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How Deep Should Cat Litter Be?

Creating the perfect litter box set up that fits both the needs of you and your cat can be a tedious task, but once you find what works and what doesn’t, it is pretty rewarding. There are a lot of things about the litter set up to tweak to find what works best for your cat. One of these is the depth of the litter.

how deep should cat litter be

Litter should be about 2 – 3 inches deep. Litter depth is a small detail that plays a large role in whether or not you may have litter box-related issues. This depth or around this depth is ideal is because it provides your cat with enough room to cover and bury their waste but there isn’t too much litter where leads to other problems such as creating a mess around the box, wasting money, and other similar issues to arise.

Key Takeaways

  • 2 – 3 inches of litter provide a balance that allows cats to bury their waste comfortably without creating excess mess or wasting litter.
  • Using too much litter can result in waste of money, excessive mess, and discomfort for cats, especially seniors or those with long hair, who may find it difficult to handle deep litter.
  • Insufficient litter depth can lead to a smelly and visibly dirty litter box, which can dissuade cats from using it, hence maintaining the suggested depth is crucial to support your cat’s hygiene and comfort.

Problems With Using Too Much Litter

Using too much litter is a bad idea.

First off, it not effective. There is a common misconception that if you use more litter then you will not have to clean the box as frequently because your feline will be able to have more litter to be able to bury their waste. This is simply just not a good idea because it could actually cause your cat to completely stop using their litter box. Just from looking at the litter box, there may be nothing that needs to be scooped but for your cat who has to walk in the litter box, they will certainly notice their waste. If your cat has to deal with stepping in their own waste, they will not want to use their litter box plain and simple.

Waste Of Money

Filling up your litter box with too much litter is a waste of money. Litter is already expensive when used normally. You will have to buy more litter more regularly and this can quickly add up. It can also lead to your cat kicking litter everywhere. Your cat may try to dig more when the litter is too deep so they can get better footing which leads to more litter on the ground. This will mean it takes longer cleaning up and if your original reason for using more litter was to make the cleaning process shorter then it makes no sense to put too much litter in the box. Also, some cat owners will try to fix this problem with a covered litter box but this just creates more problems like more odor and a cat that doesn’t want to use their box.

Inability To Comfortably Use Their BoxCat standing in litter box

A lot of cats may like to move and turn around when they are in their litter box, but if they are constantly off balance then they will be discouraged to go to the litter box when they need to eliminate.

Another problem with putting too much litter in the pan is that older cats will not appreciate having to walk through deep litter to just use the bathroom. This can exacerbate the pain that senior cats have to deal with, and in turn, your cat may just stop using the litter box.

Keep It Shallow For Long-Haired Cats

Also, keep in mind that long-haired cats usually do not like having deep litter because they don’t like it when litter gets caught in their hair. Just having their hair rub up against the litter is annoying for them.

Signs You’re Using More Than Enough Litter

Check out the list below for some common signs that you might be using too much litter. If these signs are relatable, definitely consider decreasing the amount of litter in the box next time you completely change out your cat’s litter box.

  • Your cat doesn’t eliminate in the litter box.
  • There is cat litter all over the ground near their box.
  • You add more litter than required so you don’t have to scoop as often.
  • Your cat doesn’t completely stand in the litter box because they don’t have good footing while standing.
  • Your cat doesn’t seem to be steady when standing in the box.

Problems With Not Using Enough Litter

Using less than enough litter can be an even bigger problem than using too much. If there is not enough litter in the box for your cat to cover up their waste then their litter box will quickly turn into a dirty place where they will not feel comfortable taking care of business.

Also, if their waste isn’t covered it will lead to it being pretty smelly and this sucks for both you and your cat. Again, cats are clean creatures so if their waste is visible and stinky because there isn’t enough litter then they will find another spot to go. You are probably trying to avoid as much smell as you can and are wanting to prevent accidents from occurring with your cat eliminating in spots they shouldn’t so filling the box with enough litter is crucial. If smell is a concern for you, here are solutions for getting it gone.

Signs You’re Using Too Little Cat Litter

  • Your cat is not eliminating in their litter box.
  • Your cat’s potty area seems like it smells worse than it should.
  • Your cat is scratching at the bottom of the litter box trying to cover up their waste.
  • Your cat can’t properly cover up their poop

If you notice any of these above signs, then it is the right decision to make the litter deeper to see if it improves the situation.


How often should you completely change cat litter?

A cat owner scooping the litter boxYou should completely replace the old stuff with fresh litter and clean the box at least once every two weeks, preferably once a week. If you use non-clumping cat litter, then it should be closer to twice a week. If your preferred choice is clumping litter, then it will be less frequent according to theĀ Humane Society. This is because with clumping litter you can scoop out your cat’s urine while with non-clumping, it just absorbs the urine until it becomes too saturated and then it needs to be cleaned. You should scoop out your cat’s waste a couple of times a day and if possible every time they use the box. If the box gets full with waste faster than what your current cleaning schedule is it is probably best to start cleaning it more often.

What depth litter for multiple cats?

If you are the owner of more than one cat, you should have at least one litter box for each cat and then there should be an extra communal one around. Having the right amount of litter boxes for however many cats you have is important to ensure each cat has a safe and reliable place to use the bathroom. If they each have their own litter box, then just follow the advice from above and go with 2 – 3 inches of litter per box.


The question “how deep should cat litter be” can be a tough one to answer as a cat owner. Finding the right amount between too much and too little can prevent your cat from relieving themselves in spots outside of their litter box. If your cat prefers a shallower or deeper litter box and is displaying signs that the depth of their litter is not fitting what they need, you can adjust accordingly to fix the problem.