No litter box is perfect when it comes to keeping litter where it belongs – in the box. High-sided litter boxes contain scatter better than most, but even they have their limitations. If you’re looking for a little box that really works to keep dirty litter (and odor) inside, consider a top entry cat litter box.
Top entry litter boxes are just what they sound like. They’re enclosed litter boxes with an opening in the top rather than the side of the litter box. Because they’re enclosed all the way around, these boxes tend to do a better job containing litter scatter, urine spray, and odor than conventional litter pans.
There’s no shortage of top entry litter boxes available on the market and many of them are very similar in design. I’ve done my best to select options that have at least one feature that sets them apart from other options.
At a Glance: 5 Best Top Entry Cat Litter Boxes
In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
Why Should You Trust Us?
Over the last three years, we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out what it takes to make a great litter box.
We’ve researched the types of litter boxes available, read hundreds of customer reviews, and performed real-world tests on over a dozen top boxes. We spent over 40 hours testing these litter boxes’ sturdiness, cat-friendliness, and ability to contain litter scatter and odor.
Based on this extensive research and hands-on testing, we’ve selected the 5 cat litter boxes described below as the best top entry litter boxes you can buy.
How We Picked
Over the past month, I’ve been testing more than a dozen different litter boxes with my three cats Bagel, Biscuit, and Munchkin. My cats have never been averse to using top entry boxes, so the testing process went pretty smoothly.
I narrowed down the options on the market to the five picks reviewed here based on a few criteria: size, materials, lid design, and price. Each of the options reviewed below has something unique about it which might make it more appealing to you and your cat than other top entry boxes.
The Best Top Entry Litter Boxes: Our Top 5 Picks
5 Features To Look For in a Top Entry Litter Box
If you’re tired of sweeping up scattered litter or scrubbing urine off the wall behind the litter box, it may be time to upgrade to a top entry litter box. The Internet is full of DIY guides for making top entry boxes out of storage totes, but if you want something that’s specifically designed to solve the problem at hand, one of the products on this list might be the perfect pick.
Here are 5 things to consider when shopping for top entry litter boxes:
1. Is It Large Enough for Your Cat?
Size is an important factor no matter what kind of litter box you’re shopping for. If the litter box is too small, your cat may have a difficult time digging around to cover his waste, leaving you with litter scattered all over the floor outside the box. Specifically in the case of enclosed litter boxes like top entry boxes, a too-small box may also make your cat feel claustrophobic.
The general rule for litter box sizing is to measure your cat’s body from nose to the tip of his tail. Choose a litter box that is at least that long. The width of the litter box should be about equal to the length of your cat’s body without the tail. When it comes to enclosed litter boxes, bigger is usually better. Choosing a top entry litter box with a spacious interior will help your cat feel less cramped.
2. How Big Is the Entrance Hole?
Not only do you need to determine whether there’s enough space inside the litter box for your cat to comfortably use it, but it’s important to look at the size and shape of the entrance hole.
Some cats like to climb up onto the litter box before going inside while others jump straight through the hole. Your cat’s preferences may determine how large the entrance hole needs to be. Until you’ve learned your cat’s preferences, however, you may want to play it safe and go with a larger entrance hole.
3. Are the Materials Sturdy Enough To Support Your Cat’s Weight?
A traditional litter pan can get away with being fairly flimsy, especially if your cat can just step over the walls to get in and out. With a top entry litter box, however, your cat is likely to step on the lid at some point. Look for a litter box made from sturdy materials that don’t bend or sag under your cat’s weight.
Take a look at the materials from which other parts of the litter box are made as well. If the litter box has handles that attach to the lid, make sure they’re sturdy as well. If your cat jumps onto the lid from a height, you want to make sure the sudden pressure won’t snap the handles.
4. Does It Help Catch Extra Litter?
By their nature, top entry litter boxes do a good job of containing litter scatter. Simply by digging around in the box, however, your cat is going to end up with some litter stuck to his paws. Because your cat has to climb or jump up out of a top entry box, some of that litter will fall off on its own. Many top entry litter boxes also design the lid to double as a litter mat. Look for a lid that is perforated or textured to help catch extra litter before your cat hops back down to the floor.
5. Is It Worth the Cost?
You can buy a conventional litter pan for under $10 but, as any wise cat owner knows, you get what you pay for. Top entry litter boxes tend to be pricier than traditional options. If you’re going to be spending more, you want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
When comparing prices for top entry litter boxes, compare the size, materials, and design. It may be worth paying a few extra dollars for a jumbo-sized litter box if your cat weighs more than 10 pounds. You might even be able to find top entry litter boxes that come with accessories like a litter scoop.
Why Do Some Cats Not Like Top-Entry Litter Boxes?
While top-entry litter boxes can be a practical solution for small spaces and messy cats, they aren’t without their disadvantages. In fact, there are a few factors which make top-entry boxes less cat-friendly than traditional open-style litter pans.
Top-entry litter boxes are essentially enclosed litter boxes with the entry on the top instead of the side, so both styles have the same issues when it comes to security. Cats feel vulnerable when they’re in the litter box, especially when there is only one point of entry and exit. When the entry/exit is on top of the litter box, it’s even easier for your cat to get trapped inside by a dog or another cat.
Enclosed litter boxes do a decent job of preventing litter box odor from proliferating around the house, but that means most of it stays in the litter box where your cat has to deal with it. Some cats have very sensitive noses and will refuse to use a top-entry box for this reason.
Accessibility can also be an issue with top-entry litter boxes. Healthy cats and older kittens generally have no trouble getting into and out of a top-entry litter box, but it can be tricky for geriatric cats and cats with mobility issues. Even if they’re able to step down into the litter box from above, the task of jumping back out may be difficult or even painful. If your cat can’t comfortably use the litter box, he may avoid it entirely.
Every cat has their own preferences and it’s important to take them into account when choosing a litter box. If for some reason your cat simply won’t use a top-entry litter box, don’t waste a lot of time on training – choose something more cat-friendly that your cat will actually use.
Not sure whether a top entry litter box is the right solution for your household? Don’t worry – there are plenty more options out there and we’ve tested many of them ourselves?
Check out our guide to the top 11 litter boxes on the market here:
Frequently Asked Questions
Are top entry litter boxes good for kittens?
It depends on the kitten. Kittens are curious by nature, and many have no trouble at all figuring out top entry litter boxes. The primary concern is whether the kitten’s size will prevent it from being able to jump up to enter the box. Some boxes like the ModKat XL and the Genenic litter box are convertible, enabling you to start out with a front entry and then add or swap out for the top entry option once your kitten gets a little bigger.
Are top entry litter boxes good for small spaces?
Top entry litter boxes can be a good option for apartments and other small living spaces because they do a good job of containing litter, urine spray, and odor. Because they’re enclosed, they’re also less of an eyesore than an open litter box – especially in common spaces like the living room.