Correct placement of the cat litter box is often not considered seriously enough. It’s not a rarity when owners choose the best available spot, based on their own preferences and space availability, which, unfortunately, is not always the best choice for the cat.
We like to keep the smelly litter box out of our sight, and so place it somewhere in the back of our house, or the basement. Unfortunately, this is where the liter box problems begin.
Even a cat with no visible litter box issues may benefit from an improved litter box location
No matter, if you want to learn where to put a cat litter box due to new kitten arriving soon, or you suspect your older cat is house soiling because of incorrect location of the box, this article will teach you what cats are considering a good elimination spots themselves, and, even if your cat has no problems with house soiling, reconsidering a litter box location in your house, may significantly reduce your cat’s stress level, or, at least, check that everything is fine.
Below are things to keep in mind, when choosing the best location for the litter box:
- Close to activity spots of your cat. If a cat needs to go to the toilet, then he needs it now. Forcing him to walk a great distance to the liter box, may make him find other, bit closer, but still suitable place, like your carpet or plant pot. This means, litter box should be easily reachable from all the rooms your cat spends most of the time. If your cat loves sleeping in your bedroom, and playing in the living room, then you might consider placing a box in a room, that is between them. In most cases, you should allow cat’s longest journey to the litter box, no longer than through two or three other rooms form every place where he spends a significant amount of time. If it’s not possible, you should be placing more than one litter box.
- Prevent a cat from feeling trapped. During elimination, a cat has to maintain a vulnerable posture, in which he is not able to fight back. In nature, the ability to predict danger approaching, and having an escape path available, is crucial for survival. However, in the household, even if the cat is not threatened (by other cats, dogs, people or imaginary enemies), his instinct may discourage him from eliminating in places not providing visual advantage or several escape paths. What does it mean for your house? You should place the litter box so your cat has the ability to see the danger approaching and has more than one escape path available. Thus, round the corner, or in a niche would be a bad idea. Ideally by a middle of a wall, and, if necessary, a bit off the wall, so the cat has all four sides of the litter box free for dashing away. Rooms with several entrances might also be appreciated, as in this case, danger approaching through one of them, will leave the second entrance as an escape path.
- Not too close to food and water. In nature, places where a cat eliminates, drinks and eats (hunts) are three different locations, due to the necessity to remain discreet while hunting, and to avoid pollution. While in households cats have learned to adapt the new rules (like eating and drinking from a stand of two bowls next to each other), placing a litter box too close to food or water, may cause problems. You see, in the household, a cat is not able to choose where to eat. He goes where the owner puts his food bowl. There’s no alternative. It’s different for elimination. If a litter box is too close to your cat’s “hunting” grounds, he might choose a better spot. Ideal, if you are able to place the box in a separate room, other that the food bowl is located, however, if it’s not possible, they still may co-exist in a same room, but placed in opposite sides of it.
- Privacy of the cat litter box should not be overlooked. Cats do need some privacy, while eliminating, indeed, but they are totally okay to do it when a company is present. Besides that, placing a litter box in too private location may break the rule about it being near his activity spots. Also, necessity for privacy (to both sides – cat eliminating in silence and owners not disturbed by the cat) may lead to hiding a litter box inside furniture, round the corner and other. While, cat may still prefer using this box, this is a first call for litter box issues happening.
- Accessibility of the litter box has three parts. One, discussed above already, is it being close enough to the cat. Other is physical accessibility. Have you installed a baby gate along the way or your cat has to climb the stairs? Those issues might not be a problem for most cats, but kittens, older cats, and those who are not particularly active might find these obstacles too large of a challenge or hassle. Other physical obstacles, like a box placed on an elevation, or a possibility of the door being closed, should be taken into account. The third aspect of the litter box accessibility is about the territory. Most likely, it will be an issue in multi cat households. However, other pets, like dogs, or even humans might block or make the way to the litter box challenging. In example, if, a cat needs to cross a room, which is claimed as a territory by another cat, or where the dog with jaws is sleeping, you cat may seek for other options. This is one more reason why multi cat households need more than one litter box.
Sometimes, if you look through your house, you might not find a spot which meets all of the above criteria for the best litter box placement. Do not panic. While, it is, of course, the best to meet all of the recommendations, sometimes, it may still work by skipping one or two. Just check how it works for your cat.
Also, if your cat is not using his litter box, you should check the other possible causes for house soiling, like medical problems, insufficient cleaning or training, as addition to reconsidering the location of your cat’s litter box.
This article is a part of series about cat litter and litter box issues.