Bunnies need a high-back litter box... not a shallow one for a cat.

Because of Weber’s frequent vet visits, he often accompanies me to work at both of my jobs if I am taking him for his shot during lunch. New coworkers are always wanting to pet him and ask if it ever gets old picking up his poopies. When I tell them he uses a litter box, their faces go chalk white, “how on earth did you train him to do that? That must have been hard!”

Granted, rabbits do not bury their poop like a cat, but litter training is just as natural for a bunny. I was pretty ignorant when I adopted Weber from Denton Animal Services (the local dog & cat pound) 4½ years ago. I wasn’t even sure if my dogs would tolerate him. Before I brought him home, I bought a $60 cage from PetCo. It was a small wire cage with a metal bottom that was easy to disassemble for cleaning and with no parts the rabbit could bite through. I put in a litter box with cat litter and a wool bed made for small cats and ferrets.

Weber slept in the litter box and peed in the bed… no one had told him that one was a better than the other and he was the one that made the location decision… so I put in two litter boxes – and once he was consistently sleeping in one and peeing and pooping in the other, I replaced the “bedroom” litter box with a bed.

I have two dogs, DotCom (aka Dottie) and Digit. Dottie seemed to be saying, “you read my mind! I’ve always wanted a bunny!” but Digit, my crazy terror/terrier was not pleased. Because he was initially so aggressive toward Weber, I had to keep him in his cage when the dogs were out of their crates and vice versa. Digit would run to Weber’s cage and snarl. This went on for about a month, with Weber isolated in the cage within only few minutes of out-of-cage romping per day. He would drop a pellet or two behind the furniture to mark his territory, but he would bolt into his cage when he had to pee.

This was another happy accident. At the time, all I could afford was that cheap cage that sat on the floor – and as it turned out, it was perfect – I didn’t have to lift him to get him in or out – he decided when he needed to use the potty and would go on his own.

I had initially gotten a cheapo kitty litter box from Big Lots!… then I came home from work the next day and thought a porta-potty had exploded in my home. I could not believe the stench. I didn’t know that like ferrets, bunnies like to hike their hineys up in the air when they tinkle… so Weber was using the litter box, but peeing right over the back end of it. I then knew why they had those oddly shaped litter boxes at PetCo and picked up one. Now I have 4. When one gets really nasty and not everything will scrape out of it, I put in a new one and put the other one in the dishwasher… so I always have one or two for rotation and one for travel if needed.

I use a clay litter because it’s so absorbent – but I put hay on top of the litter so he doesn’t inhale the fine clay dust. I don’t change the box as often as I probably should – but I do a complete cleaning and box swap out every month. When pellets start falling out, that’s when I know it’s time for a weekly cleaning. There is no smell anymore – I mean NONE.

In the wild, rabbits will dig a toilet in their burrows… when it fills, they dig another one. They are naturally very clean. If Weber is not eating, sleeping or playing, he is grooming. Litter training was a snap – isolation was the key. After he had no choice but to pick a spot to pee in and make a commitment to that spot, it was official. Bunny pee is particularly funky – it is as thick as honey or molasses and is pungent. Litter training helps the rabbit to stay clean like they would in the wild and spares you from the foul odor.

When I upgraded Weber’s cage, I placed his litter box in the same corner so he wouldn’t be confused… he was already blind with rage regarding the cage upgrade (I will write another article about this) and didn’t need any other upsets. My only challenge is keeping the dogs out of his cage as they attempt to sneak a bunny snack from the litter box!

I prefer the square “hi-bac” litter boxes over the triangular corner ones – I think they are just too small. Weber is a mini rex, so it’s not like he is freakishly huge – but those corner boxes I just don’t think are comfy. Plus, Weber likes to snack on hay in the hay rack adjacent to his box while he’s peeing – I don’t think he could comfortably do that with a corner box. I get my boxes from PetCo, like the one pictured above.

Weber had just become sexually mature when I got him (he was about 3-4 months old, evident by the growth of his testicles, which have since been removed). I do not know if there are any problems with attempting to do this with older rabbits or if it takes longer with babies. My guess would be not – since it is in the rabbit’s nature to try to stay as clean as possible – AND rabbits are very particular about how their environment is arranged. He is constantly redecorating.

If you have any questions concerning litter training, please post your comment here… I may have forgotten something.