any spillage, and believe me spillage can happen a lot of ways: when your cat gets in and out, when he or she pees too high up the litter box, when digging – no issues yet. Worst that’s happened is some pee or poo stuck to the sides, but hey, that’s fully contained and quite easy to spot wipe clean. And these are quite affordable so you can always have a second to replace the first one with if it starts to smell or if you need to clean the first thoroughly for some reason. I’ve had mine up for months on their own, they haven’t had issues with breaking or leaking yet. So I feel it’s safe to say you’re likely quite good to go with just one when travelling. Easy to clean and fold away for re-use as well if you want/need to.
While I’m personally not into the idea of using a disposable cat litter pan like this one, really and truly mostly because of how much litter I think would end up all over the floor and how much of a mess my Avery would make down to his digging, there are plenty of people who love disposable litter boxes, especially considering how handy they are and how easy they are to use and throw away.
Considering Nature’s Miracle ones are made of recycled paper and are landfill safe, yet somehow still come out remarkably durable and leak-proof based on reviews, I can see why one might want to give them a shot. If you’re into the idea of a disposable litter box, check out more options here.
These travelling litter boxes for cats are in my opinion the much better, 2.0 version of the original ones I had. Their downsides are absolutely the same insofar as being not at all ideal if you have a cat who’s remotely near a digger in the kitty loo. That being said, they’re much more convenient thanks to one upside that is just ever-so-well thought out: they zip up and thus mean you can close them up and re-open them whenever you want, and you can use them to carry litter within them instead of having to carry litter in a separate container. I know, genius, I wish I had one to try.
Alternatives are plenty as well if you want quite a number of options to look through before committing –
- Petleader Collapsible Portable Cat Litter Box Black for Travel Light Weight Foldable
- IRIS Travel Cat Litter Pan, Yellow
- Petsfit 3.9”H x 15.3”W x 15.3”L Portable Travel Cat Litter Pan Foldable
- A4Pet Portable Cat Travel Litter Box, Litter Carrier, Easy to Use in Car or Hotel
- petisfam Sturdy Cat Travel Litter Box
Have no way to really use a litter box? Just need something to prevent pee and poo accidents in carriers until you get to your destination, where you can take out your cat’s regular litter box for full-on use? You should grab a pack of pee pads, as they’re really easy and convenient for this purpose. Especially if you have a cat who has more than his or her fair share of accidents when stressed or under pressure, and he or she doesn’t like car rides or carriers or any of that jazz, they really do come in handy.
I’d recommend pinning them down with safety pins if you like the idea of having multiple layers that you can wrap up and throw away if they happen to get soiled, as otherwise your cat may end up doing an uncomfortable dance since they sort of skid when placed on top of each other. That being said, on our way from the airport flying to Portugal from the UK, Avery took a wee on one of these and I didn’t even notice until I got home. I usually absolutely can smell cat pee, but I hadn’t noticed at all (nor did my husband!) when Avery peed on one of these. So, truth be told, you may not even feel the need to replace one of these if there’s a pee accident, as they do a good job absorbing and somehow seem to me able to cancel out bad smells, at least a little bit.
6. Pet Fit For Life Large Collapsible/Portable Cat Cage/Condo + Bonus Feather Toy & Collapsible Water/Food Bowl
If you’re in the market for both a collapsible cat tent carrier and a portable cat litter box, a lot of people seem to have luck with the Fet Fit for Life Large Collapsible Portable Cat Cage/Condo. It comes with a collapsible water and food bowl, as well as a feather wand and a portable cat litter box, which is super handy. It’s quite spacious, some people have even thrown their cat’s pet bed in it and it still looks quite roomy. One reviewer mentioned there’s enough room for two cats even with the litter box inside, which is nuts! I’d say definitely worth the price.
A couple more excellent options in the same vein: the Necoichi Portable Stress Free Cat Cage Always Ready to go! & the CheeringPet, Cat Travel Cage: Portable Pop Up Pet Crate with Collapsible Litter Box, Foldable Feeding Bowl, Hanging Feather Teaser and Ball, Carrying Bag, Extra Large.
This is one type of travel litter box I think would be okay for Avery. It’s a disposable, lightweight covered box that some have mentioned works remarkably well for road trips. I would still probably prefer to use the Modkat liner if I could, but it’s definitely a viable second option in my opinion.
If the reason you want a portable litter box is that you want to be able to throw something in the car for trips to and from cat sitters, say, I think your best option is to go the top entry litter box route. There are a number of top entry litter boxes that would work well, but I think the IRIS is the most inexpensive, best looking, and most compact yet lightweight of all of them out there, so it’s a hard winner in my mind.
Basically, with top entry litter boxes, your cat jumps onto the top of the litter box, jumps down into it, jumps out, then runs off. The reason they’re good in terms of portability? They typically come with a scooper already on them, essentially have a built in litter catching cat mat, and they contain the cat litter you’re using quite well, so you don’t have to carry the litter separately from the box. To “top” things off (pun intended, obviously!), you can usually put a lot more litter in one of these than a traditional litter pan, where you need to keep the litter a little shallow to allow your cat enough room to dig around. That means a whole lot of uses before the litter inside needs to be topped up.
I would absolutely grab one of these and have my cats use it at home regularly if I had to take my cat to and from another house regularly, such as to a friend’s to cat sit if I went away on work weekends every so often, or even because I shared a cat – whatever the need may be. So easy to throw into the back seat of a car to take to and fro alongside a cat in a carrier.
Just need the smallest litter pan you can get your hands on to place inside quite a large carrier you’ve managed to get ahold of so in case kitty needs to relieve him or herself, that’s possible? I can think of no better option than this ridiculously inexpensive small litter pan by Van Ness. Easy to wipe clean, easy to throw in the trunk of a car or wherever you have space, really. Not fold-able, so not a good idea for using if you’re travelling in a plane, a train, or anything like that, but for cars, vans, that type of thing, absolutely in my mind an excellent option.
Speaking of carriers large and spacious enough to fit a litter box in them, if you’d like something perfect at that, you may want to consider the Petgo Pet Tube Kennel. This thing can very, very comfortably fit two cats and a litter box inside. One pet owner, who called it ideal for multi-cat road trips, also placed a no spill pet water bowl inside, something like the PorablePet WaterBoy Travel Bowl, I believe. It looks fantastically comfy with everything a cat needs for that type of trip!
An alternative to the Petego Pet Tube Kennel that looks excellent as well: the One for Pets Fabric Portable 2-in-1 Double Pet Kennel/Shelter.
Your Thoughts on Portable Litter Boxes?
Have you ever travelled with a cat? Know anyone who has? What type of transportation was that cat taken with and for how long – and what did you (or they!) do about the litter situation?
Do you have any recommendations, tips, tricks, or advice for those trying to sort out what to do in the litter box department when taking a cat from one place to another?
Do you have any stories about moving with cats, especially when it comes to litter and/or accidents that you can share? Anything you would do differently or that you learned from the experience that we can all learn from?
Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!