Cats loved it
High sides keep litter inside
Easy to scoop and clean
Open design not for everyone
Minimal color options
You and your cat might not agree on this one. With so many feature-rich litter boxes out there—with antimicrobial materials, charcoal filters, invisible privacy hoods, and self-cleaning—a straightforward open litter box like the Giant High-Sided Cat Litter Pan from Van Ness isn’t likely to be a cat owner’s dream box. It might be your cat’s, though. We let our cats Pinky, Oliver, and Rose try this simple box out for two weeks, alongside a covered litter pan and covered auto-cleaning box, and they settled on a clear winner. Read on to see how the Van Ness stacked up.
Design: Basic but effective
Some litter boxes have fancy features like self-cleaning capabilities, but at the end of the day, a litter box is a resounding failure if a cat refuses to use it. A basic uncovered litter box like the Van Ness can be unsightly, but since many cats refuse to use covered litter boxes, having litter visible is significantly better than finding that your cat has peed on your pillow.
The Van Ness pan is made from high-polish, 20 percent recycled plastic that, according to the manufacturer, is both stain- and odor-resistant. Our litter box was a pearly medium blue, but it also comes in green and bronze hues. We would’ve preferred that the brand offered more stylish neutral options, too.
Other than the color, the main—or only, really—design feature of the Van Ness pan is its high-walled sides. The back measures 9 inches tall, and the sides slope down to 6 inches at the front for easier entry. The high walls address a number of issues cat owners face, like all-out refusal to use a covered litter box, sprayers, high aimers, and the litter fallout-zone around the box of a cat who likes to do archeological digs.
The Van Ness Giant High-Sided Cat Litter Pan is big, basic, and affordable—plus, it mostly prevents litter dispersion outside of the pan.
One note about the walls from our testing, however, was that our cats liked to ignore the lower wall in the front of the pan and leap out over the 9-inch sides instead, kicking litter on their way. The higher walls definitely kept litter from escaping while our cats were inside the box, but jumping out was a different story.
Also, when our cats have used covered litter boxes, they scrape the inside walls as if they’re trying to bury their waste—perhaps indicating that the litter boxes we provide are too small—and then hop out. The Van Ness didn’t provide the same false sense of security that the covered boxes did—our cats always did a good job burying their waste.
Cat-Friendliness: Our cats loved it immediately
Although the design of the Van Ness is very basic, the moment we unboxed it, it was instantly the most popular litter box in the house. We’d filled it with litter and turned to grab the camera, and when we turned back, Rose had already jumped in and started scratching around, eventually using it.
From the moment we unboxed this product, it was the most popular litter box in the house.
Though our testing period was three weeks long, we only left the Van Ness out for two of those weeks. The three cats favored the unhooded pan so much, they barely even experimented with the other two we were trying to review at the same time. If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, we aren’t sure what is.
Ease of Cleanup: A bit sticky
One advantage of the open-top pan is how easy it is to scoop. Especially since our cats loved this box so much, this was especially important, as we were scooping twice a day. Cleaning the box itself was less satisfying. While the glossy finish looked like wet litter should just slide off, it definitely didn’t. We use clumping litter, and trying to rinse out the pan after use just formed an oatmeal-like paste that wouldn’t budge. To be honest, we gave up.
Trying to rinse out the pan after use just formed an oatmeal-like paste that wouldn’t budge.
Also, although the manufacturer claims the plastic is odor-resistant, the smell of new waste was still noticeable—we’d say, in this case, whether or not you notice odors will depend more on whether your cats are good at burying their waste, as well as the type of litter you use, rather than the box itself.
Retailing between $8 and $14, depending on where you shop, the Van Ness is competitively priced for a simple, molded plastic pan. The product is pretty basic, so what you see is what you get.
Competition: Small improvements at a higher price point
PetFusion Large BetterBox Litter Box: In this open-top PetFusion litter box (view on Amazon), EPA- and FDA-approved nonstick coating keeps litter from sticking. It might be four times as expensive, but we think that’s worth it to save yourself the headache of figuring out how to clean the clumped litter out of the pan like we had to with the Van Ness. We’d choose this one instead.
Petmate Jackson Galaxy Giant Open Litter Pan: Petmate’s giant litter box (view on Amazon), has an extra inch of height on the Van Ness and is sized for a Maine Coone. Maybe that would be enough to keep the litter inside when cats leap out. If you have a larger cat or a big digger, you may want to try this one instead.
- Product Name Giant High-Sides Cat Litter Pan
- Product Brand Van Ness
- MPN CP3HS
- Price $10.99
- Color Blue
- Composition Plastic