Best Cat Litter Mats and How to Reduce Litter Tracking
Let’s face it: no matter how many different types and brands of cat litter you try out, tracking some litter granules out of the litter box is a common theme. We all know the feeling of walking near the litter box and hearing the crunching sounds of litter being stepped on. There are a wide range of factors that can affect if the tracking you experience is a minor inconvenience or a huge headache.
The threshold of what is acceptable by someone is also going to vary depending on the person. For a cat owner who is a bit more lax on cleanup having a few stray granules sitting near the litter box might not be a big deal but for the neat freaks of the world seeing a single piece of litter find its way out of its home can be a recipe for nightmares!
Variables that Affect Cat Litter Tracking
There can are quite a few variable at play that can affect just how much litter is tracked out of a box. A few primary variables include:
How many cats are using the litter box
How tall are the walls are on the litter box
What type of litter is being used
How much does your cat(s) mix up the litter when using it
How long is the hair on your cat(s)
How big are your cat(s)
Ways to Help Minimize Cat Litter Tracking
The first step to approaching litter tracking is figuring out your threshold. If you are someone who is fine with dealing with some occasional litter then you might not find the need to change anything. For someone who demands a more pristine area around the litter box, they might consider tweaking some things to see if they improve.
Some examples of this include:
Try swapping to a different type of litter. There are litters that are designed to be heavier or have fewer ridges that can “catch” cat hair. This can reduce the amount of litter that is tracked out of the box.
Purchase multiple litter boxes if you have high-traffic litter boxes. If multiple cats are using a single litter box, consider buying another to help lessen the load. Less traffic might mean less kicking around of litter.
Purchase a higher-walled litter box. Some cats might be bothered by having to step up higher to access the litter, but if that isn’t an issue higher walls could help block more of the litter from shooting out when the cat is moving the granules around.
Try moving the litter box to a more remote location. Some cats may be bothered if they are forced to do their private business in exposed or high traffic areas of the house. This can cause them to be more agitated when using the litter box and can cause them to kick up more of the granules.
Try going with an automatic litter box. A lot of the moving that a cat does in a litter box is it attempting to cover up its waste. An automatic litter box would do this for them and it might stop them from feeling that they have the need to stir around the litter themselves.
Even with these and other implementations, litter tracking is simply a part of cat ownership that you will likely have to learn to accept. That is why we recommend using a litter mat.
What is a Litter Mat?
A litter mat is pretty straightforward. It is simply a piece of rubber, PVC, or other material that you place under the litter box that is designed to catch most of the litter that is tracked out of the box. Since they are typically so simple in design, they are usually quite affordable, even for the “premium” mats. The mat can then be easily picked up and the litter discarded in the trash or it can be vacuumed. There are two primary types of litter mats: PVC and rubber.
PVC Litter Mats
Pros: Cheaper, come in many nice carpet colors and unique designs
Cons: Require more maintenance, can attract odors more easily
PVC Litter Mats are typically made of a dense PVC-based mesh that captures the litter while still being comfortable for the cat to walk on. The mesh is dense so that the litter will essentially be “wedged” into it which allows for easy vacuuming or you can also pick up the entire mat and shake it into a trash can to remove the captured litter granules.
PVC Litter Mats also usually will have to be maintained more closely than rubber, but they also are generally cheaper. In addition, they come in a wide variety of carpet-matching colors so they are much easier to make “blend in” and look presentable. However, they are prone to becoming stained and are more susceptible to water damage, which can also allow cat waste smells to linger over time.
Rubber Litter Mats
Pros: Less maintenance, do a better job of locking in cat odors
Cons: Can be quite expensive, many are ugly
Rubber litter mats can actually be made of a variety of rubber-like compounds. They are different than PVC in how they capture the litter. Many will be double-layered, with the top layer containing many large holes that allow for the litter granules to fall through and the bottom layer being a solid piece of material that catches the litter. There will also sometimes be an absorbent pad that is placed in between the two layers that help to capture any odor-causing moisture that is on the granules.
Rubber litter mats will usually be able to go longer periods of time in between having to be emptied or vacuumed, but they can be quite pricey. Also, many come in a black or other dark colors which might look a little tacky sitting on top of carpet or wood. However, you don’t have to worry about ugly stains popping up and they do a much better job of locking in cat waste odors which make them good for busier litter boxes or cats that are more prone to tracking.
The Best Cat Litter Mats
Now that we have discussed litter tracking, litter mats, and the pros and cons of each type, we want to give a few of our top choices for litter mats.
This is one of the top-selling litter mats on the market. It has a unique combination approach where it incorporates a top woven layer of PVC with a bottom rubber layer that results in a surface that is very comfortable for the cat to walk on. The mesh is also designed to capture and retain the litter granules until they can easily be vacuumed up. It is oversized so that it should have no problem fitting even the largest litter boxes over it.
This mat is another great seller the tweaks it’s approach from the Kittycentric product by going with a thick PVC layer as opposed to rubber. The PVC is designed in a way that it should still be gentle on cat paws while the tight web design will lock in and hold on to the litter granules until they can be disposed of via vacuuming or shaking the mat over the trash.
This mat goes with the double layer approach, with the top layer consisting of holes that allow the granules to go through and the bottom layer being solid so that they have a place to rest. This allows for easy removal of the litter when necessary. The optional use of absorbent pads also means that all the odor-causing moisture that can stick to the litter granules is soaked up, stopping it from producing fouls smells. In addition, the material used is more resilient than woven PVC and truly waterproof and also more stain proof.