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If you own a cat or indeed more than one cat, then you will likely have at least one type of cat litter box.
One cleaning option that you also have is the option to place a liner inside your cat litter box.
We get asked a lot of questions here at IncredibleKitty.com (formally CatHygieneAdvice.com), and one of those is “Should you use liners in your cat litter box?”.
The short and simple answer is yes it is a good idea, and especially if you use a non-clumping type of cat litter. With other types of litter a liner may be a good option, but not really that important.
Below I go into both the pros and cons of using a cat litter box liner. That way you can make your own mind up if you want to use one of these.
Why Consider Using a Liner?
The liner when placed in the bottom of a cat litter box is simply to intend to make the litter box easier to clean. The liner is placed into the litter box and the cat litter is then poured on top of the liner.
When it comes to completely changing out your cat litter, the liner will have kept the bottom of the box from becoming damp, and that avoids wet litter sticking to the bottom and the sides of the box.
Most plastic cat litter liners then have a drawstring which can be pulled, and the litter and liner can be removed as one unit from the litter box. Some liners don’t have these of course and it is then a matter of lifting it all out and tying a knot in the top of the liner.
It is always better to buy ones with a sturdy drawstring, as they simply make your life a great deal easier. The box will of course still need to be properly washed and dried, but the liner will have made the clean up job a great deal easier.
You can watch an example of this in the video below:
Why do some Cat Owners Use a Liner?
The first thing I would like to point out is that your cat will not care whether there is a liner in there or not. They go to the litter box to do one or two things, or maybe even both at the same time. Only the most anxious of cats will get spooked by the rustle of the plastic liner.
Using a liner is really all about making life easier for you, when it comes to cleaning the litter. As you can see in the video above, in many cases the cat urine does soak through to the bottom of the litter, and will make a hard clump, if using a clumping litter.
Rather than trying to dig that out, it is easier to tug the liner and then scoop out the hardened lump. However that only applies if you are using a clumping litter. With non-clumping or crystal litters the technique shown above will not work at all.
For most cat owners though this is simply all about fitting a liner, changing the litter once every 1-2 weeks, lifting out the liner, dumping the old cat litter and setting it up again. That does make changing the cat litter fast and easy.
For the sake of convenience this method is probably the most efficient and cleanest method of taking care of a cat litter box.
Types of Litter Box Liners
There are a couple of types of liners available on the market:
- Plastic Liners – these are by far the most common and are simply a thick plastic bag that goes inside the litter box. This can then be lifted out, and closed using some form of drawstring and then put straight into the garbage.
- Sifting liners – these are not as popular, but they work on the principle of still lining the box but the good litter can be sifted out and back into the box to be used again. The liner is still a plastic bag, but with perforated holes in them. I cover those off in more detail later in this article.
The vast majority of liners that are sold are the first plastic liner type, as cat owners simply want a fast and efficient method of cleaning out their cat litter box.
Approximate Cost of Good Litter Box Liners
Before considering a purchase of these, it is always a really good idea to get an approximate idea of the costs involved. On average a single good quality liner costs around $0.50-0.60 per liner. Typically these come in packs of 5 or more. So for a 5 pack, expect to pay around $2.50-3.00.
So if you changed the liner completely once a week, the annual cost would be around $30. Now that we have a handle on the costs, let’s have a closer look at why you might consider buying these.
The Main Disadvantages of Cat Liners
For many people these are highly problematic. It is fair to say that the huge majority of cat owners can simply not be bothered with using these. There are a few reasons for this which I have listed below:
- They can rip and tear – this very much depends on the quality of the liner and also on the strength of the seams. Cat litter is heavy enough on its own, but when it gets wet it gets even heavier
- Difficult to find the right fit – Unless the manufacturer makes a liner specifically for the litter box, finding a good fit can be just a matter of trial and error – advice offered below
- Air pockets – When you are placing the liner into the box, air pockets can easily be created. It does take patience to fit a liner, then pour the litter in, continue to get rid of the air bubbles and end up with a properly lined litter box
- Coming away from the sides – Some cats will manage to dislodge the liner especially around the top and at the sides. That can get annoying but in reality it can be put back on in just a few seconds
This is the proper way to fit a cat litter liner
Common Mistakes When Fitting a Cat Litter Box Liner
The disadvantages I have shown above are caused by one of two things:
- Buying low quality liners which will tear under weight, or the drawstring will tear under weight
- Using the wrong size or fitting them into the box using the wrong method
On the first point just avoid buying really cheap thin liners. A cat’s claws will easily rip through these and they will never hold the weight of damp litter when it comes to removing them.
In my opinion they are quite literally a waste of money, and even though they are not expensive, it is just money down the proverbial drain. They will also just cause you a lot of needless frustration.
Don’t use plastic bags that you may get from the grocery store. These are almost always far too thin and usually never a proper fit. So many cat owners have tried this to save some money, but I have yet to talk with anyone where these types of bags have worked.
Measure your box and make sure the liner fits your box along the bottom and also for up the sides with about a 1-2″ overlap to tuck in around the edges. This is especially important if you own a high sided litter box. Usually these are top entry litter boxes.
Many cat owners simply place these on the bottom of the box and then pour the litter in. Unfortunately that does nothing to prevent the litter from sticking to the sides of the box. The entire box should be lined for the best results.
Overall, cat litter liners can be a very hygienic way for looking after your litter box. You can also save a lot of time, as you can just throw the litter liner away after 1-2 weeks of changing the litter.
Take a look at our best cat litter liners here.