How to Transition Cat to Covered Litter Box: Seamless Shift

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How to Transition Cat to Covered Litter Box

Transitioning your cat to a covered litter box can be a smooth process with the right approach. Covered boxes offer benefits like reduced odor and litter tracking, but some cats might need a little extra encouragement to make the switch.

This article provides a step-by-step guide to help you and your furry friend through this change. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Choose the Right Box

Choosing the Right Size

Cat in front of Covered Litter Box

When transitioning your cat to a covered litter box, the first step is crucial: selecting the right box. The size of the box is incredibly important. It should be spacious enough for your cat to move around comfortably.

Cats need enough room to turn, dig, and position themselves without feeling cramped. A box that’s too small can discourage your cat from using it, leading to accidents or discomfort.

Create a Familiar Environment

In addition to size, familiarity plays a significant role in the transition. Cats are creatures of habit and are often resistant to change.

To make the switch smoother, try to find a covered litter box that resembles your cat’s current open box in shape and size.

This familiarity can help your cat feel more at ease with the new box. If the covered box is similar to their old one, the cat is more likely to accept it as a suitable place for their bathroom needs.

Step 2: Introduce the Box


Cat laying near their litter box

When introducing a new covered litter box, placement is key. It’s best to place the new box right next to the old one. This strategy is important because cats generally do not respond well to abrupt changes in their environment.

By placing the new box in a familiar location, your cat can discover and explore it at their own pace, without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

This proximity allows the cat to naturally become curious about the new box while still having the comfort of their old, familiar option close by.

Open Door Policy

Covered Litter Box with open door

Another crucial aspect of introducing the new box is to make it as inviting as possible. Initially, you should remove the lid or keep the door of the covered box open. This open-door policy allows your cat to see and smell that the new box is just another litter box, not something to be afraid of.

Doing so gives your cat a chance to explore the new box without feeling trapped or confined. Cats are naturally cautious with new objects in their environment, especially something as important as their litter box.

Allowing them to see inside the new box helps them understand that it’s safe and familiar, just like their old one.

Step 3: Encourage Exploration

Owner giving his cat a treat

Encouraging your cat to explore the new covered litter box is a vital step in the transition. One effective way to do this is by creating positive associations with the new box.

Spend time playing with your cat near the new litter box. This can be done by engaging in their favorite games or using their preferred toys in the vicinity of the box.

The idea here is to make the area around the new litter box feel safe, fun, and inviting. Cats often associate areas where they play and receive affection with positive experiences.

By playing near the new box, you’re subtly suggesting to your cat that this is a good, comfortable place to be.

Step 4: Gradual Transition

Mix Litters

A gradual transition is key to getting your cat comfortable with the new covered litter box. Start by mixing some of the old litter with the new one in the covered box. This blending of cat litter helps in two ways: it brings the familiar scent of the old litter into the new space, and it helps your cat understand that the new box is for the same purpose as the old one.

Cats rely heavily on scent to navigate their world, so the familiar smell of their old litter in the new box can be very reassuring. This step is particularly important if you’re also changing the type of litter you use.

Partial Coverage

Cat leaving Covered Litter Box

After your cat starts showing interest in the new box with the mixed litter, move to the next phase of the transition: partial coverage.

Place the lid on the new box but leave the door or flap open. This step is about slowly introducing your cat to the idea of a covered space without making it feel too enclosed or different from what they’re used to.

By leaving the door or flap open, you’re giving your cat the option to escape quickly if they feel uncomfortable, which can greatly reduce anxiety.

Over time, as your cat becomes more accustomed to the presence of the lid, they’ll likely start feeling more comfortable with the idea of a fully covered litter box.

Step 5: Remove the Old Box

Covered Litter Box on room's corner

The final step in transitioning your cat to a new covered litter box involves the removal of the old box, which should be done gradually.

Once you notice that your cat is consistently using the new covered litter box, you can begin phasing out the old one. However, it’s important to do this slowly to avoid causing any stress or confusion.

Start by moving the old litter box a little further away from its original spot each day, or you could start by cleaning it less frequently. These subtle changes can encourage your cat to prefer the new, cleaner, and more conveniently located covered box.

Pay close attention to your cat’s behavior during this phase. If they seem hesitant or revert back to using the old box more frequently, it might indicate that they are not yet fully comfortable with the new one. In that case, slow down the removal process even more or pause it for a while.

Adjustments for a Cat Refusing to Use the New Litter Box

If your cat is not using the new covered litter box, consider these specific steps:

  1. Revert to the Old Box Temporarily: If your cat seems extremely stressed, it might be helpful to go back to the old box for a short while. This can help reduce their anxiety and give you time to reassess.
  2. Check the Box Size and Type: Make sure the new box is the right size. Some cats might not like certain types of covered boxes. Try a different style of covered box if the current one isn’t working.
  3. Remove the Lid: If the covered aspect seems to be the problem, try removing the lid or door of the new box. This can make the box feel more open and less intimidating for your cat. While this might temporarily defeat the purpose of containing odors or litter scatter, it can provide a necessary adjustment period for your cat.
  4. Use Cat Attractants: Sometimes, using catnip or pheromone sprays can encourage a cat to explore and use the new box.
  5. Consult a Veterinarian: If your cat consistently refuses to use any litter box, it could be a sign of a health issue. In such cases, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian.


We hope this guide has been helpful in transitioning your cat to their new covered litter box. With patience and the right approach, most cats can successfully adjust to this change, making their daily routine more pleasant for both of you.

We’d love to hear about your experience! Please feel free to drop a comment below sharing how long the transition took for your cat and any tips you might have discovered along the way.

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