Which Litter Box Is Best – UnCovered Or Covered Litter Boxes?

Uncovered or covered litter boxes? Which type is the best? There are pros and cons for both types of boxes.

One size doesn’t fit all. Sometimes it is trial and error.

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Things To Know About Uncovered Litter Boxes

uncovered litter tray

If your cat flings litter around but you are not keen on a covered box, look for a box with high sides.

Be aware that boxes with high sides may not be suitable for kittens or senior cats  if the front opening is too high for easy entry and exit. You may need a bx with high sides and a low entry point.


A crawling baby may decide to explore an uncovered litter box so this could be a good time to have a closed litter box unless you can make the litter box inaccessible to the baby.

A Door Buddy is ideal to keep the baby and the litter box separated. It keeps the baby out of the litter box whilst still allowing the cat full access.

It's hard, no actually impossible, to be everywhere at once when baby is on the move.

Keep a baby on the crawl away from an uncovered litter box


It is easier to scoop an uncovered box. It is easier to get to and thus makes it more likely to be scooped regularly.  Just a quick glance at an uncovered litter box and it will be obvious if the box needs scooping.


Cats like to be able to take off in a hurry, which is a good reason for using an uncovered box.

Things To Know About Covered Litter Boxes

litter box with a cover

A typical example of a covered litter box however there are many choices and options


Some cats fling the litter around so if the mess is a problem, a covered box could be an option.


The upper half of the boxes unclip (see photo above) so the top can be removed for easy cleaning however this can be a hindrance for some people. Not all enclosed boxes have to have the top removed for everyday cleaning.
Several manufacturers of closed litter boxes have addressed this issue.

  1. The Nature's Miracle box has a flip top opening that increases the size of the opening to make scooping easier.
  2. The Catit box has a door/flap at the front where the cat enters that can also be flipped open, and it stays in place making it easy to scoop particularly when using a clumping type of litter.

Covered boxes often have a filter so there is ongoing odor control however being enclosed also means that the odor can get trapped in the box.

As cats have a keen sense of smell this can be off putting for the cat unless the box is scooped regularly, at least once a day and preferably more often.


Out of sight often means out of mind and an enclosed litter box may not be scooped as often as it should be, simply because it is not obvious to the eye that it needs scooping.


Aesthetically covered boxes look better as the litter is not on view.

This may be relevant if your living space is small.  If your cat is happy with a covered litter box, there are some fantastic covered litter box options that fit with home decor.

Some litter boxes fit inside these larger boxes which look more like pieces of furniture.


If you decide on a covered box, make sure that it is large so that the cat doesn't feel trapped and can easily turn around.


There is not as not as much air circulation in an enclosed box, so it takes longer for the litter to dry.


The dust from some litters can cause problems for asthmatic cats in an enclosed box.

Secondhand Litter Boxes

You may be able to pick up a litter box at a yard sale for pennies.  Before your kitty uses the box, give it a good wash, disinfect and rinse thoroughly. Rinsing thoroughly is essential because the smell of artificial scents used in cleaning products can definitely deter a cat from using a box.
(Note: The same applies to food bowls - rinse and rinse again.)

About Making Uncovered Or Covered Litter Boxes

You do not necessarily need to purchase a purpose made litter box. Think about whether you want uncovered or covered litter boxes as this will impact on the choice that you make regarding the height of the containers you choose. 

A plastic container that suits all the size requirements for your cat is okay to use if this is your preference. Regarding size, think one and a half times as long as your cat, approximately for the length of the box.
Cut a doorway in the longer side of the plastic container. The reason for the door being cut in the long side of the box is because as the cat enters, it is forced to turn around to accommodate its body length and this means pee cannot accidentally fly out of the opening. Yep, we have to outsmart the cat.

Make sure the opening is cut a little higher than the litter level. Obvious point I know, but we all suffer from brain fade sometimes.

and finally...

The very best thing for a cat and the litter box is simply keeping the litter box clean, scooping at least once daily but definitely more often if possible. Empty the litter box and wash the litter box regularly.

read our guide
How To Look After A Litter Box?
You'll Find The Answers To All Of The following FAQ

How Big Should The Litter Box Be?

How Often Should The Litter box Be Scooped?

Can Cat Litter Be Flushed Down The Toilet?

Can I Compost Cat Waste?

What is The Danger In Cleaning The Cat Litter Box To Pregnant Women?

How Do You Dispose Of Cat Litter?

Do I Need A Cat Litter Scoop?

How Often Do You Need To Clean the Litter box?

What Do You Use To Clean a Litter Box?

Where Should the Litter Box Be Located?

Should I Use A Litter Box Liner?

How Much Litter Should I Use?

More Cat Litter Articles

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This article will help you decide on the features you need in a top entry litter box.

What Litter Is Best For A Cat That Has Been Declawed?

These kitties need special attention. There are two things to consider. Firstly the litter that needs to be used after the operation and how to avoid the problem of these cats not wanting to use a litter box, a common reason for declawed cats being left at cat shelters.

is a covered or covered litter box the best

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