Always use Boxes With No Hood
It is normal that people want to use a hooded litter box because it does provide a few benefits. Hooded litter boxes can prevent litter scatter and keep dogs out of litter. The most common reason that people have a hooded litter box is because they want to avoid seeing or smelling litter. But a hooded litter box is less than ideal from the view of a cat who has to use it everyday.
Click here to view the top 15 reasons for litter box avoidance and here if you want to read my guide on fixing litter box avoidance. I also do behavioral consultations if you want to contact me by clicking here.
There are five big reasons not to use a hooded litter box that I like to talk about with clients. Using a hooded litter box can spell disaster if used with multiple cats or implemented into the wrong type of household.
1. Hard to Breath For Some Cat Breeds
Hooded litter boxes increase and decrease odor at the same time but it causes an issue by doing so. The smell inside of the litter box is increased, the smell outside of the box is decreased.
A hooded litter box traps odor in the box and keeps it form spreading outside of the box. The downside to this is that the cat will be receiving the worst part of the smell which can dissuade the cat from using the box. The smell becomes even more concentrated over time because of the urine drying slowly. Smell issues can usually be alleviated by scooping each litter box twice per day.
Dust will form once your cat kicks the cat litter and it has contact with the back of the litter box. Dust can make it hard to breath for cats, especially cats that are brachycephalic such as Persians and Himalayans.
2. Stressful For Most Cats
Hooded litter boxes only have one entrance and one exit which can put your cat into a compromising position. I see a lot of litter box avoidance in cats when there is dogs or children that live inside of the same household.
Even though the dog or children might not scare the cat while he inside of the box or try to enter it while the cat is using the box, he may expect or consider this a possibility. The cat cannot see outside of the one entrance so he can never be for certain what lays outside of the four walled box. For all he knows a dog or child could be waiting for him just outside the box.
The hooded litter box also provides a problem where there is more than one cat. If a cat tries to enter the box while another cat is using it, this can cause conflict between the two cats and result in mistrust of the box.
3. Out of Sight And Out of Mind
It is near impossible to monitor litter box habits if your litter box is hooded. It is important to monitor how your cat uses the litter box on a daily basis. This includes volume, color, and if the cat is urinating without trouble. Humans usually purchase these litter boxes to provide privacy for the cat. However, cats would rather have the litter box be open and not hooded for maximum security.
Cats love to eliminate in wide, open spaces. Eliminating in an open area allows them to monitor their entire turf so that they can feel secure. Sleeping and litter box usage is the two times that a cat feels vulnerable.
No cat wants to be taken by surprise and scared while going to the litter box. A litter box only supplies one entrance and exit so it is far from making a cat feel secure.
This is one reason that beds are often used by the cat if the boxes are hooded. Beds provide 4 sides to escape from and a great view of any potential predators or nuisances. It is not so hard to see why cats would prefer a bed over a hooded litter box once their behavioral needs are considered.
Straining, blood in the urine, less or more urine being produced, or painful urination should be immediately brought to a veterinarian. Urinary tract infections, urinary tract blockage or idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) could be life threatening if not addressed.
4. More Unnecessary Work
Having a hooded litter box means that you will need to remove the hood every time that you need to scoop. Going by the standard of scooping two times a day and having one litter box pet cat plus one, this is a lot of extra work that could be avoided.
The cat will still likely kick litter out of the box or not use it routinely because most hooded boxes are not of adequate size for most cats. Litter boxes should be about 1.5 times the size of your biggest cat. You should also have one litter box per cat plus one and have each litter box separated by at least 12 feet.
5. Longer Time for Urine To Dry
A hooded litter box will prevent urine from drying quickly which can cause a disturbance for the pet and owner. Damp spots remaining the litter box from poor drying time may also be irritating to other cats that use the box. The additional smell from the build up of wet urine spots can dissuade your cat from using the box.