Hooded litter trays are a super convenient way to help keep your house free of a bunch of stray litter. And cats usually seem to appreciate the privacy, too.
But when can you start using a hooded litter tray for your cat? Can kittens use hooded litter trays?
Can Kittens Use Hooded Litter Trays?
Kittens shouldn’t use hooded litter trays. During the early weeks, when kittens are learning to use the litter box by mimicking the mother cat and siblings, a hooded tray can prevent them from seeing and learning what to do, and the box itself has a bigger rim that they can’t usually step over.
Hooded litter trays can be great for older kittens and cats to prevent messes, provide privacy and limit smells that emit from the litter box but shouldn’t be used early in the kittens’ life.
It is best at this tender age to provide a litter tray with a low wall for them to step over since kittens are still physically small.
Litter training is an effortless process as it is instinctual for cats and kittens once they are shown where to go.
However, providing the right environment for your kittens is crucial to not only teaching them where to go but having them use that space.
Hooded litter trays are not as easy to access for young kittens, and you may find that your kittens can’t get into the box or that if they can’t see each other or mother, they don’t use it.
Your kittens may wind up using the outside of that litter box or going somewhere else.
Once your kittens are a bit older and physically bigger, and they have the hang of things regarding their bathroom breaks, you can teach them to use a hooded litter tray.
How do you train a cat to use a hooded litter box?
The first step in training your cat or older kitten to use a hooded litter box is to position the hooded litter box in the same spot as the old one.
This is crucial as cats don’t like their litter box moved around and since this was the area of the old litter box, placing it in the same spot increases success.
The new hooded litter box will be different than the older litter box, so taking the hood off is a good next step.
These boxes come with clips on the side to remove the top for cleanup.
Taking the hood off the litter box resembles the old litter box, and the older kitten or cat is more likely to accept and use it.
Once they have used it for a few days, you can put the lid back on and see what happens.
Some cats, at this point, will just continue to use the new box and not care if there is a lid on it or not.
Others may not be as accepting of this change.
A hooded litter box provides privacy, which we may think is a good idea.
Many cats will like this privacy, but some may not like the fact that they only have one entrance or exit.
Cats can feel trapped if an intruder or threat should appear, and knowing they only have one way in or out can make them uncomfortable.
If after you put the lid back on the box, they don’t use it, you can remove it again for a time and try it again.
At this point, it is important to leave their litter, and the cats waste inbox as hard as it may be.
Their scent in the box helps them accept this new place as their bathroom spot.
If they don’t accept this new hooded litter tray at this point, the parent should periodically gently place them in the box.
They might climb right back out, but repeated attempts at this will usually win the day, and the older kitten or cat will accept this new bathroom.
It should be noted that there are a few exceptions to this rule, and some cats simply don’t like a hooded litter tray.
If this winds up being the case, there are a few things a parent can do.
Creativity can win the day and, depending on how determined the parent is that they use a hooded tray, they have a few options.
First, they can try removing the hinged door that comes with the tray.
Many times, cats will take to a hooded tray if this door is removed to see what is going on.
Often the thought of being completely enclosed inside a room for your cat is strange because it is so small and only offers one entrance or exit.
If that doesn’t work, the parent could try cutting out another opening on the opposite side of the hooded tray, so the cat has two doors.
This idea can provide the cat with an alternate entrance and exit to feel better about using the hooded litter tray.
Doing so might seem to defeat the purpose of the hooded litter box in the first place, but most of the time, their waste will be kept inside, smells will still be cut down, and the parent won’t have to always look at any messes.
Sadly, if a cat still doesn’t go inside the hooded litter tray at this point, they may never do so because they don’t like it.
At this point, it may be best to provide them with a high-rimmed litter box to help keep the waste inside, so they don’t start using other areas of the house.
Do cats prefer open or hooded litter boxes?
Some cats prefer an open litter box and others prefer a hooded litter box.
Preferences are based on personality, temperament, and other factors like their home life.
Cats prefer a litter box that is open as this is closer to what they would use outdoors.
Being able to see what is going on around them if an intruder is approaching and if they need to defend themselves is an important part of their ingrained safety and survival mechanisms.
While humans know that there isn’t a threat when they use the litter box in the spare bathroom, it is instinctual for them.
Some cats will like the privacy of a hooded litter box.
Most cats can adapt to either in the home setting with a little time, patience, and creativity, but some may refuse a hooded litter box.
Whether or not a kitten or cat uses a hooded litter tray, they should never begin the process using one as it is too big and difficult to manage at such a youthful age.
Once a kitten is older, they can learn to use a hooded litter tray, but some may not like it due to a need to see what is going on and their innate survival mechanisms.
If an older kitten or cat does accept using one of these hooded litter boxes, they are a fantastic way to keep the home smelling and looking clean!