When Marc asked me if I would like to review a new type of cat litter tray I jumped at the chance! The reason for this is that I spend my life with my nose in litter trays, not as an odd fettish, but being a Cat Behaviourist it kind of goes with the territory.
The Litter Tray in question is the Cateco® Odour-Proof Litter Box and its unique selling point over standard cat litter trays is that it reduces odours by up to 86%. How does it do this? By creating a way to allow air to circulate through the tray and by keeping the environment ‘dry’. More of that later!
On its arrival my cat Billy helpfully inspected the delivery label to make sure it was actually intended for him, then after a minor amount of obstruction he got down to the serious matter of helping me open the box as well as providing an initial inspection and running a ‘sit-ability’ test.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, after all, it’s just a litter tray right?
As you can see from the picture below, there’s a bit more to it, and to be honest with all the pieces spread out in front of me I got the same sinking feeling as when I’m about to attempt to put together a piece of flat-pack furniture. Thankfully, instructions were provided and once I’d applied a bit of lateral thinking it was really quite easy.
- In this picture the mesh and plastic strips that hold it in place are already installed in the main tray (top left)
The product comprises the following elements:
A shallow bottom tray with air vents around its perimeter into which you place a Cateco absorbent pad. The main litter tray sits on top of this. Likewise, the base of this is a criss-cross of air vents and this is covered with a removable tear-proof (and invisible in these pictures!) mesh which is clipped into place with two plastic strips.
There is a detachable rim which clips onto the top of the main tray, or if you have a litter-flicker cat you might want to opt for the ‘extender’ in which case you would attach this to the top of the main tray instead of the rim. The tray is a lovely size, big enough for even large cats to be able to comfortably move around in.
Once it’s assembled you add the litter directly on to the mesh. Although Cateco® state that the tray works with most absorbent litters, to maximise its technology they recommend a good quality fine clumping cat litter be used with it and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve lost count the number of times owners have congratulated me on resolving their cat’s soiling issues when all I’ve done is advise them to change the litter. The fact is, that cats generally prefer a fine, rakeable litter that is nice and soft on their sensitive paw pads. The ancestor of our domestic moggie was a desert dweller, so it makes sense that something close to how sand feels is usually quite popular with our feline friends (as anybody with a sandpit in their garden will testify!)
Having located the tray in a nice discreet position, we were ready to go and it wasn’t long before Billy obliged.
I found that removing clumps and solids was easier than with standard trays. This is because when clumping litter sits on the base of a plastic tray it can get a bit ‘sticky’ and difficult to scrape off. With this tray the litter is sitting mainly on mesh, which made removal less of a work-out for your arm especially with the litter scoop that was included. I find that many scoops have very wide holes meaning that much of the soiled litter simply falls back through them into the tray. This scoop is designed to catch even the smallest of urine-soaked particles and I would highly recommend it.
And now for the science bit. Because the Cateco® litter box allows air to circulate this helps to continuously dry the litter which restricts the spread of the bacteria which are responsible for strong odours. Urine deposited passes through the mesh and is absorbed by the pad in the lower tray. This means that the tray requires emptying and washing less frequently. In fact, Cateco® recommends that with the use of ‘high-end clumping litter’ the tray needs cleaning out only ‘every 3 to 5 months’.
Having only too frequently seen the results of litter trays not being cleaned often enough, I shuddered at this bold assertion. I also firmly believe that having introduced cats into our homes we should accept the chores that go with them and not look to cut corners. So, let’s find out whether all these claims proved valid when put to the test.
In the interests of full-transparency I have just one cat (Billy) who used the tray for four weeks before I caved in and cleaned it out.
I have to say I was incredibly impressed. Even when poking my nose into the tray as far as I dare without actually covering it in litter, I couldn’t detect any smell whatsoever at the end of the four-week period. However, it’s not just our human noses that can be assaulted by litter tray smells, but the noses of the producers of the smells. So just because we might not be able to detect tray odours, it doesn’t mean that our cats with their much more sophisticated sense of smell can’t and this is something that needs to be taken into consideration when determining the frequency of cleaning the tray. How often you remove clumps and solids also has an impact on the strength of smell, in my test I was doing this twice daily.
The emptying and washing of the tray was a bit more onerous than with a standard tray as residual bits of soiled litter can get caught under the plastic strips that hold the mesh in place as well as on the mesh itself.
- The bottom of the main tray with one of the plastic strips removed showing litter underneath.
- Washing the mesh
So, I found that the only way to give the tray a thorough clean was to completely dismantle it, including removing the plastic strips and the mesh and wash each part before re-assembling it and adding fresh litter.
However, the time spent doing this can be balanced against the fact that the tray needs to be cleaned less frequently.
Whilst I would never advise leaving a tray for 3 months without a thorough clean, especially in a multi-cat households, with this tray you can certainly extend the period of time in-between cleanings. So, with test complete and everything taken into consideration, I am happy to say that I heartily recommend trying the Cateco® litter tray. Available in the UK / Worldwide via the Katzenworld Shop who distributes them on behalf of PerAnimal.