I don’t know about you, but I just want a litter mat that works. I don’t want to step on litter bits. I don’t want my kid picking up a piece of litter and putting it alarmingly close to her mouth until I notice at the last second… just stop. What I want is a nice looking mat to catch litter, stop the footprints and if I may, have it blend well enough into the home that no one looks twice that that lovely new rug that just happens to be placed near my cat’s toilet.
Even if you’ve researched and bought the best cat litter for low tracking, most of them aren’t perfect all of the time and spillage and tracking can still happen.
A good litter mat strategically placed will drastically reduce or completely eliminate litter being taken away from the litter box area.
When your cat is tracking throughout house and even into places like your bed, it makes having a cat(s) around a little less pleasant.
After all, they are naturally clean animals so we shouldn’t have to be cleaning up stray litter multiple times a day, whether it’s using a vacuum cleaner or a broom (or just brushing it aside with your foot!).
Types of Litter Mats
You might think all mats for litter are created equal – but that’s not the case!
There are different shapes and sizes of course, but also mats made of different materials. And the type of cat litter you use can help you make the right choice on a mat that will work best to stop tracking.
Additionally, the type of litter box your cat has will be something to consider.
Some litter boxes, including automatic or self cleaning ones, have an inbuilt mat such as those with a ramp. You can extend this by adding another standalone mat to reduce litter tracking even more if you’ve noticed that your cat is still taking litter out of the tray or leaving footprints.
Here’s what to look for when choosing a good cat litter mat:
- Non-slip underside: There’s no point placing a mat in a strategic spot, only to have it moved every time your cat (or anyone else) touches it.
Good mats will have a grippy bottom surface, often made of rubber, that stops the mat from sliding around the floor. These work well on almost all types of flooring surfaces from hardwood, to tiles, to carpets.
- Ease of cleaning: Being what it is, a surface that your cat will walk on after using the litter box, the mat will likely require regular or semi-regular cleaning at least. This could be as simple as shaking it off outdoors, or you might need a more thorough clean like a vacuum or disinfecting with soap and water.
Lower quality mats will have a short life if they’re wet regularly, but the better ones will be made of more durable materials that can withstand regular washing and cleaning without falling apart or fraying.
- Size: Let’s face it – some cats just take up more room than others. If you have a lovely, neat and tidy kitty then a small mat could certainly be all you need. But protecting a wider and longer area around the litter box exit point (dependign on the design of the box or tray) will naturally reduce the chance of tracking and litter mess. If you have dual litter boxes then having an extra large mat to cover the entire area makes litter management a whole lot easier. Putting litter boxes on top of the mats, rather than just up against it, can make the area look very neat and tidy.
Have some idea of the area you’d like the mat to occupy, then you’ll be able to more easily choose a mat that has the dimensions that fit the space you have available.
- Waterproof: Most litter mats have a fabric surface to help control scatter and to trap litter particles on the mat.
But some are made of a smooth waterproof material on the top layer. If you prefer not to have litter particles trapped in the mat, a smooth surfaced mat is a good option. They can also be easier to clean with a quick wipe down.
- Appearance: For most of us, this is something that’s going to be visible somewhere in the house. Luckily, most of these mats are designed to fit well into home decor and a lot of them look just like a regular door mat that you might have around the home. Not that your cat will care, but having something that doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb is always nice when it comes to managing our cat’s litter requirements! This is especially so when space is limited.
Litter Mats With Scatter Control
What is scatter control? Quite simply, as you’d probably assume, it’s about stopping the scatter of stray litter pieces. This applies to most litter types, including clay-based clumping and non clumping litter, crystal litter and paper-based litter.
A simple, but very large mat, like this one from Smiling Paws Pets, is designed with scatter control in mind.
I’ve no idea how they’ve come up with the statistic that this mat traps “82% more litter” (I’m sure there’s a scientific study out there somewhere.. maybe), but numbers aside, having a mat this large is going to clearly provide more buffer between the litter box and your floor. Size is only one aspect though. It’s the material of the mat that will largely determine how effective it is in trapping litter and stopping the dreaded scatter. The wavy almost 1/2 inch thick spaghetti-like plastic (BPA-free) surface provides a highly uneven, yet soft texture to catch litter particles and to stop them bouncing off the mat. The underside is non-slip and waterproof (i.e pee proof), so you won’t have the mat inadvertaently moving away from the litter box and leaving an exposed floor gap if your cat decides to paw it, or your dog uses it as a bed… in any case, an extra large cat litter mat like this strikes a good balance between providing enough “trapping space” to catch stray litter, without imposing on your living area.
DIY Litter Tracking Mat Ideas
Some people have decided to come up with their own do it yourself litter mats.
Something as simple as a yoga mat can do the job – but quite honestly, even the best dedicated kitty litter mats are likely going to be lower cost, and more effective than a yoga mat.
Of course if you need something urgently and a yoga mat is on hand to use as a proper litter mat alternative, then it’s certainly better than nothing (hopefully you don’t have one of those extra fancy expensive yoga mats though!).
Thankfully real cat litter mats are affordable enough that for most people, it’s just easier than thinking up a DIY solution. Even if you’re on a low budget, you don’t have to spend big to get a decent mat for your litter area.
What About a Low Tracking Litter Box?
Some litter boxes are designed to minimize tracking, and you might be able to get away without using a mat at all – some will have built in mats or ramps to reduce tracking outside the box.
I talk about some of these types of litter boxes here.
Low-tracking is just that; low amounts of tracking, but not necessarily no tracking. So there might be times you still need an extra mat even with these boxes – depending on your tolerance level for litter spillage and footprints.