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How can I Keep my Cats from Tracking Litter Around the House?

Cat Care
8 minutes read
Tips and tricks for how to keep your floors and furniture clean while owning cats who may track litter around your house.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

Are you sick and tired of running into your cat's litter throughout the house?

It's very frustrating when you move around your house and step on cat litter every few steps. Cat owners will tell you that dealing with litter tracking is a massive headache. It feels like no matter where you put the litter box, somehow you find litter tracked everywhere around your home.

Litter tracking and odor are two problems that plague cat owners. Most cat owners experiment with several products which tout odorless and non-tracking abilities and are often disappointed with the performance of these products. Nothing will eliminate the problem, as a certain amount of mess is simply part of animal guardianship. However, there are steps to reduce smells and litter tracking with cats.

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how to keep cats from tracking litter around

What is Litter Tracking?

Litter tracking is the act of your cat leaving litter around your house. It typically occurs because of your cat's particular habits and the type of litter you use. Tracking happens when bits of litter stick on your kitty's paws and fur after they use the litter box. We've also found that hairier cats tend to track more litter than their short-haired and bald counterparts. Moreover, some cats also scratch and fling litter everywhere they use the box. Afterward, they walk through the mess and bring it to different parts of your home.

You'll undoubtedly come across multiple products that tout non-tracking and odorless abilities. Then again, is there litter that doesn't track? Can you entirely keep cat litter off the floor? Is there truly a no-mess litter box? 

You can take some steps to reduce smells and litter spreading with cats, but nothing will eliminate the problem entirely. Pettable has some excellent tips to keep your little furry babies from tracking litter around the house. 

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How to Keep your Cats from Tracking Litter

It's undoubtedly true that some litter does track more than others, but all litter tracks to some degree. 

Any litter which advertises itself as non-tracking should be viewed with suspicion. As cats jump in and out of a litter box, they inevitably take litter. No miracle formula will fix the problem, despite the best wishes of pet product manufacturers. The best angle of attack is to address the litter box itself.

Experiment with Different Types of Litter Boxes

You may need to experiment with multiple types of litter before you find one that works for you and your cat. Furthermore, you'll find out that your cat also has a say in the litter type used. Some kitties prefer non-clumping pellet-style litter, while others will only use unscented clumping litter.

Some cats will take time to acclimate to the new litter, while others will reject it altogether. You can make changes to reduce litter tracking but end up upsetting your kitty to the extent they stop using the litter box. Consider a solution that works best for both you and your cat. 

Continuously Clean your Litter Boxes

The distinctive smell of litter odor is caused primarily by ammonia in cat urine. Many clumping litter products concentrate the ammonia, yielding a powerful and unpleasant smell. The highly concentrated ammonia damp areas can also harm the cats, who may inhale fumes or injure their paw pads on the caustic ammonia.

Nobody wants to use a dirty space when doing their business, and neither does your cat. So, ensuring that all the cat litter boxes in your house are always clean is vital.

Regular litter box cleaning reduces unpleasant smells and encourages your cat to use the box. It is essential to empty the litter box frequently. In addition to cutting down on unpleasant odors, it will also make the litter box more enjoyable for the cats.

Cats will scratch more in a dirty litter box, throwing litter around the box area and then tracking it. Kitties enjoy using a clean litter box and will rarely fling around litter in a neat box. If you have multiple cats, we recommend having separate litter boxes for each one.

Although multiple litter boxes might not cut down litter tracking, it will curb any behavioral problems. Cats fight when they share one box and sometimes even opt to 'go' outside the litter box.

Using cat litter made from pine shavings or recycled paper materials may help reduce the problem by allowing the odor to evaporate. You may need to experiment with several types of litter before finding one which minimizes the odor problem. If you are concerned about litter being tracked throughout the house, the brand of litter you use may not make a difference, so focus on finding litter that smells good or at least unobjectionable.

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Try a Covered Litter Box

For some cats, kicking and scraping after going potty is an instinct to cover up their deeds. Others like to 'dig to China' before getting to their business. The best angle of attack is to address the litter box itself.

A covered litter box is an excellent solution because cats will not be able to toss litter out of it. A covered litter box also significantly reduces odor issues.

A covered litter box can help significantly reduce the amount of tracked litter. A covered box will contain the mess if your cat is a litter flicker. Most covered litter boxes also have a flap that minimizes tracking when your cat goes in and out of the litter box. A covered litter box can also eliminate the unpleasant sight of seeing your cat's waste when you walk by it, depending on where your litter box is located.

Ensure that you choose a covered litter box that is big enough to accommodate your cat comfortably. Covered litter boxes also considerably reduce odor issues while providing your cat with some privacy – something that many cats prefer when doing their business.

Contain Tracking with Litter Mats

However, a litter pad or stepping ramp is a useful and usually inexpensive tool to reduce litter tracking. Some litter boxes come with a pad or ramp built in, and while they may cost more, the cost is generally worth it.

Cat guardians will tell you that litter mats are an effective and inexpensive way to catch litter trapped on your kitty's paws as they exit the litter box. You can choose from a wide variety that ranges from rubber mats with grooves to sisal rugs and everything in between.

Ensure that you position the mat on the path your kitty tends to use when leaving the litter box.

Litter rugs are also usually very easy to clean; shake them over a wastebasket or a quick vacuum, and it's as good as new. 

Use a Stepping Ramp

Another effective way is to have a stepping ramp leading to the entry of the litter box. When appropriately installed, cats must walk on the ramp while going to and exiting the litter box. Litter stuck on your cat's paws will stay on the ramp and off your floors as long as the ramp is kept clean.

Ramps are affordable and readily available at local pet stores or convenience stores. For cost-cutting cat guardians, a homemade ramp built with wood and lined with felt or similar material works quite well.

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How to Keep Litter From Spreading? Daily Clean-Up Around the House

The more you leave a mess unattended, the worse it gets. Although it might sound cliché, regular sweeping or vacuuming can help reduce litter tracking issues. Don't go several days without cleaning up your household if you're a cat guardian. As you clean your litter box, ensure that you sweep or vacuum the area.

Some cat owners also recommend a non-electric roller vacuum to help reduce the headache of constant cleanup. You'll be surprised by the difference regular sweeping or vacuuming makes in minimizing litter tracking. The longer you leave litter on the floor, the more it gets tracked by your cat and even human feet. 

Final Thoughts

While litter tracking may not be eliminated, these measures may help to address the problem. Keeping floors swept and vacuumed will also help to cut down on particulate material tracked around the house, including litter.

With the stresses of daily life, a furry bundle of joy waiting for you at home at the end of the day makes it all worth it. The COVID-19 pandemic taught the entire world how stressful life could be. People with emotional support animals seemed better equipped to tackle life's stresses during the pandemic. With their cute faces, cuddly demeanor, and soft purrs, who wouldn't want an ESA cat after a nerve-wracking day?

Having a cat also comes with some baggage apart from all the cuteness and cuddliness. In our experience, we have realized that eliminating the problem is almost impossible since with animals comes the responsibility of keeping a clean home and a clean, pet-friendly area. 

While litter tracking may not be eliminated, combining these measures may help address the problem. Keeping floors swept and vacuumed will also help to cut down on particulate material tracked around the house, including litter.

Are you looking for an ESA letter to support your cat as an emotional support animal? Get in touch with Pettable today, and let's help you out. 

You can also find more information and other helpful resources on pet care on Pettable, with details on how to get ESA or PSD letters.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.