If you’re creating a feline-friendly home in anticipation of bringing in a new kitty, providing a safe, easily accessible place to do his business will be key. One litter box will not be enough, especially in a multi-cat household.
How many litter boxes do you need? The rule of thumb, according to Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” is one more litter box than the number of cats you have. One cat? You’ll need two litter boxes. Two cats? You’ll need three.
Might sound like a lot of waste to be scooped, but the risk of not providing adequate “toilet” facilities for your cat could lead to peeing and pooping outside his litter box or on your living room sofa, carpet, or area rugs.
If you have more than one cat and they share a litter box, consider yourself fortunate. It’s not typical since most cats prefer their own place to eliminate. Sharing one litter box might seem easier to keep clean, but in fact you might be scooping much more often because of multiple visits. An overcrowded litter box is much more difficult to keep in satisfactory order, especially for a cat who prefers not having to step over his fellow cat’s droppings. That cat will more than likely find another place to pee or poop, and it’s not likely a place you’ll find acceptable.
In a multi-cat household where cats are sharing a litter box, you may begin to see problems that signal discontent among the masses, such as one cat that starts spraying around the box to mark his territory and deter the others from using it. You might also see uncovered droppings, which is a cat’s way of laying claim to the litter box. Cats fed up with sharing a litter box may also eliminate outside of it as an act of defiance.
Forcing cats to share a litter box can also create undue anxiety for one or all of them. Some kitties are quite territorial and may try to block use of the box if another cat comes calling. The cat without easy access will find another spot to go or end up holding his urine, which can lead to health issues like urinary tract infections or feline urethral obstruction (FUO), a potentially life-threatening condition.
Now that you know how many litter boxes you need to keep your cats happy and healthy, the next step is finding the right spot for them. If your cat tends to spend more time in one area of your house, then consider placing a box in that location. She’s already comfortable there and likely feels safe.
If you have a pair of cats and one is more territorial than the other, it’s a good idea to place their boxes on opposite ends of the house so that neither cat is forced to cross the other’s space to gain access. The extra litter box can then be situated in a spot somewhere centrally located.
Lining up your cats’ litter boxes along a wall won’t work, especially if you have a dominant cat who might intimidate a more submissive kitty. Give them their own space to urinate and defecate, and that simply requires multiple litter boxes.
It’s not about creating more work for you to maintain multiple litter boxes in your home. It’s about considering your cat’s needs and avoiding potential issues like litter-box aversion. Provide your cat its own place to go, and keep the box clean by scooping regularly. You wouldn’t want to come home and use a dirty toilet. Your cat expects nothing less.