This post contains affiliate links*

We previously featured high-sided litter boxes to help you contain the mess inside the box rather than all around the box. Even though all of these boxes have lower entrance areas, they may still be too high for senior cats, especially cats with arthritis.

Arthritis is a common condition that affects as many as 3 in 10 cats. It is often not diagnosed in cats because it is difficult to recognize even for the most dedicated cat guardian. The signs can be subtle, and since cats are such masters at masking pain, it often remains untreated. Only 7% of cats with arthritis receive treatment.

Senior cats and litter box behavior

Litter box avoidance may be a symptom of arthritis, although there are many other reasons for eliminating outside the box. Getting in and out of the box may be painful for a cat with aching joints. Your senior cat may need a lower box, and you may also want to add additional boxes, especially in a large or multi-level home. If getting to the litter box requires climbing stairs, senior cats may avoid using the litter box.

KittyGoHere Litter Box


This is the only litter box I was able to find that is specifically designed for senior cats. This attractive and sturdy solution has the lowest entrance I’ve been able to find in a true litter box. Made from sturdy plastic, it comes in several colors and is available from  Amazon and

Litter box alternatives for senior cats

You’d think that more pet product manufacturers would have realized that there’s a market for creating a litter box that makes entry easy for senior and arthritic cats, but there are very few boxes designed specifically for these older cats. My theory is that it’s because, sadly, litter boxes are usually designed with human sensibilities in mind with not enough thought given to what cats want and need in a litter box. A litter box with lower sides will most likely be messier. As a result, cat guardians often have to get creative.

Plant Growing Trays


Plant growing trays like the ones shown above are usually generously sized, and low enough for even the most arthritic cat to get in and out of the box. Make sure you purchase trays without drain holes. You can find these at your local gardening store. Amazon offers a large variety of sizes and shapes, many with free shipping for Prime members.

Under Bed Storage Boxes


Under bed storage boxes can be a good solution. Use a utility knife to cut an opening on either the long or short end. This gives you the flexibility to cut the opening as low and wide as your cat needs. The storage box shown above is available from Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.

Litter containment for low litter boxes

None of these boxes will do a very good job of containing litter, or any spillover accidents, so you’re going to want to place them on an easily washable rug (rubber backed bathroom rugs are a great option) or on pee pads.

Have you found a litter box solution for your senior cats? Share it with us in a comment.

*FTC Disclosure: The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.  

85 Comments on Litter Box Solutions for Senior Cats

  1. Seriously, Thank you to everyone!
    When my baby girl was about 5 she started peering outside of her litter box. Sometimes, she would go into the box halfway, her butt sticking out and pee over the edge. Othertimes she would just not even go in the box, she would pee beside it. I tried every different type of litter imaginable thinking it was an irritation. We tried asking the vet for advice but we figured she was just stubborn. Honestly, we just got used to it. I would put down puppy pads and she peed on those. Thankfully she would stick to one corner, not everywhere. A couple months ago (She is now about to be 10) she hurt herself and wasn’t using her back legs. After an emergency trip to the vet, we found out she had irritated her spine and had arthritis where her spine connects to her hips. I came accross this article, and bought the Kitty Go Here box for her pee corner. She has been peeing in the litter box (and only her litter box) for the first time in 5 years. It is a more expensive box, but it is 1000% worth it. I suggest to anyone with a cat that has arthritis or pee problems to try it out.

  2. Plant nurseries are a good place to look. In addition to the seed growing trays you can also look at the plastic drainage ‘saucers’ that are designed to go at the bottom of potted plants. They will have a wide range of heights, sizes and shapes, plus they’re already designed for catching liquids.
    Also hardware stores will usually have a bunch of plastic possibilities – storage containers, paint trays, large trays for containing stuff in drawers, etc.

  3. I ended up using a “dog” litter box – and then the newspaper pellet litter. I’ve placed these inside a tray that is typically used under a rabbit cage. I also use puppy pads for all the other places where they miss the boxes.

  4. I am something of an inventor. I use a triangle shaped litterbox to fit into my small bathroom. Takes up less space. If kitty has a problem climbing in, put a little sturdy ramp by the opening and keep a litter catching matt under the box – no rug! A ramp would make entrance easy. It should be something that fits onto the lip/edge of the box opening/entrance or stay snugly up against the box.The matt is easily washable and does not go into a washing machine. Just wipe it down if it needs it.

    • @Marlene~

      You mention a ramp being used…did you make a ramp or buy one or use something else?

      I have looked for a ramp and cannot find anything which will work as a ramp for my aged cat.

  5. Yes to help with spill over I chose human bed piddle liners (cheaper than pet piddle pads) and usually bigger. Figi always had a miss the box issue and now worse due to arthritis. so with a extra large under bed storage container. the combo works well

    • We have 6 neutered cats – all rescues – ranging in age from roughly 2 months to geriatric. Our problem is arthritis – mine not theirs. Bending up and down to clean 10 litter boxes placed throughout the house has become physically difficult for me. I’ve been using stools so that I can sit down to do it but I was wondering if their is such a thing as an elevated litter box. (They have their own steps and are coping better than I am at this point). We have tried the “self cleaning” litter boxes with disastrous results

  6. The Senior Kitty Go Here box was a lifesaver and huge convenience for my beloved Mei Mei who, following treatment for hyperthyroid too long before I131 which cured the hyperthyroid but revealed chronic kidney disease. She was peeing “bricks” all the time and I was devastated when I came home one day and found urine at the outside of her regular box. Later that day I walked by as she was in the act and I saw her perched on the edge of the box facing into the box with her butt hanging outside and it dawned on me she was trying to avoid being in the litter which was shortly going to be very wet. All I could think of (the ladies will get it) what it would be like for us if we had to squat to pee in the woods and couldn’t hold ourselves up. I tried to figure out how I could construct some sort of bridge over the middle of the litter box but nothing. Then I discovered the Senior Kitty Go Here box and decided to try it. It worked for her because she quickly realized that she could enter at the low end, turn around and drop her brick and later she could come back and go to the other side of the low end and drop another brick, and her mom made sure to check the box frequently and remove any bricks at the entrance so that Mei Mei always had two dry spots. Crazy maybe but we had no further problems. I have used the box with my other 2 cats but Gus is tall (long legs) and is a vertical pee-er and will raise his butt even over a high box, and with the Kitty-Go-Here box being so low, litter often gets scattered. Still, I think the box is super and I’ll keep it as long as I have cats even if I don’t need to use it now.

  7. I think this is why my mom’s cat stopped using her box. She thought more of her dog who used to get in the box looking for kitty poops, so she put the box up on a table. She made it too hard for her cat to go to the bathroom.

  8. Use a under bed box idea with ramp and then cut away at same place on an even larger box. It won’t contain the litter completely, particularly where the ramp is but
    around other sides any litter that flys out when the cat is digging will go into the other box and help contain things more so than not.

    • I’m getting a low sided box just to see if it will help with the urine problem. Based on the way my cat can leap up on my counters at will, I can’t imagine she has arthritis, but somethimng’s going on. Anyway, since she has always had a high-sided covered litter box, I was dreading the idea of litter flying everywhere. Your suggestion sounds like a great way to address the problem–plus, I can probably find just the right thing in my attic and not have to spend money. Thanks.

      • I place a low sided litter box on a restaurant bun pan which is quite large and can catch any misses. In fact when my old gal had issues with even getting in the low sided box, I removed it and she used the bun pan. It was easy for her to walk in and out of and at that stage of her life she stopped digging so there wasn’t such a huge mess.

  9. I use a pizza dough box that is 3 inches tall. I tried a washing machine tray that was 1.5 inches tall but it was really hard to scoop without the litter flying out of the box. The pizza dough box has been working great.

  10. I take a jumbo Nature’s Miracle Disposable Baking Soda litter box ($2.50 each) and use a box cutter to cut an opening in the front that’s 3″ off the ground (my husband will use his sawzall). It works perfectly and still has high sides to catch litter. The disposable baking soda box is rigid but easier to cut than plastic and the cut edges are soft.

  11. My cat is twelve. she’s peeing on my couch and pooping on the carpet. any ideas on what to do and how I can help her?

  12. My old girl has cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Years ago she had the surgery for megacolon. I ended up buying the crate bottom and using pee pads. I would love to get her back into a box, even with the pre pads instead of litter because she sometimes misses. Any thought?

  13. I have an elderly gal, in kidney failure and weak hind legs. For the bottom portion of my newly designed litter box, I use a high top lid from a plastic type storage container, which has a raised lip around the edge. Then I took the lid from a high topped cat litter pan, which fits right down into the lid from the storage container. Under it all I use a rabbit tray, which Tractor Supply Company sells, which is very rugged and sturdy. I was fortunate to save a plastic box thing from an old refrigerator which serves as a little ramp to get into the litter box area. This works very well, easy for her to get in to the litter area, it has the lid on top from a high topped litter pan ( because she likes to dig a lot when going and the cat litter does fly. ) The lid also helps to keep her body in the litter pan when she is going. Without the lid on top, she was going outside the bottom part, because it is so low to the ground. The rabbit tray underneath everything is large and does catch the mishaps, but because of the kidney failure, there is a lot of urine. I wish someone would design something just like this to sell because it does work quite well. The only thing I would like better would be a higher top, because even though it is a top to a high topped litter pan, the original bottom was much higher, so the top now on top of the much shorter top to a storage container, there is just enough room for kitty to maneuver inside, and she is a small cat.

  14. I have a 17 year old who has obvious issues with his hips and shoulders. When he started going outside the pan, I took a pair of tin snips to the entry side and cut it down to about two inches. Then I put it on a large rubber and some kind of fiber outdoor door mat from Home Depot. This has solved the problem. If he misses, which is rare, the mat protects the floor and is easily cleaned.

  15. Our 17 yo boy has recently started peeing outside his box – he has routinely pooped outside the box for awhile (may be due to the meds he’s on for thyroid and hypertension). We visited our vet a couple of days ago (just a few months after his regular check-up) and discovered that he also has arthritis – as she said, he is very creaky when he moves. She suggest a shallow box and make sure that the litter is around 1/2″ deep and to either use cat attract litter or cat attract litter additive. It’s only been 48 hrs, but so far no outside the box issues. Just like having a high side making it difficult for a cat with mobility issues to use the box properly, deep litter also makes it hard as they can’t squat properly. Now I just need to deep clean the area where he had all the accidents.
    Also, I put a large floor mat that you put under desks under the box as he has decided that the back corner under my sewing table is the ideal spot for his litter box. It makes cleanup easier, and if he poops outside the box, I can clean it with Clorox wipes.

  16. I have a 14+ year old female kitty who has been dealing with IBD for about 4 years now. She uses her litter box without a problem (so long as it’s kept clean) for urinating, but will poop on the floor if she’s not physically taken to the box. I’ve noticed that it appears her issue seems to be more in maintaining “traction” when she tries to poop. I’m thinking about putting a rubber mat in the bottom of her litter box, but wondered if anybody had dealt with something similar with their elderly kitties …? She loves her box (low-sided storage box that she easily gets in/out of) and kitty litter, it’s just frustrating trying to get her to the litter box to poop since she doesn’t have a schedule due to her IBD

    • I loved this idea and I would like to construct something like this for our 21 year old kitty. I was wondering if you could send me a picture

    • Yes, my 18-year old does the same thing. It’s a mystery as to why, and every once in a while she’ll go in the box instead of the floor. I’ve given up and am happy that I don’t have carpet and that at least she goes (mostly) pee in the box!

  17. This helps keep things clean most of the time – buy an extra large “crate tray” (42″ x 28″), $52 at PetSmart (Canada). They have very low sides. We place our litter box in the centre of the tray. It helps contain the litter and our senior cat usually pees on the crate tray if she can’t make it to the actual litter box.

  18. We use the bottom half of a porcelain (enameled metal) broasting pan for our elderly, three-legged kitty. We tossed the slotted top part. It is 1 1/2 inches deep and approximately 18 X 13 overall.

    Has to be washed to keep urine from accumulating under the lip around the edges underneath. A quick scrub around with a brush takes care of it.

    Our old gal only has one front leg and does just fine with it. We keep a pet pee pad under it as she misses sometimes and also slings litter when trying to cover.

    A bead of silicone caulk under the lip might fill in the gap under the rolled edge but we are fine with washing it out often.

    Thanks for all the great ideas!

  19. My 17 yr old female cat does have arthritis in front
    declawed paws/legs. Shes
    taking pain meds but the vet and I just started her treatments. So for many of the posts that have this outside the box syndrome I am validating their belief that arthritis is a major part of the problem. I am going a little nutty with buying different litter boxes. I use paper pellets on top of regular litter to ease her pain. Clumps well. Getting to the box in time, having immaculate box (scoop out extremely often) helps. I still have the poop every morning on my floor. But I can see her attempts to use the box. I am going to attempt the much lower garden pans or cookie pans
    next. The vet is changing her food to a RX diet esp. for arthritis. All in progress.
    I make sure there is a light on at night so she can see the boxes. (I recently added one.) I will keep in touch and hope to here more from
    senior cat adopters.

    • Glad to hear that. I will be trying the garden pans too as I have a cat that has cerebular hyperthesia and wobbles a lot. Thank you for all the suggestions.

  20. My 17 yr old cat will urinate in her box with an entry cut out but every single morning and sometimes twice a day, I find a clump of fecal on the tile floor just inches from her box. I am very very frustrated and have used odor control cleaners repeatedly. She has one box with clumping litter which I cover with paper litter (the little tubes) so her declawed paws are protected from the clay. That does cut down on clay in her paws but she will not use the box for her bowel movements. I remove the clumps often. She seems to have picked a special spot on the floor that she prefers to squat on. Should I have two boxes? Thank you.

    • If you haven’t already taken your cat to the vet to rule out medical issues, please do so as soon as possible. If there are no medical reasons for this behavior, I would definitely add a second box. You may also need to experiment with different litters, but don’t change more than one thing at a time, or you may be causing additional problems.

    • My cat has her favourite spot to poop also. And she refuses to use any of the 5 litter boxes I have in my small apartment. She only goes on the puppy pads I put in front of the boxes, (because that’s where she kept peeing). My other kidney cat has just passed, so I’m getting rid of most of the litter boxes. I’m thinking she might have arthritis, and if I cut the entrance lower, that might help. Any suggestions?

      • I think there is a natural spray- that makes cats feel really good/attractsthem? I had bought(our cat was going pee on my daughter’s bed) and you could use that at letterbox site..also cat nip, maybe? Google ideas- for getting your cat to enjoy her letterbox area- to use

  21. My 15 year old cat doesn’t squat, dig a hole to pee in or cover up her litter. She walks in doesn’t turn around and just goes. Most of the time over the side of the front opening which is lower than the rest of the sides. She has bad arthritis in her knees and shoulders. Any suggestion…..Also she is a big cat…not really overweight just big.

    • Hey,

      Same issue here..most of the time everything goes outside….I am going to try a geriatric litter…almost no step to get in and open on the top..the vet says this should really help!

      • Same here. I have seen Tabby go into the box, and the pee comes out all over the floor. The poo is often on the mat outside the box. I need to place another box on main floor but it is such an open layout. I may place under the stairs.

        • This is an old comment, but I still want to reply.

          I have my litter boxes set on top of the plastic trays that go on the bottom of wire dog crates. These can catch any urine that comes out the front of the box. I have puppy pads between the box and the tray to make cleanup easy.

          I have 2 boys who refuse to squat to pee (not arthritic, just stubborn). I have very high sided boxes for them (18 inches) so they can’t pee over the top. But, just in case, I have the walls around the boxes lined with puppy pads. I use Command hooks to hold the pads in place so they’re easy to remove/replace.

          With this setup I’ve not had any problems at all with urine making it to my floor.

    • Same issue with my 18 year old cat. I bought a large box with a low entry but she steps in, stands at the opening and pees outside the box. So then I tried using puppy pee pads which I have to change almost every day. I’ve tried putting a litter box inside a larger litter box (no lids) with the tall sides at opposite ends, built a ramp and still she somehow seems to pee over the side of the inside box which creates a big mess trying to clean the outer box. So now I’m going back to the pee pads.

      • I posted this in response to another comment, but it probably will help you too:

        I have my litter boxes set on top of the plastic trays that go on the bottom of wire dog crates. These can catch any urine that comes out the front of the box. I have puppy pads between the box and the tray to make cleanup easy.

        I have 2 boys who refuse to squat to pee (not arthritic, just stubborn). I have very high sided boxes for them (18 inches) so they can’t pee over the top. But, just in case, I have the walls around the boxes lined with puppy pads. I use Command hooks to hold the pads in place so they’re easy to remove/replace.

        With this setup I’ve not had any problems at all with urine making it to my floor.

    • I doubt you’ll read this, but push all of the litter to the side furthest from the “door”; your cat will PROBABLY want to stand on litter, and probably doesn’t bury anything anyways, so there will be pee/poop sitting on the plastic.

  22. Would using organic potting soil instead of litter be a good thing to try? I have through of making a small dirt bed, mixed with shredded paper, that the cats could just step into. Being that I would have it next to a wall, I would put plastic surround on the wall, and then pee padding in front of the open entrance.

    I have used shredded paper in the box before, which was great at hiding the odor for two to three days. I just couldn’t keep the paper from getting all over the litter area. My boys didn’t seem to mind the paper at all.

    • I don’t see why potting soil wouldn’t be okay to use, but it would be awfully messy since it won’t clump. You’d have to change the entire content of the box out every day.

        • This is a horrible idea, please don’t do it. Potting mix is usually made with peat or coir, this will stick to your cats feet and be ingested when they bathe. This can very well kill them.

          Potting soil is also full of wetting agents that are not meant for consumption.

  23. I had a senior cat with kidney failure, so he peed in quantity due to the fluids (although also because of that, the pee was quite dilute) but due to arthritis, he couldn’t crouch well enough to keep the pee in the box, so he peed basically right out the end.

    When he was still using a regular box, I kept it in my laundry room, and put down a plastic tray with an old towel at the box entrance. He would simply pee out the end of the box, onto the old towel. I would hang up the wet one every morning to dry, put down a dry one, and just wash an extra load of towels every week. (Admittedly his pee was dilute, as mentioned, so it was never very smelly.)

    When he had problems even with that much climbing into the box, we used a series of plastic cement mixing trays, available at any hardware store. They are cheap, and offer the added bonus of no nooks and crannies to scoop out. I cut a low opening in the end for him to get in and out.

    We also had success with a combination of clay and paper litter, which was more absorbent than just clay, and didn’t stick so much to the plastic.

  24. I got my arthritic cat the Nature’s Miracle box with the low dip in the front. She can get in and out of it OK, but because her back legs hurt, she doesn’t squat far enough down and her pee goes flying out the dip. I haven’t figured out what to do about yet.

    • Your best bet is probably using puppy pee pads under the low side of the box. That way, it’ll be easy to clean up anything that lands outside the box, and it won’t seep through to the floor underneath the pad.

  25. I work in an animal hospital where we have several senior or disabled cats at a time. I took a cat carrier and left the door off. I dremeled off the little pieces of plastic meant to hold the door in place and sanded them down so the cats wouldn’t scratch themselves on it going in and out. So now, they have low entry litter pan! (Which can be used with or without the top!)

  26. My Chicken Cat who will soon 18 old enough to vote yet still can’t have a drink she keeps complaining. Anyhow the pool old gal has some terrible arthritis and we are using a large cookie sheet for a litter tray and we have puppy pad under that for those days when her aim isn’t true. For a little old lady, she is still spunky and good at getting all the treats she demands and rightfully deserves. I hope this helps.

  27. I have a 15 year old cat with arthritis AND a huge problem with litter boxes. No matter how clean I keep the litter box or what litter I use, even potty pads, (he want use),. I’m constantly cleaning his paws of litter that gets in between his pads and sometimes his fur on his belly. Please, any ideas? Does anyone else have this issue?

    • I, too, have an older cat and had the same problem with litter sticking in her paws. I’m using the litter made from recycled paper, that doesn’t stick to her. It doesn’t clump, but I pick up the solid and change the pan every 2-3 days. Hope this helps

  28. About two years I found my dear senior gal stuck on the entrance of her litter box (tote box) she couldn’t get all the way in or out. So after helping her and lots of love and treats I took out a box cutter and whittled away the opening and made it much lower to the floor. It is frustrating that no one has made a litter box for seniors, high sides because they can’t squat and a low entrance. I do like the looks of the dog pan though. I think it would be easy enough to place a low entrance pan into a large tote that could catch the litter and accidents.

  29. What age do you recommend to get another cat for our 3 year old cat He is a Bengal and looking for another one.

    • There is no “right” age to get another cat. Try to match your resident’s cat’s personality as best as you can, and make sure you introduce the newcomer slowly and gradually.

  30. My recently (all too recently) angel kitty had arthritis of the spine. What I did for her was put her box into the closet of the master bedroom, since she decided the master bedroom was going to be her bedroom also. (She always came first as to choices!) Anyway, I put an extra high bread board next to her box, and kept the litter high so that she only had to step up a couple of inches onto the board, and then only a few inches over the side of the box. I kept towels down, so that each morning I was able to scrunch up the towel and all the excess litter went out the door. She always came to tell me when she used the box, so her box was kept immaculate.

  31. I have used the plastic storage containers for multiple cats for years. They say a cat has to be comfortable in their space and see outside of them for multiple cat households. My Tabbies have been larger cats so the storage containers worked well. My now 20 yr old 8 lb cat will no matter what box I use always go to her favorite one. Though I thought maybe it was hard for her she will walk through the shallower one to get to her favorite one…..Us humans though thoughtful know they get what they want!

  32. I’ve used the Petmate’s Booda Dome Cleanstep litter box with my sixteen year olds. It has steps are the entrance/exit, so that helps contain, and it’s covered, to avoid spillage. I’ve also gotten the large Rubbermaid ribs and cut lower holes, it just depends on what I think their needing

  33. I have found the So Phresh x-large litter box at Petco to be a favorite with my senior arthritic cats. It is x-large and low to the ground for them. This is without the rim or hood. What litter comes out is according to how much is in the box and how much they use to cover their deposit. I don’t know if I was not supposed to mention the brand, but it works.

  34. Both of my cats are “kick and scatter” pro’s. I took some shipping / packing cartons, cut off two sides, and put them under and around three sides of the litter boxes to raise the sides. They can still see over the top, and jump over the top, but a large amount of scatter is caught. The outside boxes do not need to sit flush to the litter box.

  35. Our older cat was already a senior when we adopted him, so we were aware from the beginning that a lower sided box would be helpful.

    We were using an extra large concrete mixer pan from our local hardware store. While unattractive, it is gigantic, low sides and extremely heavy duty plastic. There was some litter kick out, but not as much as one would think. We kept litter pads underneath to avoid litter getting tracked into the house.

    The one we had lasted nearly 3 years. We’ve moved onto another type which isn’t as large but does have a lower cut out in the front. The only reason we didn’t go back to the construction pan was it really was too large for our bathroom but I’d consider it again.

  36. These are some great ideas. Right now my senior guy is still able to get in the box with no problem, but I have just regular size boxes. i ill definitely keep these ideas in mind when he starts showing problems getting in the box.

  37. I use a boot tray for my “wobbler kitty”. They have little nubs on the bottom where water would drain from boots and such but these nubs give my kitty a little traction to help her keep her balance. I think it would work for older kitties just as well.

    • I used a boot tray underneath the box to collect litter and any other spillage. They’re great. Mine doesn’t have holes.

  38. Thank-you for providing such good, useful feline information to your readers. I have referred several clients to your site. One tip I give my clients (who have senior kitties) is to use baking pans or cookie sheets. Something their senior can literally walk onto. Seniors don’t need a lot of litter – usually they have a hard time digging anyway – so the pan does not need to be covered wall-to-wall with litter. But lining it with newspaper & then just putting a couple cups of litter will help stimulate their natural scratching ability & help with absorbtion, cleaning & odor control.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.