Let’s face it. The area around your cat’s litter box is often surrounded by kitty litter debris no matter how often you sweep, vacuum, or clean. It sometimes feels like the mess is simply appearing out of thin air! To make matters worse, excess litter is often tracked throughout the rest of the home as your furry feline goes about their day. Whether spreading by kicking or simply because cat litter has become trapped under the paws, no room in the house can feel safe from cat litter debris sometimes.
Many cat owners simply keep the litterbox in a designated area within the home such as a basement or a room with a floor that is easy to clean (such as tile or vinyl). Some will use a small rug or carpet to help try and offset any litter box mess. Oftentimes though, the litterbox sits alone in a corner and surprisingly, many cat owners are not aware that litter box mats even exist and how these mats can make a world of difference when it comes to keeping your kitty’s litter box area clean and tidy.
There are many different types of cat litter mats available out there, each with its own pros and cons. In this article, we’re going to focus on the criteria that we believe makes the best cat litter mat based on our own personal experience and in collaboration with other cat owners such as yourself.
Step 1: Review the Different Types of Cat Litter Mats
The first step to finding the best cat litter mat is to explore which ones are available and which will be best suited to your needs. While there are several different options out there, not all of them perform the same. Depending on which one you choose, there are quite a few notable differences in terms of quality, functionality, and longevity.
Below are some of the most common choices.
Basic Carpet or Rug
These don’t even necessarily need to be designed exclusively as a cat litter box mat, however, they can provide functionality in terms of reducing kitty litter spread and simplifying the cleaning process using a vacuum.
Small carpets or rugs like this can easily be found at most major department stores or on Amazon. Whether you’re looking for an actual kitty litter rug or just a generic one, be sure to find one with short material fibers. Longer fibers trap more debris and while this might seem like a good thing at first, it actually makes these rugs harder to vacuum as these longer threads can get caught in the vacuum, which risks damaging your vacuum cleaner or pulling the threads out of the carpet.
Moral of the story: go for the rugs with shorter and denser material fibers.
Pros and Cons of Using a Basic Carpet or Rug
Silicone or Rubber Mats
These types of mats are made with a harder, stronger, or more robust material. They are often non-slip in design which helps prevent them from moving from place and many contain indents or grooves which help capture excess cat litter and trap liquids.
Certainly, these are a step up from basic carpets or rugs. Not only do they stay in place better, but they also trap kitty litter debris and especially liquids much more effectively. Most notably, the mats with grooves and indents are most effective at this, particularly when it comes to trapping liquids, as it helps to prevent overflow onto the surrounding area. Also, because of the material, they are usually waterproof and therefore much easier to wipe or wash clean than basic carpets or rugs and don’t risk permanent staining.
When choosing a silicone or rubber mat, be sure to look for ones that are waterproof, contain grooves for catching excess debris and liquid, are easy to clean, and are non-slip.
Pros and Cons of Using Silicone or Rubber Mats
Cat Litter Trapper Mats
While sometimes slightly more pricey out of the three mentioned here, cat litter trapper mats are worth every penny in our opinion. Not only do they have many of the same benefits as the silicone and rubber mats but they have one brilliant and distinct feature that sets them apart from the rest:
They actually catch and trap excess cat litter in a way that is super convenient and easy to clean.
These mats function exactly as they sound. When placed next to the litter box, cat litter that is either kicked upwards or remains trapped on the paws is caught on the mat which contains a series of small holes. The excess litter then falls through these holes and remains trapped between the top and bottom layers, where it can be easily discarded or reused simply by opening the mat and dumping out the collected litter.
Another strong advantage to these mats is that they often contain a water-resistant bottom layer that repels cat urine and other liquids. Unlike cat carpets or rugs, this prevents any unwanted smells from soaking into the material and makes cleaning a breeze.
There are several ways in which these mats can be cleaned. They can easily be wiped down, vacuumed, hand-washed, or hosed down and hung to dry. Similar to silicone and rubber versions, these trapper mats are often made with a durable and flexible material. Most commonly you’ll often see them crafted with EVA foam rubber, which makes the cleaning process effortless compared with traditional mats or worse, no mat at all. Not to mention the benefits of the non-slip factor.
While there are a few different versions of cat litter trapper mats out there, not all are created equal. Some are made with a harder plastic-like material which can often be quite uncomfortable on your cat’s paws. Additionally, while all trapper mats have holes to catch the excess litter, some are more effective than others due to their size and design.
Some have simple small oval openings which can work alright for many traditional forms of litter that contain small grains, however, larger litter types such as pellets or Pretty Litter may have trouble collecting due to their size.
Trapper mats that contain many small openings for the litter to fall through but remain flat across the top surface are far less effective than those with an elevated design. We highly recommend finding a trapper mat that has holes large enough to catch the litter type you use and also features tiny elevated bumps, as these will help to catch and trap the excess litter far more effectively.
Honeycomb-shaped holes with small elevated tips typically work the best as not only do these raised tips catch up 90% more litter than those without, but they also help clean excess litter from your cat’s paws with their unique design.
Additionally, the larger honeycomb-shaped holes more effectively catch and trap litter with larger grains or crystals such as Pretty Litter. Plus, we also find the honeycomb design more visually appealing than other mats.
Some trapper mats are made with mixed materials and contain a strong chemical scent, which is often prolonged or fails to dissipate entirely. This can off-put your cat from using the mat due to the strong smell.
When looking for the right trapper mat, try to find one that is relatively odorless, is crafted with eco and pet-friendly materials, is durable, and has a honeycomb design with elevated tips to help keep your cat’s paws clean and catch excess litter more effectively.
Pros and Cons of Using Litter Trapper Mats
Step 2: Decide Which Mat Is Best Based on the Cat Litter You Use
Depending on the kitty litter you prefer to use, this can impact your decision on choosing the best cat litter mat.
If you’re using traditional cat litter which is often in small grains, a simple short fiber rug or mat may suffice in getting the job done. For cats who are messier or are prone to urinating outside the litter box, a silicone or rubber waterproof mat might be best. If using pellets, litter composed of larger grains, or Pretty Litter which uses small crystals, a trapper mat is likely the best.
Cat litter trapper mats work with almost every type of kitty litter and because they are so much more effective at catching and preventing litter spread than all other styles of mats, this makes them an easy choice as the best type of cat litter mat. Combine this with their durability, flexibility, and how easy they are to clean and it’s clear why trapper mats outperform the others.
Step 3: Decide Which Features Are Most Important to You
Different mats offer different features so when deciding which is best for you, consider the current challenges you’ve faced in relation to your cat's litter box and litter habits to make an informed decision. Some of the features we discussed previously include:
- Non-slip design
- Water-resitant materials
- Comfortability for your cats’ paws
- Ease of cleaning and maintenance
- Cleaning methods available depending on the mat
- Ability to catch or prevent the spread of excess litter
- Durability, flexibility, and lasting use
- Size, clunkiness, and aesthetic of the mat
- Mat material and odor
While there are several different types of cat litter mats to choose from, the best one will ultimately need to be determined based on the unique needs of your feline friend and the challenges you face in terms of cleaning and maintenance.
While pet ownership brings us immense joy and companionship, it also brings its fair share of work. Time is precious and there are only so many hours in the day. Finding a cat litter mat that is going to make your life easier and reduce the time it takes to tend to your cat’s litter box area will help provide greater freedom and flexibility as you go through your day.
Interested in our recommended cat litter trapper mat? We’ve personally tested this one out against all the criteria available and it has been declared the clear winner.
Looking to upgrade your kitty litter to something that is dust-free and more odorless than traditional cat litter? Look no further than Pretty Litter. Its crystal-style litter changes color when used to indicate the health of your cat.
A few downsides though: It's non-absorbent, the crystals are not biodegradable, and some cats simply don't like it.
The health of our pets is what is most important and we here at Shadow Meow are transparent about the products we sell or endorse. Please review Pretty Litter for yourself before deciding on a purchase.