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

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 December 2018
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Litter tracking and odor are two problems which plague cat owners. Most cat owners experiment with a number of products which tout odorless and non-tracking abilities, and are often disappointed with the performance of these products. There are some steps which can be taken to reduce smells and litter spreading with cats, but nothing will eliminate the problem entirely. A certain amount of mess is simply part of animal guardianship.

The distinctive smell of litter odor is caused primarily by ammonia in cat urine. Many clumping litter products concentrate the ammonia, yielding a very strong and unpleasant smell. The damp areas of highly concentrated ammonia can also be harmful to the cats, who may inhale fumes or injure their paw pads on the caustic ammonia. The use of a cat litter made from pine shavings or recycled paper materials may help to reduce the problem, by allowing the odor to evaporate. You may need to experiment with several types of litter before finding one which reduces 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 which smells good, or at least unobjectionable.


It is extremely important to empty the litter box frequently. In addition to cutting down on unpleasant smells, it will also make the litter box more enjoyable for the cats to use. Cats will scratch more in a dirty litter box, throwing litter around the box area and then tracking it. Some veterinarians also recommend the use of a litter box for each individual cat. Multiple litter boxes will certainly not solve the litter tracking problem, but they may cut down on behavioral problems such as urinating outside of the box or fighting.

Any litter which advertises itself as non-tracking should be viewed with suspicion. As cats jump in and out of a litter box, they will inevitably take litter with them. 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. 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 greatly reduces odor issues.

To really reduce litter tracking, however, a litter pad or stepping ramp is a useful and usually inexpensive tool. Some litter boxes come with a pad or ramp built in, and while they may cost more, the cost is generally worth it. When a ramp is installed properly, the cat must walk on it while exiting the litter box. For cost cutting cat guardians, a homemade ramp built with wood and lined with felt or a similar material works quite well. Litter which has stuck to the paws of the cat will stay on the ramp, keeping your floors clean as long as you keep the ramp clean.

While litter tracking may not be entirely 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.


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Post 8

@turquoise-- You need to clean out the litter better and replace it when it's dirty. If cats can't find a clean smelling area in the litter, they will keep kicking it out like that which leads to tracking.

Post 7

I have three kittens and a huge litter problem. These kittens are kicking out the litter from the litter box like crazy. And some of it gets caught on my socks or shoes and I walk out with them when going in and out of my bathroom.

I would put the box elsewhere, but I'm in a small apartment and this is the best spot for it. What should I do?

I've tried non-tracking cat litter-- doesn't work. I also have a special litter carpet that's supposed to trap the litter and prevent it from being tracked. It sort of works but not entirely.

Post 6

I don't mind if my cat throws a little bit of litter around the litter box while doing her thing. What I hate is if the litter sticks to her paws and falls all around while she's walking around the living room.

I've realized though that this has a lot to do with the type of litter. The really tiny litters that clump are usually the problem. They're so small that they get into the paws. If the litter is composed of larger pieces, like those crystal litters and the ones made from trees, this doesn't happen.

Right now, my cat is using the crystal ones and she hasn't been tracking litter around the house at all.

Post 5

If you want to stop litter tracking look at the Out of Sight Litter Box. It stops litter tracking, keeps dogs out and makes cleaning easy while standing up.

Post 3

Non-scoopable litter tracks less than scoopable litter. More convenience cleaning the litter box or less tracking. Take your pick, can't have both.

Post 2

I just sweep - about five times a day. I look at it this way - having cats forces me to clean. I probably would not be so fastidious without cats.

Post 1

It seems to me if someone could make the scoopable litter fragments larger (and/or round), they wouldn't get wedged between the cat's paw pads. I've got three cats and litter tracking is a pain with hardwood floors.

If it's warm weather, I have the box outside and keep the door ajar. In these freezing cold nights, I brought the box inside: in the shower with a blanket on the floor. I still have tracking issues.

We need someone to manufacture clumpable pellets. It sure would be nice, but probably more expensive, since they would have to be "formed."

I'll just keep sweeping for the time being! --Kyd

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