The idea of traveling with a cat may seem fun and glamorous (see photo below).
But if you experienced it, you know it’s not.
Compared to dogs, cats tend to hate car rides and other forms of travel. They are not really domesticated animals and have retained many wild traits. One of them is being territorial. To cats, traveling means disrupting their routine and moving away from their usual places and smells. That’s why, when they see everything move away during a car ride, they start letting you know that they are not happy.
Having said that, traveling with your cat may be necessary sometimes. When it is, you want to make sure to be prepared, so that you can avoid any inconvenient surprises.
Part of preparation involves making sure that your cat has a place to “go” if she needs to. Indeed, providing a comfortable litter box in any situation is one of your main duties as a cat parent.
In this guide, you will learn about the benefits and main features of travel litter boxes. We also go over some general tips on traveling with your cat and explain which litter boxes are more suited for car vs. air travel. Finally, I will review my favorite five portable litter boxes
- Kitty’s WonderBox Disposable Litter Box (also available on Chewy.com!)
- Litter Genie Cat Litter Box (also available on Chewy.com!)
- PetSafe Disposable Litter Box (also available on Chewy.com!)
- Pet Fit for Life Portable Cat Litter Box (also available on Chewy.com!)
- Pet Fit For Life Portable Cat Condo with Litter Box
I hope that this will help you choose the right portable litter box and have a good time during your trip.
Why Should I Buy A Travel Litter Box?
It is clear that if you are going to travel for more than an hour or so with your cat, at some point, she will feel the need to “use the restroom”. When she does, you don’t want to be unprepared.
That would only cause your beloved cat to be uncomfortable. You’d also risk having her pee (or worse, poop) in an undesired location (think of your car seat for example).
That’s when a travel litter box comes in. It will help you to:
- make your cat comfortable, letting her know that she has a safe place to release
- have a convenient place for your cat to “go” during a road trip, on the plane, or in a hotel room.
- keep your cat’s litter is one place during travels
- train your cat for travel well in advance of the actual trip
What to Look for In Travel Litter Boxes
There are several travel litter boxes in the market. Some can be very different from others and may be indicated for different forms of travel. However, there are some “universal” attributes that are important no matter what kind of trip you are going on:
- Ease of access: As much as possible, you should go for a box that cats can enter and exit with little or no effort. If covered, the litter box should have a spacious door that will not make them feel trapped.
- Comfort: Travel times can be stressful for cats, so it’s best to choose a spacious box to make them feel at home.
- Ease of setup: Travelling can be frenetic and stressful (even for us humans). So it’s always good to shop for a travel litter box that’s super quick to put together. That way, you’ll be faster and less stressed when helping your cat use the restroom.
Disposable Litter Box vs Collapsible
There are two different types of portable litter boxes: disposable and collapsible.
Disposable litter boxes tend to be more convenient. You can usually use them for up to 3-4 weeks, and then simply discard them. They are usually biodegradable. The issue with disposable litter boxes is that they can take some space, especially for plane trips and if you packed really tight. If you have a large carrier that can fit it, that won’t be a problem though.
However, in some travel situations, you might not be able to keep the litter box open for most of the trip. That’s why having a collapsible litter box can be extremely valuable, particularly if you are traveling by plane. You can simply fold them when you don’t need them.
The drawback of collapsible litter boxes is that they will need to be washed every now and then. Here, ideally, you could look for those that are machine washable to make your job easier. You can also use some liners though to prevent the box itself from getting dirty at all.
If you are looking for maximum convenience, there are some travel litter boxes that are both collapsible and disposable. The PetSafe Disposable Litter Box is an example, which we also reviewed below.
We will write a more detailed article on the differences between traveling by car and by plane. While below, we give some general preparation tips that can help you help your cat before and during a trip.
Preparing for the trip
Whether you are traveling by car or plane, it is likely going to be stressful for your cat. So it is good to take some steps before the trip to get your cat used to, and comfortable with the objects he will use while traveling.
If you want to hear cat expert Jason Galaxy talk about how to prepare to travel with cats, make sure to check out this video.
If you plan in advance, you can help your cat familiarize with your car, the carrier, and the travel litter box. Doing so will reduce the stress involved with traveling, as the cat will at least have some familiar objects to relate to. You can even create positive associations with them.
Here are some practical things you can do:
Introduce the Cat Carrier Early
1. Help your cat familiarize with the carrier
a) Simply place the cat carrier in your house and let your cat explore it, get inside, climb it, etc..
2. Make it cozy and attractive
a) Put some toys, blankets, and even some treats inside the carrier. That will encourage the cat to see it as a safe, relaxing place.
These simple steps will make it easier for your cat to get inside the carrier and feel calmer when the moment of the trip arrives.
Introduce the travel box
In a similar fashion, you can get your cat comfortable with her portable litter box well before the trip. You can do so by placing the travel cat litter box in your house as a second litter box. That way, your cat will have the chance to jump in it, smell it, and explore it while in a calm state (rather than while stressed about the trip).
Introduce the car
Finally, if you are planning to travel by car, you can do the same thing there. Let your cat explore and play in the car while not moving and give her a treat afterward. You can do so on a few separate occasions. Then you can gradually get her used to be in the car while the motor is on, and eventually getting the car moving for short (increasing) distances.
How and When to Use a Travel Litter Box
There is no single best way to use a portable litter box. Mostly because the way to use it will vary depending on your method of travel and your cat’s needs.
It is usually recommended to have your cat inside a cat carrier whether you are traveling by car or plane.
If you are traveling without stopping for a long time, or if you know that your cat may need to “go” often, you should pick a litter box that can fit inside your carrier. That will allow your cat to use the restroom at any time. However, that might not always be possible, especially if the carrier is not big enough to house your cat and the litter box. In that case, it is usually recommended to do some “potty stops” and set up the litterbox every few hours or so.
If you are traveling by car you’ll have the freedom to stop when you want and let your cat do her things while not moving.
If you are traveling by plane, instead, you can let your cat go before and after the flight. I found the large “family restrooms” in airports to be very comfortable for this and to let your cat stretch out.
Ok, enough with the preparation, let’s dive into the Best Travel Litter Boxes that we found on the market.
The Five Best Cat Travel Litter Boxes
Best Disposable Litter Box (non-collapsible)
If you are looking for a disposable travel litter box, this might be a great choice. The walls are quite low, making it easy for your cat to go in and out.
The material is surprisingly durable, allowing usage for up to 4 weeks (according to the manufacturer).
If you need something convenient that you won’t have to wash and will last for a good time, the 3-count disposable litter box from Kitty’s WonderBox is game.
Since this litter box is not collapsible, unless it fits inside your carrier, it won’t be a good option for air travel.
Litter Genie Cat
Most versatile Travel Litter Box
Litter Genie was not devised specifically as travel litter box, but if you are traveling by car, you may find it as a great option. It boasts an innovative design that makes it comfortable for your cat and easy to carry around.
Thanks to its handles, the litterbox can also serve to store and transport the cat’s travel stuff.
Litter Genie is made of a flexible plastic material that makes it easy to fit in small places, such as under a seat. If you are planning to fit the box inside a cat carrier though, this is probably not your best choice, as it is quite tall.
Otherwise, it’s great to fit it inside the car and let your cat use it during stops, in your hotel room, or wherever you are staying.
Best Collapsible and Disposable Litter Box
Here’s another disposable option for those seeking more convenience. What makes this great is that it is both disposable and collapsible. You can easily pop it up into a full-sized, travel litter box in minutes.
On top of that, your purchase includes ScoopFree Crystal Litter, saving you money on litter. This box also comes with 8 disposable scoops, which come in very handy while traveling.
While the other disposable box that we reviewed above was totally open, this one is covered. This will prevent tracking and provide a protected space for your cat to relax. At the same time, during a trip, some cats may be stressed and may not feel safe getting inside a small box. For some cats, an open box may be easier to use.
Depending on your cat’s preferences you probably know which one will be a better fit.
If you are planning to fit the litter box inside your carrier, you should carefully check the dimensions. This box seems to be quite tall and might not fit in all carriers.
Best travel Litter Box to fit inside a carrier
If you have to travel by air or you are planning to keep the litter box inside a carrier, this is a great option. This lightweight, collapsible litter box measures 16x 12x 5 inches when open and collapses into a 6’ by 8’ little package.
This box is made from quality nylon fabric, so it is durable and good to use for several trips, even if your cat likes to dig.
Pet Fit is so confident of the quality of its products that it backs them all up with a 100% money-back guarantee. So if you are not happy with your purchase, you can let them know and get your money back.
These types of boxes are usually most convenient when combined with liners, that removes any hassle that would come from having to clean it.
Best cat carrier with portable litter box
If you do not have a cat carrier yet and are looking for a single package to get your carrier and litter box, this is the best we found. It comes in two sizes, but only the large one includes the litter box, so that’s the size that we’ll focus on here.
This carrier is not specifically designed for airplanes, but it is a great option if you are planning to do a road trip. The inside is very spacious, large enough for two grown cats or for a cat and the litter box. The included litter box is the exact same as the one that we reviewed above.
Also for this product, Pet Fit includes a 100% money-back guarantee. That way you can feel safer when making the purchase. Other than the litterbox, there’s a set of other useful travel tools included. A collapsible food/water bowl, a floor pad to make your cat more comfortable, and a set of two toys.
No winner this time?
We found it impossible to pick a winner among all the travel litter boxes we reviewed. The reason is that depending on your way of traveling you (and your cat) will have very different needs. For this reason, the recommendation would vary depending on your needs. Feel free to drop a comment below or email me at [email protected] if you want some advice specific to your situation. I’ll be happy to try to help as best as I can.
How to travel with a Cat, subtitle 1. Pippa Elliot (MRCVS) et al, updated May 9, 2020. wikiHow Website https://www.wikihow.com/Travel-with-a-Cat
How many litter boxes does a cat need? Jason Nicholas (BVetMed), Sept. 13, 2016. The Preventive Vet Website https://www.preventivevet.com/cats/how-many-litter-boxes-does-a-cat-need
The Humane Society of the US, subtitle 2. Humane Society Website. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/travel-safely-your-pet-car-airplane-ship-or-train