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I've put together a ventilation system for a custom litter box that constantly flushes its internal atmosphere with outside air using a fan system:

        /|                         +--------------+
        /|-------[clean air]------>|              |
window  /|                         | [litter box] |
        /|<------[dirty air]-------|              |
        /|                         +--------------+

Now I'm trying to figure out if the box should be opaque or transparent.

Vendors like Amazon.com seem to have examples of both (e.g., transparent hood; opaque hood), though I imagine that human preferences weigh in on buyer selection, whereas I'm primarily concerned with my kittens' comfort.

I've found a few articles (example) that claim that cats prefer transparent boxes so they don't feel like something could be sneaking up on them.

Other factors that might go into this are:

  1. The litter box can have gentle LED lighting so it's never really dark.

  2. The litter box can have multiple doors.

Question: All else equal for a covered litter box, would cats tend to prefer for the litter box to be transparent or opaque?

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It is hard to say if they would like transparent or opaque. Go with transparent though since if you think they don’t like the transparency you can cover it up or paint it etc.

Offering some extra free unsolicited engineering device - I would recommend ensuring your ventilation system is very quiet as cats do not like loud noises, particularly when doing their “business.” Also ensure the vibrations in the litter compartment are negligible as this may disturb or deter them as well.

I wouldn’t worry about the lighting the compartment as cats night vision is about 100 times better than a humans.

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My first guess would be opaque. But that is wrong, according to this article.

Cat's like to be able to see around when doing their toilet thing:

Enclosed litter boxes may be perfect for people, but not so much for cats. They are setups for ambushes. Kitties, instinctually, do not want to be in places where they can potentially be trapped. Even if there are no other threats or resident animals, instinct wins.

They are not into the privacy thing, either. People are. Felines prefer being safe in an uncovered box so that they can see potential threats and escape them.

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  • This varies from cat to cat. Our more alert cat always looks out the door hole when doing her business. Her sister (a much more trusting cat) faces away from the door hole. – Flater Jun 5 '18 at 11:59
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I don't think it matter, or if it does, it's going to be a matter of personal preference (not every cat will like the same thing).

We have 3 cats and 2 litter boxes. Different litter boxes, different characters, different litter box preferences.

  • The observant cat prefers the black litter box and faces the door hole.
  • The unbothered cat prefers the white litter box (not transparent, but lets in ambient light) and faces away from the door hole.
  • The playful cat uses whichever box he prefers, and I've seen him in every orientation.

However, none of the cats refuse to use either litter box. They may have a preference, but only having the other option (or if their preferred box needs a cleaning) doesn't deter them from doing their business.

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