6 Real Tips to Stop Cat Litter Tracking (I Tried Them All!)

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Litter box management is something that all cat owners are always looking to improve. One aspect of that is how to stop or minimize litter tracking. It’s especially important because, without good litter and litter box management, homes can end up looking messy very quickly – not to mention quite unsanitary.

So how do you control or stop litter tracking?

  1. First, begin to transition your cats to less-tracking litter types.
  2. Second, designate a litter area trapping area/zone and create a boundary zone for the litterbox itself.
  3. Third, leverage different litter box designs, litter catching mats, and technologies to minimize and streamline cleaning tasks.
  4. Fourth, trim the long hairs from your cat’s paws to avoid it picking up light particles and dust.
  5. Fifth, use a litter mat to trap any litter that might get out of the litter box.
  6. Sixth, leverage the power of technology to streamline cleaning tasks!

Understanding Cat Litter Types and Its Tracking Properties

The larger pellet-type litter, such as tofu litter or pine litter, are the ones that track the least. This type of litter is typically heavier and easier to be spotted to be picked up or vacuumed. The problem is some cats might be picky. Therefore, a method is needed when changing to these types of litter or any litter for that matter.

Here are the most common litter types that you’ll find in most cat households:

  • Sand/clay litter – quite effective with reducing odor in the short term but incredibly dusty and the sand tracks everywhere. Also terrible for the environment as it is strip-mined to be obtained.
  • Crystal litter – strong odor-suppressing but since the crystals are quite small and fine, crystal litter tracks very easily. Less dust produced but doesn’t breakdown in landfills.
  • Tofu litter – not very strong odor control but cat owners can flush clumps down the toilet. Minimal dust and usually made from all natural ingredients. Tofu litter doesn’t track as much as sand or crystal litter.
  • Pine litter – decent odor control and highly absorbent. The pellets are large so there’s minimal litter tracking around the home. Not to mention, most pine litter brands use kiln-dried shavings reclaimed from lumber production – this means the litter is both sustainable and biodegradable.

1. Transition to the Less Tracking Litter Type

Litter tracking infographic.

All cat litter will track to some degree. However, the general rule is that the larger the litter types, the less it tracks.

Cat owners might also have to make compromises since each litter type also has its own odor-controlling capacity.

The key is choosing the litter type that strikes a good balance of odor control and is minimally tracking.

The litter type that I use in my small apartment is pine litter. Ever since transitioning to this litter, I have never looked back, nor have I ever want to check out other litter types.

Not only was it everything that was explained in the prior section, but it was very efficient to clean. The litter rarely has to be dumped out because it clearly separates the soiled sawdust and the fresh litter.

Therefore, dumping out a heavy litter box is a thing of the past. For more information about pine litter and how to easily transition to it, read about it here!

2. Put the Litter Box in an Area With a Ledge To Stop Litter Tracking

Some litter will roll around no matter what, especially if you’re using sand or clay. Putting your litter box just on an open flat floor is just asking for the litter to roll everywhere. Observe your home to see if there are any ledged areas. Ledges work great to contain litter that pops out of the box, which is then easily swept and cleaned. Or, if you don’t have any ledged areas around your home, make your own ledge!

Cat overlooking the litter box area near the front door.
The curtain covers the entrance to my apartment. At that entrance is where guests take off their shoes in most Asian households. Guests take off their shoes there, and it also makes a great zone for the litter box. As a result, the litter doesn’t go rolling everywhere!

For example, there is a shoe area for guests to leave their shoes for most places in Asia before coming into the room. This is the perfect place to put a litter box since the ledge of this area blocks some of the litter from coming out of the box. Also, this area is for shoes and outside tools. Therefore, the area is meant to be a bit dirty/messy.

A video guide on how to control and minimize cat litter tracking!

3. Trim Your Cat’s Paws to Prevent Litter From Sticking To Them

Cats with longer fur and hair will tend to pick up more litter from the box, especially if it’s one of the finer litter types. So it’s a good idea to trim some of the hair that grows between our cat’s toes.

The lighter and finer particles in the litter, the more it will scatter around the home. This is because small particles are more easily trapped in between our cat’s feet and body. As a result, when walking around, cats will spread their collection of litter like pollen. This is quite frustrating, especially when it ends up in places like the bed!

Scottish straight getting her paw fur trimmed.
Rosie is a Scottish Straight that has fuzzy hair. Although it’s quite cute for her fluffy boots to walk around, sometimes a trim is needed to minimize how much dust and stuff is carried by her little feet.

4. Use Litter Boxes With Higher Walls Or Designed to Stop Litter Tracking

Litter boxes with higher walls can contain the litter better, and less litter gets kicked out of the litter box.

Most modern litterboxes these days have some litter tracking management features. So choosing the right litterbox plays can play a big part in minimizing or stopping litter tracking.

Many modern litter box designs look great and work very well at controlling litter scatter/tracking. A litterbox design that a lot of people use is the top-entry litter box.

Litter boxes of different types.
Seen here are side-entry and top entry litter boxes. Both have their positives and drawbacks. The positives are that it contains litter and smells within the box. The drawback is that cats that go into the box aren’t aware of their environment, so they might avoid these litter boxes if another cat or animal ambushes them.

As the name describes, cats can enter from the top by jumping on the lid and going into it through the opening at the top. As the litter box is surrounded from all sides, the cat can kick up as much litter and dust as they want. The ridges at the top catch whatever litter is stuck on their paws.

However, these types of litter boxes do have some downsides. If the cat is too young or if it’s too painful/difficult to enter the box – that cat is going to look elsewhere to relieve itself. So make sure you’re using this for healthy teenage/adult cats. It’s also probably best for single-cat homes so that no other cat or animal can surprise them.

Modern litter box with litter tracking prevention features.
Some litter boxes even have small passageways before even entering the litterbox itself! So that most of the litter drops off before the cat leaves the litter box.

Most litter boxes will have small grate steps for the cat to step on so that the litter can drop off into the holes. However, it can still be a problem when cats dart right out after using the litter box!

For my recommendation of what litter box to use, keep reading!

5. Use a Litter Mat to Stop Litter Tracking By Preventing Reuptake

So your box trapped a lot of the litter, but what about the litter that’s already outside the box? Your cat could be in play mode and spread that around some more, or it might be a really humid day, and your cat’s foot might pick it back up and spread it around some more!

Thus, my last line of defense is a huge litter trapping mat! It prevents any reuptake of any litter that’s fallen by our playing cats or any litter that accidentally falls out during cleaning/usage.

Gray cat jumping out of the litter box.
The litter mat is a crucial part of my litter tracking management.

As the cats walk out of the litter box, the litter gets trapped inside the holes of these mats so that the cat doesn’t accidentally pick it back up again!

It’s rubberized and soft, so cats actually enjoy laying on these things. So it’s a good idea to give it a good cleaning every week or so to get rid of the dirty litter that’s trapped inside the mat.

6. Robotic or Wireless Vacuum For Easy Cleanup

Leverage the power of technology! What a world we live in. So far, most of the ideas were either cheap and or free. While this isn’t cheap, it is worth it because of the time and effort it saves, especially for owners with more than one cat.

Robotic or cordless vacuums are great for quickly cleaning messes or just sucking up those few lone litters right outside the litter box. It’s convenient and saves a lot of time.

Every night, right before I head to sleep, is playtime for my cats. When I was using clay litter (I don’t anymore) -this usually means it was litter-spreading time. Even with the steps above, some litter is inevitably flying around.

robotic vacuum trying to stop litter tracking.
While a robotic vacuum won’t clean every nook and cranny, it will save you the pain of vacuuming every day.

I quickly turn it on in the morning right before I head to work, and the robotic vacuum picks up most of the mess. When I come home, my sanity is saved, and the cats are happy. What more can I ask for.

If you decide to buy one, make sure the suction is strong enough to grab the litter on the ground. Even some regular wireless vacuum cleaners that I bought don’t pick up some heavier/larger litters. Luckily my robot picks up most things that are on the floor. Also, a bonus! It’s quite effective at controlling cat hair too.

See below for my recommendations!

Things to Avoid When Trying to Stop Litter Tracking

When dealing with our cat’s litter boxes and trying to stop litter tracking, we butlers sometimes take it to the extreme, which can cause some anxiety and discomfort in our cats. As cat owners know, any discomfort or problems associated with the litter box can be much worse than litter tracking: litter box avoidance.

Therefore, to prevent this, it’s best to stick to these guidelines when we try out a new litter box area or setup:

  • Don’t try to hide the litter box or place it in far off room (such as the bathroom, utility room, or closet).
  • Avoid loud areas or rooms.
  • Don’t place the litter box in small cluttered spaces.

The litter box location (see what location is best for your litterbox!) is huge for a cat. Sometimes it makes the difference of a cat deciding to go inside or outside of the box. It has to do with their instincts and natural behaviors.

A dark, cramped, or cluttered place is not where a cat wants to be when it wants to relieve itself. This is when they’re most vulnerable in the wild. Although we butlers know our cats are safe – our cats don’t. All domestic cats will have that same instinct.

Recommended Products

My Pick
Pure Clean Smart Robot Vacuum W/ Remote Control Pure Clean Smart Robot Vacuum W/ Remote Control

Keep your home free of dust, dirt, and pet hair with the Smart Robot Cleaning Vacuum with Remote Control from Pure Clean. It has dual spinning side brushes that capture dirt and lift debris into the bagless waste bin and an integrated dust filter for easy disposal. This self-programmed system features gyroscope technology to optimize cleaning routes and clean up in areas where your furry friend hangs out with anti-fall and anti-collision sensors for protection. Great for lazy butlers and has great reviews!

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Lasso Brag
  1. Purina Tidy Cats Hooded Litter Box System
  2. Purina Tidy Cats Hooded Litter Box System

    This litter box kit contains some pads and pellets (don't use them). I recommend just putting away the pellets that they give you and get pine litter. Pine litter works very well with this litter box and it's very easy to clean.

    Check Price!

    We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

  3. iPrimio Cat Litter Trapper EZ Clean Mat
  4. iPrimio Cat Litter Trapper EZ Clean Mat

    Litter mats are very effective tools used around the litter area. It traps whatever dust and litter that might come out from the box and prevents tracking. I use this item with my Purina Hooded litter box.

    Check Price!

    We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

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monsieurtn

With a science background and years of experience including learning, observing, and training cats - increasing our beloved feline's welfare and wellbeing is the priority and passion.

One thought on “6 Real Tips to Stop Cat Litter Tracking (I Tried Them All!)

  1. Hi,
    I want to Thank You for your very informative website. I have 3 Cats – one injured his leg a couple years ago, as well as being 20lbs, and because of this, does not have the best bathroom habits – litter strewn about etc.
    I was thinking about trying the pine litter but am concerned about the Cats ingesting particles when they
    clean their paws etc. Any information concerning this is much appreciated.
    Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
    Sincerely,
    Debra Lee

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