How to Dog Proof the Cat's Litterbox

Three Methods:Restricting Access to the Litter BoxTaking Away OpportunitiesDeterring Your Dog

As anyone with cats and dogs will tell you, it's not uncommon for dogs to try to eat out of a cat's litter box. The main reason for this is that cat food has a high protein content, and cats don't always digest all of the protein.[1] Dogs see it as a tasty treat, but it can cause nausea or diarrhea in your dog, and it may scare your cat away from the litter box. Finding ways to keep your dog out of the cat's litter will help foster a better home environment for both cats and dogs.

Method 1
Restricting Access to the Litter Box

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    Set up a baby gate. One easy way to keep a dog out of the litter box is to put the box in a room or closet and use a baby gate to block access. If your cat can jump fairly easily, he'll be able to make it over the gate. If your cat cannot jump, set the gate up in the doorway a few inches off the floor so that your cat can crawl under.[2]
    • Setting a baby gate a few inches off the floor will only work if your cat is significantly smaller than your dog.
    • If your dog is roughly the same size as your cat and could get under the gate, try setting up the gate at floor level and leave a box, stool, or chair next to the gate so your cat can hop over.
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    Try elevating the box. Another easy solution is to set up your cat's litter box someplace your dog cannot access. This will ensure that your dog cannot physically get to the cat's stool, but it's not a guaranteed solution. You'll need to make sure that your dog is not a strong jumper or tall enough to simply stand on his hind legs and access the box.[3]
    • Make sure your cat can access the litter box if you do try to elevate it.
    • If your cat is old or incapacitated, this plan may not work.
    • Try putting a chair, stool, or cat tree next to the table or counter where you've elevated the litter box. That way your cat can climb up to the box with greater ease.
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    Install a cat door. If you can't keep your dog away from the litter box, try installing a cat door into an existing door. You can set the cat's litter box up in a spare bedroom, bathroom, or closet, and after installing the cat door you'll be able to leave the regular door shut.[4]
    • The cat door, much like a baby gate, works best if your dog is too large to fit through the opening.
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    Put a chain on a door. A door chain is similar to the cat door, except it doesn't require cutting into your door. Simply drill and install a door chain that's long enough to let your cat fit through an ajar door, yet short enough that your dog won't be able to fit his body through the crack.[5]
    • Attach the chain to a hook outside the room so that you can get in and out with ease.
    • If the door won't stay ajar without closing, you may need to prop the door open while the chain is in use so your cat can still get in and out without being trapped.

Method 2
Taking Away Opportunities

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    Keep the litter box clean. It goes without saying that you'll need to clean the litter box regularly. But keeping an exceptionally clean litter box may help deter your dog's stool-seeking behavior by removing his "reward" from the litter box as soon as the cat's finished using it.[6]
    • Scoop the litter box on a daily basis, and try to wash out the box and change the litter as often as possible.
    • The sooner you can scoop after your cat has passed his waste, the easier it will be to keep your dog away from the box.
    • If you cannot scoop right away (like during the work week), consider investing in an electronic cat box. These litter boxes are fitted with a device that sweeps out feces shortly after your cat uses the box.
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    Buy a dog-proof litter box. There are a number of dog-proof litter boxes currently on the market. A basic model is the covered cat box, which comes with a special lid that fits over a regular litter box. The opening is big enough for a cat to climb in and out of the box, but restrictive enough that a dog cannot have access to anything beyond the threshold of the litter box.
    • Covered litter boxes work best when keeping medium to large dogs out. A smaller dog may be able to enter the litter box somewhat easily.
    • While a covered litter box can help keep your dog out, it also increases the odor by trapping it inside. You'll need to be extra vigilant at scooping and cleaning your litter box if you plan on keeping the lid on.[7]
    • Numerous other types of dog-proof boxes are available on the market. Some cat boxes are entered through the top, meaning only a cat can get in, no matter what size your dog is.[8]
    • Search around to find a litter box that works best for your cat while keeping your dog out.
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    Consider an invisible fence. A more extreme (and expensive) option is to set up an invisible fence around the cat's litter box. You'll simply keep the special color on your dog at all times, and any time he tries to get near the litter box he'll be stopped by a firm but harmless jolt from the collar.[9]
    • Invisible fences are generally safe for dogs, but many dog owners are not comfortable with the idea of shocking their pet. This is a personal choice that you will have to make, but other options can usually deter your dog without a shock collar.

Method 3
Deterring Your Dog

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    Teach your dog the "leave it" command. Leave it is an excellent command to teach any dog, no matter what you're trying to distract him from. The key to training your dog with the "leave it" command is to always offer your dog a tasty treat so that he is motivated to leave the stool (or any other object of your dog's attention) behind.[10]
    • Say "Leave it" to your dog while holding out a treat in your closed fist.
    • Let your dog sniff and lick at your closed hand so that he understands there is a treat inside.
    • After a few seconds, your dog will stop trying to get the treat and will probably sit in front of you.
    • Praise your dog and say, "Yes!"
    • Give your dog a treat from your other hand, keeping the original treat in your closed fist.
    • Keep practicing until your dog comes to learn and understand that saying "leave it" means he will get a treat if he's good.
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    Make cat stool less desirable. An easy way to deter your dog from eating cat feces is by making the stool less desirable for your dog. Some dog owners do this by altering the cat's diet so the stool is not as appetizing to a dog.
    • Some dog owners have success by mixing the cat's food with a food additive like monosodium glutamate (MSG).[11]
    • Other common additives include adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil or a spoonful of canned pumpkin to the cat's food.[12]
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    Give your dog other distractions. Some dogs resort to stool snacking out of boredom or for attention. If you believe this may be the case with your dog, try giving him tastier (and healthier) distractions.[13]
    • Peanut butter will keep your dog distracted and smacking his tongue for long periods of time.
    • A puzzle toy that contains a healthy treat can also be an effective distraction.
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    Try fitting your dog with a muzzle. As a last resort when all other training and deterring efforts have failed, you may need to consider muzzling your dog to physically prevent him from eating cat stool. The muzzle doesn't need to be the same type that is used for aggressive dogs. Some pet stores carry an elastic band meant to prevent dogs from snapping at other pets or eating things they're not supposed to.[14]


  • If you think your dog may have an intestinal parasite or other GI problems as a result of eating cat stool, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible to get a diagnosis.

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