To cover or not to cover, that is the question! A question for you and for your cat. There are a number of pros and cons to covered vs uncovered litter boxes. For humans, in the pro column, they visually hide your cat’s bathroom, and going to the bathroom. If your cat is one who isn’t particularly fond of completely covering, they hide the bathroom going results too! Covered litter pans can look like fine furniture, a potted plant, a piece of modern sculpture, or like a plastic litter box with a cover on it! If the covered litter box has a door, it may slow down the transmission of smells, though really any litter box that a cat can get in to will have to allow air in to it, so smells can get out of it too. Trapping smells may be preferable to you, but cats have a very strong sense of smell, so they may find a covered litter box with a door to be offensive, even if they do get comfortable pushing the door aside to jump in and out. A door also makes it so that you have to remove and then replace the cover each time you do your daily box cleaning.
Covered boxes even without a door do provide a physical barrier on at least 3 sides for cats that like to do the can-can dance kicking the litter in all directions. That can also be accomplished with a very high-sided litter pan, like the DIY ones that people make for their cats out of storage containers, or the Tidy Cats Breeze Litter Box system. One of the covered litter box “pros” from a cat’s point of view is if they like some privacy, or are a little skittish about being ambushed by other pets in the home, a covered box gives them less possible attack routes to worry about.
If you have a regular uncovered style litter box, and would like to try a covered one, make sure you leave the original box in the same spot while you set up and try out the covered box. Cats can be very particular about new things, and you don’t want to take away the one place they feel safe to go to the bathroom!
Leave the new covered litterbox out with the old box for a couple of weeks. If your cat is using the covered box without any issues, you can slowly a few feet a day drag the old box away, and the new box into the old box’s place (if that’s where you’d like it to be). Then, you can take up the old box. Hang on to it though for at least another few weeks, just in case!
Want to learn more about litter box training and issues? Read…