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Can Litter Box Go Outside? (Or Is This Ridiculous?)

If you have an outdoor cat you may be wondering if you can have an outdoor litterbox…

Can a Litter Box Go Outside?

A litter box can go outside. But, it is not recommended. Also, to even consider it you need to have the correct litter box, good weather conditions, or a way to deal with rain or snow if it occurs. Also, it will need adequate cover to protect it and keep it clean.

Alternatives to an outdoor litter box

Description Image My Rating
01. PetSafe Cat Door (My Best)
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad
5 stars
02. Hooded Cat Litter Box
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad
03. Outdoor Foldable Litter Box
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad
4 stars

So, now you know. But, what are the benefits of an outdoor litter tray? What are the alternatives? Does an outdoor cat even need a litterbox? Keep reading for these answers, and so much more…

What are the benefits of an outdoor litter box?

One of the key benefits of having an outdoor litter box is avoiding the chance of your cat fouling in your neighbors garden. This is a common problem. And, without any litter box, your cat will need to foul somewhere.

If you have an outdoor cat and it hasn’t fouled in your next-door neighbors garden the chances are it’s doing to another home on your street and they just don’t know it’s your cat.

Do outdoor cats need a litter box?

Outdoor cats do need a litter box. It does not have to be located outside. And, it is better if it is not. There should be some way for it to access your home or at least know how to get your attention to let it in.

Ideally, it will roam around in the day and let itself back in when it’s ready at mealtimes or when it needs to eliminate.

3 other alternatives to an outdoor litter box:

As discussed outdoor litter boxes are not ideal. So, to help you here are some other alternatives that have been used by other cat owners for you to consider.

01. Cat flap

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The cat flap is a great way to give your outdoor cat the freedom they need and allow them access to your home when they need the litter tray. This allows you to keep the litter tray clean and maintained indoors.

The best ones have security built in to only allow your cat in and other unwanted cats or animals out.

02. Covered Litter box

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A covered litter box is another alternative. It is not necessarily designed for the outdoors, but it will do a better job of keeping it clean outside than a conventional litter box.

03. Outdoor Travel Cat litter box

Click here to see the price, on Amazon #Ad

An outdoor travel cat litter box is another alternative. This is designed as a temporary measure or when you are traveling with your cat. But, it is another option for outdoor usage.

Do you need a litter box for an outdoor cat?

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.

If you have an outdoor cat, you may have questioned if it is even worth your time having a litter box. So, now you know. And, it is also worth having a good litter mat (Click here to see my 3 best cat litter mats to deal with urine spillages).

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

What could restrict your cat from going outside?

Weather Conditions

If they have severe weather conditions sometimes your cat must 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 (what if it ducks when you try to stroke it? click here). 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

A cat in a litter tray.

In this section, I’m going to explain several 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 occasions where you may find that your cat has issues with other stray cats. Or other pets such as your neighbor’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 feces 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 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 that sometimes you may find your cat is actually doing its mess in random places. Such as your next-door neighbor’s garden.

This can cause a lot of headaches and problems for you. And in some cases cause conflict with your neighbor’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 diarrhea 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 feces to understand if there may be a problem.

For example, if her stool is very runny, she could have diarrhea. Once you notice this, you can 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 (does your cat wait for your arrival to use it? click here) 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, 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 then this is ideal because you can continue to maintain this and re-use it for several 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