There are many different kinds of litter boxes and bedding options out there that are suitable for rabbits, but (as with everything else that goes on in our households) our rabbit will ultimately decide which one is best. Here is a list of the most common ones out there and their pros and cons. If you are using a different litter box or bedding and swear by it, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Corner Litter Box/Corner Litter Pan
This type of litter box was designed to take up as little space as possible. It fits well into any housing situation and the high back is beneficial for rabbits that like to push their bottoms into a corner while doing their business – urine will most likely go where it’s supposed to. While being space efficient can be a plus, in this case it’s also a drawback. Most of the time, one rabbits fits into the litter box and nothing else. No hay, no second rabbit (if you have one). Our Bunny likes to eat hay while sitting in his box, so the corner toilet was never a good option for us. These litter boxes also tend to be full quickly, so they have to be cleaned more often than others.
Litter Box/Litter Pan
There are many variations of this kind of litter box – even igloos. The basic version is just a plain rectangular plastic pan with short side walls. They are incredibly cheap, easy to clean, and a favorite for many rabbits, because they can do their business and still see everything that is going on around them. There is plenty of space for hay and since they vary in size, can easily accommodate more than one rabbit. The drawback is that every time the rabbit hops out, it’s almost unavoidable that some poop and litter gets flicked out accidentally, so the area around these litter boxes often has to be cleaned frequently.
In order to avoid that, you can pick a litter box with side walls or a closed top. The rabbit needs to hop out more carefully and a lot of the litter that gets flicked around still stays inside the box. Only now the rabbit cannot easily see what is going on in the room and they may feel trapped. Since rabbits are prey animals, they like to be aware of their surroundings at all times or have at least 2 exits in whatever cave-like structure they are hiding. Most of these litter boxes were made with a cat in mind, so they often only have one exit. A rabbit may not want to use these litter boxes (but it depends on their personality). Also, depending on the rabbit, hay placed on one side of the litter box might get soiled easily.
Litter Box with Hay Rack
As mentioned before, most rabbits like to eat hay while doing their business. Placing the hay directly inside the litter box often results in spoiled hay, though, because the rabbit might pee on it (by accident or on purpose). Many higher end litter boxes for rabbits come with a hay rack attached. They work well, because the hay is within reach, but doesn’t come in contact of the rabbit’s urine and poop. The rabbit can munch as much as they like and none of their litter box space gets taken up by food. The only drawbacks are that these boxes are often made of unfinished wood. If urine gets on it by accident, there’s not much you can do except replace it, which can be costly. Also, since the walls are low, litter might get flicked around when the rabbit hops out. A great solution to this would be to pick one of the plastic litter boxes and place them in front of a hay rack or other hay dispenser.
Litter Box/Cage with Wire Floor
Unfortunately, there are still litter boxes and cages with wire floors out there. The benefit if these is that they are easy to clean and require very little effort on the human’s part. The rabbit sits on the wire and urine and feces fall down into a tray. The human can now pull the tray out and clean it; the rabbit doesn’t have to sit in it.
The reason why such a set-up is not acceptable at all (apart from the fact that such a cage is way too small), is that it hurts the rabbit’s feet and can cause sores and infections. These floors are also completely uncomfortable and encourage the rabbit to sit and lie in unnatural positions to relieve the pressure.
Litter Box with Screen or Plastic Grate
Some litter boxes come with smooth plastic grates similar to the ones found in the kitchen. You can also purchase screens that can be placed inside the plastic litter boxes mentioned above. They don’t irritate the paws and reduce the amount of litter waste. Urine flows through the grate and gets absorbed by the bedding, poop stays on top to be easily discarded or collected as fertilizer. Rabbits that love to dig in their litter boxes or eat their bedding are prevented from doing so. The drawbacks are that poop might still get flung around when the rabbit hops out. We have never tried these litter boxes before, but heard that urine may clog up the grate after a while and cleaning it becomes way more laborious than regular cleaning would have been. It’s a good idea to get one of these with the grate going all the way to the sides so urine can’t pool up in the corners.
Litter Boxes for Senior or Disabled Rabbits
All of the previously mentioned litter box options assume that the rabbit can jump over the sides easily. That is not always the case. Senior or disabled rabbits might need a litter box that can be entered without having to jump. Unfortunately, the options are limited. Even a search for “senior” or “geriatric” litter boxes for rabbits/cats won’t bring much of a result. There are trays meant for potting or protecting surfaces that will do the trick, though! Our Bailey has issues with her hind legs and required a special litter box. We chose the potting tray by Argee and it works well.
Both pine and cedar are not recommended as suitable bedding, because they are connected with respiratory issues and liver damage in small animals. Unfortunately, they are still widely available, though. Aspen shavings are okay to use. The benefits of all three is that they are cheap, available in almost any grocery store, and absorbent. The disadvantages are that the shavings do very little to control the odor of urine and often stick to the rabbit’s fur only to be tracked all over the house. They quickly turn into a wet mess and need to be replaced often.
Carefresh is the most known brand of bedding made from “all natural cellulose fibers”. It’s generally brown, but comes in other colors as well. It’s very absorbent, safe for small animals, controls odor well, and doesn’t stick to fur. Unfortunately, it is also rather expensive and only available in pet stores. There are cheaper knock-off brands available, for example Critter Care Natural at Walmart. We also like the National Geographic brand. Carefresh has recently changed their formula to include baking soda, which can be harmful to rabbits and smells bad, too. Hopefully, they will re-think their decision in the future.
Using newspaper or shredded paper in a rabbit’s litter box is a cheap option that works well for some people. If the rabbit eats the paper, blockage can occur which can be fatal and/or expensive to treat. Paper doesn’t control odors well and needs to be replaced frequently.
Yesterday’s News/Paper Pellets
Yesterday’s News is an all “natural, non-toxic, virtually dust-free, and highly absorbent, so they make great bedding material” for rabbits. The good thing is, it’s available in most grocery stores in the cat section. It can also be composted. We have not used this product before, but heard that it doesn’t control odors as well as Carefresh and that it can be difficult to scoop out only the soiled parts.
Wood Stove Pellets
Hardwood Stove Pellets that do not contain chemicals (such as accelerants that speed up the process of lighting them) are a safe option for rabbits. They are cheap, available in home improvement stores and grocery stores (especially during the winter months), and absorb odors and fluids well.
Cat Litter/Clumping Litter
Cat Litter is not recommended for rabbits. If ingested, it clumps up inside the digestive system and can be fatal. Also, it smells terrible anyway (but maybe that’s just our personal opinion).
Corn Cob Litter
While corn cob litter absorbs urine well enough, it is small, lightweight, and will be tracked all over the house. Having small, hard pieces of corn everywhere has turned us against it pretty much immediately. Also, some vets recommend not to use this kind of litter, because it may cause blockage when ingested.
Clay litter is not recommended for rabbits. It’s very dusty and can cause respiratory issues. Ingesting it could also be fatal.
We hope this article helps you make a good selection for you and your rabbit. And if you were wondering what we use, here you go. The first picture shows our old set-up when we only had Bunny. We had Critter Care bedding (without baking soda) and added Timothy hay to one side of the litter box. Bunny only peed/pooped in the one spot and we added a handful of bedding to that spot once or twice a day, so he didn’t have to sit in it. We cleaned the box every 5-6 days completely. The second picture shows our current set-up. Bailey can’t jump, so we now have a potting tray. An old baby gate serves as a temporary holder for the hay rack, but once we move again there will be a more permanent solution. The tray is lined with a washable pee pad to prevent the bunnies from slipping. We used to add Critter Care on top, but since they changed their formula we have switched to plain National Geographic litter. The tray is big enough for both bunnies at once, which is nice.