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How Deep Should Cat litter Be? A Rule Of Thumb For Quick Calculations

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Cat litter in its many forms is one of the many things to learn about when becoming a cat parent. I needed to learn,

  • What type of cat litter to buy?
  • What kind of cat litter pan works in my home?
  • How many cat litter pans do I need?
  • How deep should cat litter be? 

How Much Litter To Put In The Litter Box?

I buy cat litter that is scoopable, helps keep odors at bay and is at least 99.9 percent dust-free.

In answer to how deep should cat litter be? There should be at least three inches of litter in the pan. Some cats are deeper scratchers than other cats. If a cat loves to scratch a deep hole in the litter to bury its waste, four or five inches of litter should be enough. 

The quickest and easiest way to eyeball the amount of litter required, is to measure the correct depth in the litter box or boxes you have. Rule a line or draw a line using a permanent marker to indicate the litter level.

It is then quick and easy to see where to pour to. It may be necessary to redo these lines after the box has been washed. Takes away any uncertainly and makes it easy for all members of the family to fill the box and also carers. No guesswork or wastage.

If I put too much litter in my cat’s litter pan, the cat throws a good share of litter out of the box onto the surrounding floor when digging a hole. I have another mess to sweep up.

No matter how much litter I put into the pan, I always have a certain amount on the floor. I use a litter mat under the pan, which helps significantly contain loose litter.

vector cat pouring litter into a litter box
It has to be just right! You know, not too little, not too much!

Why Is it Important To Use The Right Cat Litter And The Right Amount?

I found out that dirty litter increases the risk of urinary tract infections in cats.

Going into the 21st century, we have seen a remarkable evolution in the cat litter industry, and new products continue to hit the market.

The development of Pretty Litter has heralded a new era of litter. This litter is able to assist with diagnosis of various common cat illnesses, particularly helpful if your cat is older.

The litter changes color alerting cat parents to investigate further.

For example, when the kitty pees in this litter, the color changes, signalling a urinary tract infection.

cat climbing into a litter box
Okay, Ill give this a go! A litter mat would be a good idea you know!

How Much Litter To Put In The Litter Box?

I buy cat litter that specifies that it is scoopable, traps waste odors, and is at least 99.9 percent dust-free. Inhaling the dust from cat litter can harm your cat and you. 

It may be wise to wear a mask when cleaning the litter box or changing the litter. Even if you purchase cat litter that is 99.9 percent dust-free, there remains a tiny element of dust.

If respiratory issues like COPD or asthma are an issue this is even more important. If you are pregnant, you should assign litter box cleaning to another member of our household or be sure to wear a mask.

You need to find the sweet spot, which is the amount of litter that is just right for your cat without adding so much litter that a lot is wasted by being kicked over the side of the box.

how much litter should be used in a litter box
This is not enough and the box is too small!

How Much Litter To Use For Multiple Cats?

I have had conflicting advice over the years regarding the number of cat litter boxes I need.

One vet told me that I needed three litter pans for every two cats. However, I never did that. I have a regular litter pan in the basement, two extra-large little pans on the second level, and a regular-sized litter pan on the third level of my home. I clean out these pans more frequently.

In addition to the number of cats you have, it will depend on the layout of your home. A home that is on one level will possibly not need as many litter boxes.

A Unique Litter Box idea With An Easy Litter Fill Strategy

I did not have the space or money to fill twelve litter boxes. I spoke to a friend of mine who was a cat parent for many years. She uses a pan that, amongst other things, can be used for mixing cement.

Each pan holds 40 pounds of litter. I thought she was absolutely crazy until I went to the store and looked at those pans. 

These mixing pans are large enough to hold two regular-sized cat litter pans. So, two cement mixing pans were equal to four litter pans, and this was the best I could do.

I had the space available, and this amount of litter was affordable. Once I put in this amount of litter, it was about four inches in each pan. The sides were not too high for the cats to jump into, but high enough that I had a lot less litter to sweep up. 

The cats absolutely loved these larger-than-life pans. They had room to move around. I discovered that if a litter pan is not large enough and your cat is large, they can easily pee over the side of the pan, and before you know it, you have a stinky urine mess under the litter pan.

Make sure the cat pan is large enough to accommodate the size of your kitty.

This is something to consider. Bear in mind that a larger box will be more cumbersome and bulky to clean so may not suit all people.

Cat looking at cat litter in a box
This looks deep enough. I’ll just have to check!

How Much Cat Litter To Use Per Month?

All households are different. I have six cats, which means I should (by the vet’s calculations) have nine litter pans. I have two extra-large pans that equal four regular-sized pans. I have an additional two regular-sized pans. This all equals six litter pans. I have litter pans on all three floors of my home.

I buy a scoopable litter called Fresh Step for multiple cat households. The two extra-large pans need 20 pounds of litter each, and the two regular pans require ten pounds of litter each. Using these amounts answered my question about how deep should cat litter be?

I buy forty pounds of litter every two weeks, which seems sufficient. Other cat parents may need to adjust this amount depending on the number of cats in the house.

excess cat litter on the floor
Uh oh! I’m just getting used to all this litter business!

How Much Litter For a Kitten

If you have a kitten, it only needs a small litter box with about two inches of litter. As the kitten grows, you may need to replace its pan with a larger one and adjust the litter level accordingly.

Multi-Level Homes

It is vital to have one to two litter pans on each floor of your home from the lower level to the highest level. As your cat ages, it appreciates having litter pans available on every floor. It is difficult to say how much cat litter is needed per month, as every home has more or fewer cats, and the needs of each cat may differ. On average, there are the following numbers.

  • A small cat needs about six pounds of litter each week or 24 pounds per month. 
  • A large cat needs at least ten pounds of litter per week or 40 pounds per month.
  • Illnesses play a role in how much litter is required per month. If your cat has diarrhoea or urinates a lot due to diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome, you need ten to 15 pounds more litter.
There’s nothing worse than not enough litter! My worst nightmare. It’s probably like running out of toilet paper for our owners!

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2 thoughts on “How Deep Should Cat litter Be? A Rule Of Thumb For Quick Calculations”

  1. Thank you for your comment and lucky you, to have 3 Maine Coons. They are the most beautiful cats. I totally agree with you regarding the litter trapper mats. They do help. Thank you for your suggestions re very fine litter for cats with long hair, pertinent points. Butt skiing – haha – a good description

  2. I have 3 extremely long, tall and big Maine coons. All 3 loved to dig to the bottom of the boxes. I put 35 to 40 lbs a week in each pan (Tidy Cat Fresh and Clean). No odor but my daughter and I were very diligent about scooping. I also got a great mat. It was 2 layers. The bottom was solid , 1 piece. The top was the same size, a little thicker with holes all over it. So the jumping litter pieces fell on the mat. Of course there was still some litter in those giant feet but like before. Just be careful with ultra fine litter if your kitty has long on his bottom and the back of their legs. It sticks to the wet hair, can get very hard and no matter how tidy your long hair is they can’t get it all cleaned off. Within a matter of5 days it obstructs their ability to totally empty their bladder and can cause an infection. But then there is always “butt skiing” to let you know there is a issue.

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