Letters to Litterbox Lenny

Lenny, a wise feline who aspires to be like Dr. Phil, specializes in providing support and advice to cats who need guidance regarding sensitive litterbox issues. Below, you’ll find letters from felines in need of a little straight talk about an important issue: the litterbox. 

Litter Location, Location, Location

Dear Lenny,

My friend Socks is moving again. He heard his people talking about location, location, location and thought they meant his litter box. It turns out it had something to do with property values. Socks is hoping they’ll put his box in a better location this time. Any suggestions for Socks’s family as they decide where to keep the litterbox in their new home?

Your pal,


Dear Patch,

I guess location is important to everyone. Do you think Socks’s folks know that finding the right spot for a litter box is just as important as finding the right house?

His family should look for:

A convenient location (No one wants to hike to or hunt for the toilet!)
A safe place with a clear entrance and exit (So Socks can’t be trapped in the box by dogs, kids or other cats.)
A quiet, private area (No cat wants a loud furnace or washing machine kicking on right as you get down to business!)
A large enough space for all your stuff and enough room to spread out a little, too. No one wants to eat in the bathroom, so if separate rooms aren’t an option, the litter box should be at least 6 feet away from the food.


Litterbox Boycott

Dear Lenny,

I just quit using my litter box and wow, are my people flipping out! I hate to upset them, but I am absolutely not going in there on the days they don’t scoop—which  is every other day lately! Yuck! I mean, my fur-brother, can you imagine what my gorgeous long hair smells like when it picks up dirty litter?



Dear Cher,

I got you, babe! We all agree that a clean box is the only way to go.  

My people have to get dressed and go outside three times a day in all kinds of weather with the dog. But to meet my needs, they can stay inside and scoop in their PJs! They should appreciate that so much that scooping should feel like a joy!

We all know that there is nothing glamorous about stepping in litter, smelling it or wearing it—and litterboxes are easy to keep clean with daily scoops and a weekly dumping and scubbing. I hear that people don’t enjoy using dirty gas station bathrooms on trips, so they should be able to relate! Do what you have to do, fur-sister.



One Size Does Not Fit All

Dear Lenny,

What size box is best for cats? When I was young and went by Bootsie, my little litter box fit just right. I’m grown up now and go by Boots, but my litter box is still kitten-sized!

Big Boots

Dear Boots,

The answer, big fella, is to customize. There is no single “right” box. Little cats need little boxes, while Big Boots-kind-of-guys need big boxes. 

All cats need to be able to stand at full height and turn around in the box. Older cats with stiff joints need low sides and some cats need high sides to contain it all. Get yourself down to the Home & Litterbox show and try out some different models!



A Proper Burial

Dear Lenny,

What kind of litter you use in your litter box? I just moved inside from the outdoors, and while I love being safe and warm and pampered, I miss covering my business with nice soft dirt. I’ve never gone in gravel before and it seems there should be something that feels better. It smells kind of odd, too. Please help!

Tenderfoot Tigger

Dear Tigger,

Me-ouch! My research (I’ve talked to a lot of cats!) shows that if given a choice, cats don’t pick pellets or coarse, hard substrates (that’s the scientific name for what goes in the box first). We do best on bits of clay and even better on sand-like softer stuff, like clumping or scoopable litter. This is especially true if someone didn’t know better and had us declawed!

As for the odor—it’s called perfume, and it’s designed to please our humans, not us. If we had a choice, litterboxes would be “au naturel.”  

Maybe if you kick all that hard stuff out of the box they’ll fill it with something nicer. Welcome in from the wild, Tigger!



Long Lines at the Litterbox

Dear Lenny,

Why is it always we girls who have to wait in long lines at the restroom? Couldn’t they put in a few more boxes?

Crossing my legs and hoping,


Dear Callie,

Even though things can be less complicated for us guys, I’ve had to wait a few times myself, and you sure have the right idea. There is nothing worse than waking up from a great nap and racing to the nearest box only to find it occupied or unsavory. There should always be at least one box for each cat in the house and an extra in case of an emergency!

Paws, Lenny

Need more help? Submit your cat behavior-related question to our Behavior Team online at www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org. (Cats, you may want to get a human to help.)

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