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TrainingPet Care

November 7, 2015

PetSafe® Expert

Amy Shojai, CABC

Cost Comparison of Litter & Litterboxes

Missing the litter box is the top complaint of cat owners, but offering cats the right equipment to "hit the spot" goes a long way to preventing mistakes. You'll need one or more litter pans, and an appropriate cat box filler.

Cats don't care what the box looks like, only that it's large enough and in the proper location. Most cats don't want to share facilities and even singleton cats may prefer one potty for liquids and another for solids. Prices listed below are for a single box; multiply by the number of boxes needed (generally one box per cat, plus one).

Litter Boxes

Compare cost and maintenance for basic litter boxes to more expensive boxes.

Litter Box Cost Maintenance
Standard $6 - 15 Scoop daily, clean & replace litter monthly
Hooded $15 - 18 Scoop daily, clean & replace litter monthly
Specialty $18 - $85 Scoop daily, clean & replace litter monthly
Designer $50 - $500+ Scoop daily, clean & replace litter monthly
Automatic (rake) $74 - $150 Clean/replace litter weekly/monthly
Automatic (rotate/self-rinse) $250 - $350 Clean/replace litter weekly/monthly

standard litter boxStandard litter box

  • The standard plain-and-simple litter box measures about 5 x 12 x 18 inches and is made of an easily cleaned plastic. Larger litter pans are available, and I generally recommend you get the largest one possible so jumbo-size cats have no problem hanging over the sides. Disposable litter boxes of the same size for about the same cost are also available and work well for travel or cat shows.
  • Cost: Low. $6 - $15.
  • Maintenance: High. Scoop/remove waste daily or oftener. Empty and wash box monthly or more often.

Hooded litter box

  • I'm not a fan of hooded litter boxes because they tend to hold odors (good for humans, bad for cats) and may cause Kitty to feel trapped. But hooded boxes work well for some cats and do contain urine-spray or kicked up litter from diggers. The ideal hooded box is transparent so cats can see out while they're posing. Litter boxes with covers cost more than standard pans.
  • Cost: Low. $15 - $18 or as high as $35.
  • Maintenance: High. Scoop/remove waste daily or oftener. Empty and wash box monthly or more often.

designer cat boxesSpecialty litter box

  • Specialty litter boxes designed to fit into corners, or with higher sides to capture urine spray, or to be "tilted/rolled" for self-cleaning also offer great options.
  • Cost: Medium. $18 - $85. 
  • Maintenance: Scoop/remove waste daily or oftener. Empty and wash box monthly or more often.

Designer litter box

  • These types of boxes fall at the high end of cost and consist of litter boxes disguised as attractive furniture. They may look like planters, or cabinets, or any combination you can imagine. The price varies accordingly, from relatively inexpensive to high end styles and prices.
  • Cost: Medium - High. $50 - $500+
  • Maintenance: Scoop/remove waste daily or more often. Empty and wash box monthly or more often.

auto litter boxesAutomatic or self-cleaning litter box

  • Self-cleaning litter boxes offer great convenience for owners, and provide cats with an always-tidy toilet. There are several styles, from electronic versions that rotate, pans with rakes that scrape and capture waste, and recirculating systems that connect to the plumbing. Be aware that many of the "automatic" litter boxes require specific types of cat box filler to work properly.
  • Cost: High. Electronic rake-type products $74 - $150; rotating to self-rinsing products $250 - $350.
  • Maintenance: Remove waste from bin weekly or oftener as recommended by manufacturer. Empty and wash box monthly or more often if recommended.

Cat Box Litter & Filler

Once you choose your litter pan, decide what to put in the box. The clay-based products remain the most popular and economical choice, but there's a huge variety available to fit preference. You can find everything you need at most local grocery stores, but pet specialty stores and online venues offer more choices. Cat box filler typically is sold by the pound in bags, plastic pails, and jugs, but not all fillers are equal so read the fine print. For example, 4 pounds of some "green" cat box fillers may cost more per pound but last longer than 20 pounds of plain clay litter.

Litter/Filler Ave. Cost/Pound Maintenance
Clay $0.50 Replace litter weekly
Clumping $0.75 - 1.30 Scoop daily, replace monthly
Crystal $1.87 - 3.75 Scoop daily, replace monthly
Ec-friendly $1.10 - $3.75 Scoop daily, replace monthly

clumping or clay litterClay litter

  • Plain clay litters are the least expensive. They absorb moisture and help contain the waste by drying it out. You can buy them by the pound and bag the litter yourself, or buy 20-40 pound bags for a nominal fee. The price goes down depending on the amount purchased.
  • Cost: average 50-cents per pound
  • Maintenance: Collect feces daily, dump entire box weekly and refill with fresh litter

Clumping litter

  • Clumping litters usually are fine granules of clay that congeal liquid waste into a solid ball for easy removal. This litter costs a bit more but lasts longer than plain clay.
  • Cost: average 75-cents to $1.30 per pound
  • Maintenance: Scoop clumped/soiled litter daily, add fresh litter as needed.

lavender crystal litterCrystal litter

  • This type of cat box filler, composed of tiny crystals, do not clump but are designed to trap odor and moisture and contain urine for up to a month without the need to change the box.
  • Cost: average $1.87 to 3.75 per pound
  • Maintenance: Collect feces daily, throw out entire box monthly and replace with fresh crystals

Eco-friendly "green" litter

  • Environmentally friendly or "green" cat box filler has become more popular to reduce the impact of mining for clay, and to create biodegradable products less likely to impact landfills. These products seek to perform as well as traditional clumping, odor control products but may be made out of paper, wheat, corn, cedar shavings, bamboo, pine pellets, and all sorts of environmentally friendly ingredients that may be flushable, depending on your septic system.
  • Cost: average $1.10 to $3.75 per pound
  • Maintenance: Varies, depending on type of product. On average, scoop/collect waste daily, add fresh product as needed, and dump/thoroughly clean and add fresh to the box monthly.

Written by

Amy Shojai, CABC

Amy Shojai, CABC

Pet Expert

PetSafe® Expert

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