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You might be asking yourself this question if you’ve been using an uncovered litter tray and are experiencing some stubborn odor issues. Or, you are about to become a cat parent and want to choose the best kind of litter box out there.
Whatever the reason, this is a legitimate thing to ponder because it will shape your cat’s litter experience and become a permanent fixture in your living space.
So, to give you a short answer: you should go for it.
There is nothing wrong with trying a hooded litter box to see if it suits you and your cat. Hooded litter boxes are very convenient for your home, and your cat is not likely to hate it unless you get a tiny one and keep it dirty.
With that being said, every product has its pros and cons.
Below, I will delve into the specifics of using a hooded litter box. We’ll be going over issues of practicality for you and comfort for your cat, as well as reviewing some different features in a variety of hooded cat litter boxes in the market.
Will My Cat Like Using a Hooded Cat Litter Box?
Here are some Q&As about how a hooded litter box might affect your cat’s comfort and whether or not she will be happy using it.
Are Hooded Litter Boxes Comfortable for Cats?
Yes, if you pay attention to a few things:
If you choose a large and tall enough box for your cat, there should be no problem in terms of comfort when she’s in there. Even if you have a smaller-sized cat, I recommend you to choose a larger box. Remember, cats usually like enclosed spaces, so your cat is not likely to have a problem being inside a hooded litter box.
The box should also have a large entrance so that your cat can get in and out of it easily. Additionally, its door shouldn’t be too heavy or difficult to get through. In other words, the box should be easy to access.
Perhaps the most important potential comfort issue of a hooded box is odor build-up if it is not kept clean. Concentrated odor inside the hood can make your cat uncomfortable (not to mention sick), so make sure you clean it daily. Otherwise, no problem!
Are There Any Health Concerns When Using a Hooded Cat Litter Box?
When it comes to health concerns, what matters is your choice of litter and how clean you keep the litter box.
As long as you clean it daily and use a quality litter that is hypo-allergenic and fragrance-free, your cat is safe!
Is It Easy for a Cat to Switch From an Open Litter Tray to a Hooded One?
Switching your cat’s litter box from an open to a covered one should be easy if you have the correct approach.
Just like any other object you introduce to your cat for the first time (like a harness or a carrier), you need to familiarize your cat with the object and encourage positive engagement with it.
The switching process is similar to litter training your cat for the very first time.
If you plan on keeping the new litter box in the same place as the old one, you can remove the old one right away. If you are thinking about changing the location of the litter box, keep the original one in place for a couple of days – but make sure that your cat is aware of the existence and location of the new one. Keep the new one very clean and attractive for your cat so that she grows to prefer it over the old one.
Fill it with her usual litter and lure your cat towards the new tray with the aid of toys and treats. If she doesn’t engage with the litter box, try taking the hood off and leaving it uncovered until your cat starts entering the box. Once your cat starts using the new litter box, you can start putting the hood on the litter tray.
Cats hate change but they are also quick to learn things. Give this process some time and be patient. If it doesn’t work at all, you can switch back to her usual open tray. Just make sure that you don’t constantly switch back and forth between litter boxes as your cat can become disoriented.
Do Cats Care if Their Litter Box is Covered or Uncovered?
In all honesty, the choice of litter and cleanliness is way more important for your cat than whether or not the litter box is covered.
Quite a few sources claim that cats should use an open litter tray because it allows them to monitor their surroundings and feel safe in the vulnerable act of doing their business. It is true that in nature, cats usually prefer partly secluded but essentially open places when eliminating.
For indoor cats, this monitoring instinct doesn’t serve any practical service. Since keeping an eye out for possible danger when using the litter box is no longer relevant in their domesticized living situations, there is no problem in using a hooded litter box in terms of their safety and well-being.
A study from 2013 done by Ross University School of Medicine looked at whether or not cats have a preference between covered and uncovered litter boxes. The experiment involved 28 cats that were given a choice between covered and uncovered boxes, which were all kept equally clean. 20 of the cats showed no preference between the two, while the remaining 8 were evenly split: 4 chose to use a covered box and 4 chose an uncovered box.
The findings of the study suggest that most cats do not care what kind of a litter box they use unless it’s clean and accessible. A small number of cats had a preference, but one type of box didn’t trump over the other as a favorite.
Although it seems that most cats don’t care about this issue, your cat may still have a preference between a hooded litter box and an open one. So, giving her a chance to try both and observing whether or not she likes one over the other is a smart thing to do.
Does Privacy in the Litter Box Matter?
This is a somewhat controversial topic.
While it is true that cats like to have privacy while eliminating, they also like to keep an eye on everything. This is an instinctual behavior geared towards keeping themselves safe and in control of their environment.
Complete blockage of their sight for the sake of giving them privacy is unnecessary. Rather than being hidden, cats care more about having peace and solitude when in their litter box.
So, the extent of privacy that hooded litter boxes offer is not something that cats necessarily crave. However, this does not mean that they can’t or shouldn’t use hooded litter boxes. Cats are more than fine with enclosed spaces, so they will not have any difficulty using the hooded box unless it’s too small for them.
All in all, privacy (in the form of being completely hidden from sight) should not be a factor in deciding to choose between a covered and uncovered litter box.
Are Hooded Cat Litter Boxes Practical for Me?
As a cat parent, the type of litter box you choose for your cat also affects you.
After all, you are the one responsible for its maintenance and it becomes a part of your living space.
So, how practical is it to use a hooded litter box instead of an open litter tray?
Cleaning a Hooded Litter Box
It is a fact that cleaning an open litter tray is an easier task that takes less time.
Especially if your hooded box has a complicated lock system or is inside a litter box furniture, cleaning may become more of a hassle.
There are hooded litter boxes that make cleaning easier by having large openings that allow you to scoop without taking their hood off completely. There are also self-cleaning litter boxes that can scoop the litter with different mechanisms. You’ll probably do a better job of scooping manually, but this feature can be useful on days that you don’t have time or energy to clean the litter box.
It is a myth that you need to clean hooded litter boxes more often than open ones. Yes, urine smell can build up inside more easily than an open tray, but you need to clean both types of boxes daily anyway. Remember the aforementioned Ross University study findings: When cleaned at the same amount and frequency, cats didn’t have a preference between covered or uncovered boxes. So, whatever type of box you have, clean it daily and you’ll be fine.
Odor and Mess Control
It seems that the biggest advantage of a hooded litter box is that it greatly reduces the spread of unpleasant odors from used litter.
The hood alone physically blocks the majority of the smell from diffusing into the surrounding space.
Many hooded litter boxes also come equipped with charcoal/carbon filter pads in their air vents to make their odor control even more efficient. These filters are also sold separately so you can choose to place them under the air vents of hooded boxes that don’t come with carbon filters.
These are all to the benefit of those of us that are outside the litter box, but what about our cats?
The hood of the litter box traps the odor inside, which will be unbearable for your cat if you do not keep it clean. Cats can suffer from a high concentration of their urine smell and refuse to use the litter box if it becomes too suffocating for them.
Hooded litter boxes keep urine-soaked litter moist for a longer period because they are closed off. Less airflow causes the litter to dry slower, which can result in extra odor inside the box.
This box claims to dehydrate the used litter with its custom litter pellets and pass the moisture through its grated base to an absorbant “cat pad” located at the sole of the tray.
To me, it seems like too much stuff to deal with because it comes with a lot of custom stuff, but it may be worth a try.
So, on the one hand, hooded litter boxes are very efficient in blocking unpleasant odors coming from the litter, but, on the other hand, they can make the air inside the litter box worse if you slack off from your regular cleaning. The solution is to keep the litter box very clean at all times so that both you and your cat can live odor-free.
In terms of litter mess, the hood of a litter box doesn’t help in reducing the litter that trails from your cat’s paws. In that regard, it is essentially the same as an open tray. However, what the hood is useful for is to stop litter from scattering out of the box when your cat forages it while she is inside the box.
Pros and Cons of Hooded Cat Litter Boxes
Here’s a list of pros and cons so that you can have an easier time deciding whether or not to get a hooded litter box.
Hooded Cat Litter Box: Pros
- They have effective odor control so that your house will not smell of cat pee.
- They are aesthetically more pleasing because they reduce the litter mess around them and conceal your cat’s feces. There are some lovely designs and also litter box furniture options too. You can place the hooded box more freely around your house without the need to hide it.
- It keeps other pets and children away from the litter. If you have other animals or young children in your house, a hooded litter box will block easy access to your cat’s litter and eliminate mess and unhygienic situations.
- Trick pro: Most hooded boxes can become an open tray if need be. Most products have removable hoods for easy cleaning purposes. So when you buy a hooded litter box, you can remove the hood if you are dissatisfied.
Hooded Cat Litter Box: Cons
- Urine smell can build up inside unless you clean it daily.
- Hooded litter boxes take more time to clean You need to unlock the hood, remove it, clean the litter, and put it back on.
- Multiple cat use of a hooded litter box can be more difficult when compared to an open litter tray. There may be territorial issues about the entrance.
Different Features in Hooded Cat Litter Boxes
Once you’ve decided to purchase a hooded litter box, you are not yet done!
When it comes to hooded litter boxes, there are myriads of great options to choose from. Fortunately, I’ve gathered below some essential factors to consider so that you can choose a product that suits you and your cat.
The Entrance of the Litter Box
One of the most important things you should pay attention to when purchasing a hooded litter box is its entrance. Here are two fundamental questions that you should be asking:
- Does it have a door and if it does, is it easy to push in and out? (Many hooded boxes have unfixed doors that are strapped on to hooks, so you may choose to remove the door if necessary.)
- Is the doorway large enough for my cat?
You can also pay attention to other non-essential features that can make the litter box more practical for your use, such as these:
- If the door extends over the top and provides a large opening like this one, it is easier to clean daily. Instead of removing the whole hood, you can just lift the door and reach in easily to scoop and add more litter. This box has an even larger opening at its top made possible with a creative design.
- Some hooded boxes like this one have grates at their entryway that help get rid of excess litter stuck on your cat’s paws. The grate is concealed inside the hood and acts like a doorstep for your cat.
Top Entry Cat Litter Boxes
A top entry litter box is an alternative type of hooded litter box. It is essentially a large, tall basket with a top lid that has a hole big enough for your cat to go through. The way your cat uses it is to climb in and out through the opening on its roof.
The main selling point of top entry boxes is that they eliminate the scattering and trail of litter from the box.
First of all, because they are completely closed off around the sides, there can be no litter escape no matter how vigorously your cat scatters it. Secondly, since your cat climbs out through its top, it’s very hard for litter to trail from her paws.
The biggest problem with a top entry litter box is that it may not be easy for every cat to use. Cats with mobility issues such as geriatric, over-weight, or arthritic cats may have a hard time climbing in and out of the top entry. It may also be a bit difficult to get your cat to switch to this kind of litter box from a conventional one because climbing in through a hole to pee will come less naturally to her.
Otherwise, it doesn’t necessarily harm or discomfort your cat in any way and could be a great solution to your litter scatter problems… no harm in trying!
The Hood of the Litter Box
There are many different types of designs for hooded boxes to choose from. Some hoods are round, some are angular, some are clear plastic while others are opaque, and so on. To make your selection easier, here are the essentials you should look for:
- The hood should have air vents to facilitate airflow. Ideally, there should be slots for carbon filter insertion.
- The hood should have secure locks that are practical to release and lock. This is important because you will be removing the hood often to clean and scoop.
- There should be a carrying handle because you may need to carry it over to another location.
You may want to check out some optional features that can come in handy for you or benefit your cat:
Transparent and Semi-transparent Hooded Litter Boxes
As I’ve mentioned earlier, hooded litter boxes block your kitty’s sight unnecessarily. If you want your cat to be able to monitor her surroundings from inside her litter box, you can try a clear hooded litter box like this one.
Semi-hooded Litter Boxes
These types of boxes are essentially open trays with tall rims around them. They have an open roof so there is no odor control but they are almost as effective as hooded boxes in preventing litter scattering. Here’s one that has a semi-clear rim and one that has a stainless steel tray with an opaque plastic rim.
Split-hooded Litter Boxes
Some litter boxes have a large split hood that you can use for easy access inside without removing the whole cover, such as this one.
Some boxes like this one have a system that allows the front half of the hood to slide back over the other half. This way, it takes way less space to handle the scooping process.
Self-cleaning Hooded Litter Boxes
You may be as surprised as I was to find out that there are self-cleaning litter boxes!
One intriguing product is this one with a manually operated mechanism that filters clumps when you tilt it sideways and then put it back upright. It saves you some time and keeps you from dealing with the dirty litter.
Here’s another option for a manually operated self-cleaning hooded litter box. This one has a lever you can pull to sift through the litter and filter the waste. However, these systems may not be as efficient as meticulous scooping done by you. Even if you purchase such a product, make sure you do some actual cleaning regularly and don’t leave it all up to the litter box.
This one is an even smarter box that has an automated rake that moves back and forth inside the litter to filter it. This kind of automated system can be very useful if you leave your cat alone for a couple of days and no one can clean her litter during that time. It will keep the litter clean enough to keep your cat happy during your absence. The product claims that you don’t have to clean it for weeks, but I would advise against it.
These self-cleaning litter boxes can be useful if you don’t want to scoop litter every day. However, you shouldn’t depend too much on their cleaning skills. Clean the litter yourself once every couple of days to save your cat from any discomfort.
Cat Litter Box Furniture
Litter box furniture is something that essentially conceals a standard litter tray to utilize it as a decorative and/or practical piece of furniture. It can come in the form of a coffee table, a dresser with drawers, or even a flower pot!
The concealing furniture acts a hood over the open litter tray and therefore affects your cat’s littering experience. That is why you should consider these factors before choosing one:
- Does it have some kind of airflow or an opening other than the entrance, like an air vent? Is it going to be clammy in there?
- Does it have an easily accessible entry?
- Is it appropriately sized for your cat?
- Will its placement be determined by what kind of furniture it is? If so, will that placement be suitable for your cat?
- What is the material of the furniture? Will it cause any health or comfort issues?
The most important thing is to resist getting lured by the decorative aspects of the furniture and disregard your kitty’s comfort. Make sure to eliminate options that will not be suitable for your cat and then choose from the remaining ones.
Hooded Cat Litter Boxes for Multi-cat Use
Here’s a question that may be on your mind if you have more than one cat living with you:
Can multiple cats share a hooded litterbox? The answer to this question depends on your cats and the convenience of the hooded box you choose.
Odor control becomes especially crucial when multiple cats are living in one house. This is why hooded litter boxes can become an attractive option for multiple cat parents. If you do not have enough space in your house to have multiple litter boxes, you might be wondering if your cats can share a hooded box.
First of all, I should make it clear that pet health experts assert that cats should have separate litter boxes. As a matter of fact, the rule of thumb is for the number of litter boxes in your house to be equal to the number of cats you have, plus one. This is because cats like to have their space and can get stressed out by other cats using the same litter box.
- Do your cats currently share an open litter box? If yes, it will be easy for them to switch to sharing a hooded one because they will already be used to each others’ littering habits, smells, and the act of sharing in general. If not, then it might be more difficult to have them share a hooded box right off the bat. You can start by having them share an open litter tray before moving on to a hooded one.
- Is one or both of your cats excessively assertive? If you feel like one might bully the other, having them share a box will not be a smart idea. One cat may monopolize the litter box and block access to it. With hooded boxes, this is even easier to do because there is a limited entryway. Therefore, analyze your cats’ temperaments and the dynamics of their relationship before attempting to switch to a shared system.
If everything looks good, all you need to do is to acquire a convenient hooded box that your cats can share comfortably.
The most important thing is to choose a extra large litter box. You might be wondering why the size of it matters as long as it can accommodate each cat individually. Yes, your cats will most likely not use the litter box simultaneously. However, a wider box will allow for more litter and it will take longer to become soiled.
If you are shopping online, make sure you double-check the measurements and descriptions on the product page. Most products will tell you if they are suitable for multiple cat use or if they are convenient for smaller sized cats.
Here are three hooded litter boxes that are specifically marketed towards larger cats and for multi-cat use:
- Petmate Retracting Litter Pan, Extra Large
- Catit Jumbo Hooded Cat Litter Pan
- Petphabet Jumbo Hooded Cat Litter Box, Holds Up to Two Small Cats Simultaneously, Extra Large
It is also important for a shared hooded box to have sufficient airflow. This can be possible by air vents and a tall hood, which will make space inside feel less clammy and reduce odor build-up.
You also play a huge role in making sure your cats can share the box peacefully by keeping it well-maintained. A shared litter box requires frequent cleaning, ideally 2-3 times a day.
On an end note, I would like to point out that in all cases, the bigger the litter box, the better. Even if you only have one cat, having a large litter box is important because it is a lot more comfortable for her and it stays cleaner for a longer period.
In my opinion, a hooded litter box benefits you a lot more than it benefits your cat.
However, it is not uncomfortable for your cat and doesn’t harm her in any way. Most cats are impartial towards a litter box being covered or uncovered, as long as the boxes are well-maintained. In other words, cats don’t seem to care!
So, there is no problem with switching to a hooded litter box for the sake of visual and olfactory aesthetics in your home. As long as you purchase a size-appropriate litter box and keep it clean and accessible, your cat will most likely get used to it very easily and experience no hardships whatsoever.
I am always a supporter of trying things out to see what works best. Most likely, your cat will not care about the fact that her litter tray has a hood, but maybe she is in the minority group of cats that prefers one type of litter box over the other. You cannot know this unless you try.
Remember, if the hooded litter box doesn’t work for your cat, you can always switch back to an open litter tray.