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Do you need a litter box for an outdoor cat?

If you have an outdoor cat, you may question if it is even worth your time having a litter box. If you are wondering, I am going to explain why you need this as well as a good litter mat (Click here to see my 3 best cat litter mats to deal with urine spillages).

Do you need a litter box for an outdoor cat? Yes, it is a good idea to have a little box for an outdoor cat. Because there are occasions when they will need to use it indoors. On some occasions when going outside is not possible or practical. Therefore you need to have a litter tray.

Now you know that you should, let me explain what can restrict your cat going outside, why they should have a back-up litter tray at all times and more.

What could restrict your cat going outside?

Weather Conditions

If they have severe weather conditions sometimes it is necessary for your cat to stay inside. For example, it could be snowing outside. Or it could be extreme rain, to name a couple. If this is the case you need to have a litter tray so there is a backup plan.

Health Related Issues

Also if there is a health condition, your cat will struggle to get out. In these situations, you will need to have a litter tray.

How common are Outdoor Cats?

In general outdoor cats are very common in Europe. But less common in the US where people are encouraged to keep their cats indoors.

In Europe, the trend for outdoor cats is driven by lifestyle and work commitments. People that have full-time day jobs rely on their cats being out for most of the day.

After work, after they have spent all day roaming around outside. The owner will return and spend some quality time with them, including feeding and petting them. This is often backed up with a quality cat flap (Click here to see which cat flap is best, Cat Mate vs SureFlap?).

Why Should You Consider Having a Back-up litter tray?

do you need a litter box for an outdoor cat

do you need a litter box for an outdoor cat

In this section, I’m going to explain a number of different reasons why you should at least have a back-up litter tray indoors. To articulate this I will highlight some risks of not having this. Let me explain…

Weather conditions

As briefly discussed earlier, if there is extreme weather conditions this can impact your cat going outside, meaning your house may become the toilet if you get me.

Without going over the same ground I would just like to add that forcing your cat outside during some of these extreme weather conditions can cause them danger and is not advised, therefore a back-up litter tray indoors is ideal.

Problems with stray cats or other animals

There are may be occasions where you may find that your cat has issues with other stray cats. Or other pets such as your neighbour’s dog, for example.

In these situations, your cat may become stressed and anxious about going outside due to the fear of being attacked. You may notice during this time she may not want to leave the house.

In some cases, you may even notice that she will literally start leaving faeces in and around your house. So for these situations is it it is advisable to have a backup litter box in place. It is also a good idea to have microchipped cat door to lock out unwanted cats (Click here to see why I think these ones are best).

Health-related issues

As your cat gets older you may notice that they start to develop health-related issues (Click here to see why an Older Cat starts peeing everywhere). This can lead to difficulties in getting outside.

For example, they may start having joint related problems, or even kidney related problems, just to name a couple. During these times, it not always possible for your cat to go outside. In these situations having a backup little box inside is ideal if not mandatory.

Mess outside of your house

One of the issues that can happen with an outdoor cat not using a litter tray indoors is the mess that they can leave behind outside.

In general, the perception is cats are very clean animals. However, I can tell you from personal experience sometimes you may find your cat is actually doing its mess in random places. Such as your next door neighbour’s garden.

This can cause a lot of headache and problems for you. And in some cases cause conflict with your neighbour’s.

To avoid these situations you may want to consider having an indoor cat litter that is easy to clean, like a sifting litter box (Click here to see why I respect this one).

Unable to identify potential health issues

One of the dangers of allowing your cat to roam free outdoors and not use a litter tray is the fact that you do not get sight of potential health problems. Let me explain…

There are chances that your cat may develop health issues. They may not be major, to begin with. It could be something like diarrhoea or constipation. The problem is it could lead to something more severe if not discovered early.

An indoor litter tray allows you to inspect her faeces to understand if there may be a problem.

For example, if her stool is very runny, she could have diarrhoea. Once you notice this, you can to provide a remedy to help your cat.

Conversely, if the stool is really hard. Then this might be an indication that they could be constipated. This can be your opportunity to act early.

How can you train an outdoor cat to use a litter tray?

By now you may be thinking to yourself,  you get it, you understand why it is a good idea to have a backup litter tray. But, you are thinking to yourself: “how can you transition your cat to start using a litter tray”?

Let me give you some suggestions and pointers that can help you to train your cat to use an indoor litter tray…

Making it more appealing for them

Firstly you need to give them a couple of options. Rather than just plunking down one litter box in a random location, give them options.

If you can provide two litter boxes in convenient locations, this will work much better. For example, one litter tray leading to an outside door. This is great because they will usually walk through this area whenever they leave the house.

A second litter box could be placed in a nice private area that your cat may prefer using. Be mindful, you will need to test these locations. Just to see how your cat responds to it.

Avoiding closed litter boxes

Even though closed litter boxes sound good on paper. Although they make perfect logical sense to us as humans, your cat may not agree.

Your cat may feel a bit claustrophobic inside these closed litter trays. Also gets rid of that element of freedom that they like, especially for an outdoor cat.

In my opinion, this is one to avoid if you want to safely train your outdoor cat to use a litter tray.

Avoid automatic scoopers

You can get hold of some really cool auto scoop litter trays. Again, on paper again they sound like a good idea. Because it helps you maintain the cleanliness.

However, for a cat, these little electric sounds can cause them stress and anxiety. Therefore, for that reason, I would suggest avoiding this, you can get some great manual scoopers anyway (Click here to see why I rated this one). Especially in the early stages while you are trying to train your outdoor cat to use a litter tray.  Keep it basic, to begin with.

The bigger the better

When you are trying to transition your outdoor cat to use a litter tray. It is better to use a bigger one. Obviously, this depends on the size of your house or flat. But if you can fit a bigger one in, especially with a taller side, this would be best for your cat.

What type of litter should you provide for your cat?

There are many different types of cat litter substrate that you can use such as paper and silica.

If you are lucky and your cat is willing to use a biodegradable substrate than this is ideal because you can continue to maintain this and re-use it for a number of years. If you are lucky to have a self-cleaning litter box (Click here to see why I rated this one), you can choose the best litter that is compliant with it.

Lindsey Browlingdon

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