Is Your Cat’s Litter Box Too Small?

We want you to take a look at your cat’s litter box. Is your cat’s litter box too small? The answer to this question is surprising to most pet owners. In this article, we’re going to delve into the issue of litter box size and figure out if size truly matters.

Is Your Cat's Litter Box Too Small?Pet owners are surprised to find out that, yes, their cat litter box is too small. You might think your cat doesn’t mind the size of their litter tray, but they aren’t happy with the dimensions. While all cats vary, the general rule is a litter box should be at least as long as your cat from nose to tail (extended) and just as wide as your cat is long (tail not extended).

By now you probably think this rule can't be correct as most litter boxes are the same size. It's surprising but accurate! Your cat's current litter box might be a tight squeeze right now but we want to guide you to perfect litter tray for your pet.  In this article, we’ll fill you in on all you need to know about the correct litter box size and issues that can occur if your cat’s litter box is too small.

Does litter box size matter?

Litter box size does matter, especially to your cat! A small litter box may take up less floor space and be more convenient for you. However, it can be inconvenient (and uncomfortable) for your pet.

What size should my litter box be?

A cat litter box should be roughly one and a half bigger in size than your cat, measuring from their nose to the tip of their tale. Your cat should be about to turn around in various locations within the litter box comfortably. Excess space should be available for them to cover their excrement. Cats with health conditions or impairments may require a bigger litter box to accommodate their needs.

If you opt for a covered litter box, take note of the entrance size as well as overall dimensions. In addition to comfortably moving about inside of the litter box, your cat needs to fit through the entrance without squeezing their body in.

If your cat is on the larger side, it may not be practical to have a litter box the size of a bathtub in your living room. For some cats, you may need to consider they need additional space, more than the average litter box allows.

What size is a litter box?

Most commercial litter boxes are 20 inches in length while most domestic cats are around 18-20 inches (nose to base of tail). Considering the recommendations, a 20-inch cat should have a litter box that is roughly 35-inches in length. To say most commercial litters boxes are too small for the average cat is an understatement!

Why do some pet owners have a small litter box?

Many cat owners aren’t aware of their cat’s litter box being too small. Some people assume a litter box is okay to use from the time their cat is born while others are just using what’s in front of their faces at the big-box stores. It’s not your fault smaller litter boxes are readily available and most commonly sold!

How can I tell my cat’s litter box is too small?

Felines express their feelings by dropping subtle (and not so subtle) hints. If your cat is cramped in their litter box space, they might be compelled to find a roomier area to relieve themselves, such as your favorite rug.

Behavioral problems

Felines show behavior issues may appear in various ways. Cats may stop using their litter box and start relieving themselves on your favorite rug. Or your cat might stop covering their feces, quickly jumping out of the litter tray. If you notice a drastic change in their behavior and rule out health issues, it may be a litter box problem.

Your cat's litter box is not just a lavatory for your pet. It’s a place of comfort for your feline friend.  If your cat craves seclusion and is unable to fit in the box easily, this could create stress for your pet. A small, cramped space is not a desirable bathroom for any cat or human - outhouse anyone?

Your cat is no longer a kitten

If your cat uses the same litter box they used as a kitten, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Think of it like this, an adult wouldn’t feel comfortable in the same pants they wore as a child. The same can be said for your best feline friend.

Why should you buy a larger litter box?

Besides the fact your cat deserves a throne fit for a King or Queen, there are additional (and beneficial) reasons to update your cat’s litter box.


If your cat has more space it decreases the likelihood of your pet stepping in waste. Even if you clean their litter box daily, as recommended, if the litter box is too small they’ll be required to use the same spot over and over.


Also, a larger surface area will mean decreased kitty litter on your floors. When your cat covers their excrement in a bigger litter box, and they begin to kick and scratch at the litter it’s less likely they’ll spread it outside of the box.


Your cat’s litter box is not only a place to use the bathroom, but it’s a place they get to call their own. When your kitty is seeking some privacy or seclusion, they might seek out the solace of their litter box. If your cat’s litter box is too small, they may be upset or stressed by the lack of personal space.

Large litter boxes on the market

With so many litter boxes available, it can be daunting trying to determine which is the best for your pet. When choosing a litter box some design elements to keep an eye on are the height of the sides, covered vs. uncovered, and ease of entry/exit.

We did our research, compared sizes, and checked reviews, so you don’t have to. Here’s a round of large litter boxes.

Petmate Corner Open Litter Pan

This corner litter box is perfect if your kitty enjoys digging. The dimensions measure at 26" x 19" x 10 and is designed with high sides and low entry which makes it perfect for older cats. The corner design is ideal for small spaces, and high sides help reduce litter scatter.

Nature's Miracle High-Sided Litter Box

Pet owners are fans of this litter box dimensions (23 x 18.5 x 11 inches) and also its versatility. In addition to its being a durable and easy-to-clean litter box, some owners flipped a clean box upside down and saw their cats use it as a cat house. You may want to purchase two!

So Phresh Jumbo Litter Box

At 24”, this is one of the larger litter boxes on the market. Pet owners love the design, with three high sides and one sloped side to allow for easy entry and exit. Large and jumbo options are available but we and other cat owners recommend the latter.

Petmate Open Litter Pan

This litter box is a whopping 25”. Pet owners love that it’s durable, easy-to-clean, and affordable meaning you can comfortably purchase more than one.

So Phresh Jumbo Enclosed Litter Box

The removable hood, low entrance, and large size (23” long) make this a favorite cat litter box. If your cat has trouble climbing over high sides, this may be the best option for you as many cat owners say the low entry makes this box easily accessible.

Petmate Giant Litter Pan

This highly-recommended litter box has a cat litter storage area of 27” and can hold 40lbs of litter.  This litter tray has high sides, is easy to clean, and has built-in compartments for a scooper and storage of disposal bags. If you have a  large cat like a Maine Coon, we think you’ll love this litter box.

DIY Extra-large litter box

If none of these options are best for you, you do have the choice of making a litter box. Here are a couple of our favorite options.

Purchase a drywall mud pan

Drywall mud pans, like the MacCourt Utility Tub, appeals to many pet owners because of their affordable and durable. A downside of this utility tub is the sides might not be high enough.

Make a covered litter box from a storage bin

If you’ve struggled to find a covered storage bin that meets your needs, this might be the route to try. A caveat for many is they aren’t as easy to clean because of nooks and crannies in the design. Some recommend lining the litter box with a trash bag before filling with kitty litter for easier clean-up.

If you’d like to try this DIY option, you’ll need a large storage container with a lid, such as the Rubbermaid Rough Neck Tote.

  • Draw a semi-circle shape on the side of the storage container, depending on your cat's size you’ll determine how high or low and how large the opening will be.
  • For the next step, it’s important to note that you’ll need to use a sharp knife. Therefore, an adult or adult supervision is required.
  • Carefully cut a hole in the side of the storage container, using the semi-circle shape as a guide.
  • Fill the storage container with cat litter and put on the lid. That’s it!

As always, regardless of the size of your cat’s litter box, it’s essential to keep their litter tray clean. And if you decide to update your cat’s litter box, be sure to make any changes subtle and gradual as sudden change may upset your cat.