Do Outdoor Cats Need A Litter Box?

Do Outdoor Cats Need A Litter Box?

Allowing your cat to go outdoors can be beneficial for them. They can explore wide spaces, scratch at any tree they want to and be able to explore various smells, sights and experiences. It also allows them to enjoy more physical activities like climbing, running and jumping. If you are debating as to whether your outdoor cat needs a litter box or not, do read on as we discuss the subject in detail.

Do outdoor cats need a litter box?

No, outdoor cats do not need a litter box because they can easily do their business in any area where there is loose dirt as it allows them to bury their waste. They are also able to choose particular spots and mark them as their territories to deter other cats from getting near. However, problems may arise if your outdoor cat poops or pees in your flower beds, garden, your child’s play area or if they venture into your neighbor’s yard.

Reasons why you may want a litter box for your outdoor cat

These are the reasons why you may consider a litter box for your outdoor cat:

1. Your cat does not want to go outside because of bad weather. 

Bad or rainy weather deters cats from going outdoors. During such times, a litter box is necessary. Although outdoor cats are usually provided with outdoor cat houses, the freezing temperature may not be ideal at which point they should stay inside the home.

2. They are injured or not feeling well. 

Sometimes your outdoor cat may opt to stay inside the home due to injury or sickness. If this is so, you should provide a litter box for them so they can still do her business with ease.

3. They are afraid of another animal and opt to stay inside the home.

It is unlikely for outdoor cats to shun the adventure that the outdoors provide, but sometimes they may be driven inside by fear due to another animal. It could be a dog or wild animals like foxes or bears. They could be avoiding getting involved in a fight and that might why they opt to stay inside the home. 

4. Your cat is getting older. 

As cats grow older they become more mellow and tend to be less active. Since they tend to feel the onset of aging they may have a diminished interest in exploring the great outdoors. Elder cats tend to stay home more often so you have to provide them with a litter box that they can  access easily anytime.

5. You do not want to clean after your outdoor cat’s waste in your garden or yard. 

Outdoor cats have the great outdoors all to themselves and they can do their business in any spot they fancy to. This can be a predicament if the spot they choose is your garden or yard.  By providing a litter box for your outdoor cat, it can reduce the amount of poop that they tend to leave anywhere. Also, your plants are less likely to be uprooted from all the digging if you provide a litter box for them. 

6. To avoid getting complaints from neighbors. 

Allowing your cat to go outdoors means they could venture to other people’s yards and may take care of their business in a particular area there.  This could lead to altercations with your neighbors, especially if they are not cat-friendly ones. Providing a litter box for your outdoor cat can help prevent problems with your neighbors. 

7. You can sometimes spot symptoms of illness through your cat’s poop. 

Having a litter box for your outdoor cat can help you spot warning signals, such as diarrhea or a worm infestation. You can easily spot it each time you scoop your cat’s poop in the litter box. This will allow you to have your cat checked at the earliest opportunity to avoid any further complications. 

Disadvantages of providing a litter box for your outdoor cat 

While there are benefits of providing your outdoor cat a litter box, there are also disadvantages. Here are some of them:

It means more work for you.

You have to clean the litter box, refill the litter regularly and see to it that you wash the litter box weekly. If you are a busy person juggling work and family, it could be a major hassle.

It is more pricey. 

Litter box essentials include purchasing litter and other supplies like litter mats and liners. This can take a toll on your budget as opposed to allowing your outdoor cat to do their business anywhere they want. 

It is less environment-friendly due to the litter used. 

Although there are organic types of litter, most kinds are less environment-friendly.  Plastic bags are also used to store the soiled litter and a complex process is involved before you can acquire litter from commercial sources.  All of these need not be a concern if you simply allow your outdoor cat to use the great outdoors as their bathroom. 

Your outdoor cat may not even bother to use the litter box. 

Providing your outdoor cat with a litter box may not work at all, as most cats won’t bother to use it. The great outdoors beckon and there are wide spaces and endless spots for your cat to choose from. 


Outdoor cats enjoy more freedom and endless adventure compared to indoor ones. They get to explore the outside world, tend to be more active and able to experience various sights, sounds, scents and textures. They do not need a litter box because any convenient spot is a suitable restroom. However,  you may have to consider providing your outdoor cat with a litter box if there is bad weather, they are sick or elderly, and to avoid altercations with your neighbors.

Image: / Christopher Freeman