Even if your cat has unrestricted access to the outdoors, it’s a good idea to keep the litter box indoors if it doesn’t feel safe going potty outside or has trouble getting to the backyard fast enough due to old age or mobility issues.

If you’re a cat, you can never have enough litter boxes, so let’s check out the proper number of litter boxes per household, including the ins and outs of litter boxes.

How many litter boxes does a cat need?

In multi-cat households, it is always necessary to provide adequate resources such as feeding stations, cat trees, and beds to avoid conflict and minimize competition. The same advice applies to litter boxes.

The consensus among feline behaviorists is that you should provide a litter box for each cat, plus a box. Litter boxes should be placed in multiple locations around your home.

Cats that toilet outdoors generally prefer to urinate and defecate in various locations. You can provide two trays for each cat to mimic the ideal indoor litter facility.

Determine how many litter boxes you need.

To determine the number of litter trays you need, count the number of cats in your household before adding one. For example, the minimum number of trays is three if you have two cats. If you have three cats, the minimum number is four. It never hurts to keep more litter boxes, so if you have the space, don’t hesitate to keep two boxes for each cat.

If you live in a small house with several cats, the compromise is determining the number of social groups of cats and how well they get along. If you have cohesive groups, you can try one litter box per social group plus one extra.

Providing the ideal litter box setup helps to ensure that cats consistently use them.

Regardless of the wide variety of litter box products on the market, from a cat’s perspective, litter boxes simply need to feel safe, clean, and filled with two to three inches of sandy substrate to bury and hide their physical waste.

To find out which litter substrate your cat prefers, conduct a litter preference test by providing a set of trays containing different litter materials. If you have a new cat, continue to use the same type of litter they have used before (if you know what it is).

The size of the litter box is very important. The rule of thumb is that the box should be at least 1.5 times the length of the cat from nose to end of tail. The box should be sturdy and wide enough so that your cat can fully turn around, dig, and cover their feces without any restrictions. Kittens can start with a small tray, but upgrade their litter box to a larger size as they grow.

Scoop the litter box several times daily and clean it thoroughly at least once a week. Cats are more likely to use these boxes consistently when kept clean.

Finally, if your cat is older or has difficulty climbing in and out of the litter box, provide a large tray with a shallow rim to minimize discomfort.

Where to put the litter box?

Place the litter box in a secluded area or quiet corner away from busy foot traffic, and make sure the cat can see its surroundings from the safety of a wall or solid object behind it.

If the cat lives in a multi-story home, placing a litter box on each floor is a good idea, especially if you have kittens or older cats, to minimize accidents that soil the house. If your cat lives with a dog that tends to invade the litter box, place the litter box in a room protected by a baby gate or install a microchip cat flap inside the gate.

Don’t place the litter box near busy streets, cat flaps leading to the outdoors, glass windows, or entrances and exits to the home so the cat won’t be disturbed or feel vulnerable while toileting. Similarly, keep the litter box away from food and water stations and any noise or vibration from washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers.

Can you place the litter boxes side by side?

Do not place litter trays side by side, especially in a multi-cat household. Ideally, place trays in various parts of the house to minimize felines being cornered, blocked, or guarded by assertive cats.

What to do if your cat won’t use the litter box?

Cats will not use a litter box that is too small. Choose a box that is at least 1.5 times the length of your cat from nose to tail.

If your cat doesn’t use the litter box, try placing an extra litter box in a new location and consider upgrading to a larger one. You can also conduct a litter preference test, during which you temporarily restrict access to certain parts of the house.

Try different types of litter, cover or open trays, adjust the depth of the litter, and scoop the litter several times a day to see if it makes any difference. Record daily bowel habits in a diary to determine your cat’s preference.

If your cat still refuses to use the litter box or begins to soil outside the litter box, take your cat to your veterinarian for a physical examination. Mention any behavioral changes to your veterinarian, no matter how subtle they may be.

It is crucial to provide enough litter boxes to ensure your cat is comfortable while toileting. Creating creative litter box setups in your home can reduce or eliminate out-of-box accidents.


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