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Where to place your litter box

susan harrelson

Locating your litter box

 A properly located litter box can drastically improve the joy of owning a cat.  Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing a location that works well for you and your cat.  Choosing an area to place your litter box depends on several key variables which could come into play for selecting a great location.  Not all of these variables may apply to your cat.  Cats vary in personality as much as people do so some situations won’t apply to your cat. 

 The location should accommodate what your cat needs in order to feel at ease when using their litter box.  Cats are shy and timid by nature and making them feel comfortable and safe can be essential to good bathroom habits.  Here is a short list of things you may want to consider when choosing a location:

  •  Cats like a secluded area without feeling trapped or threatened by other cats, dogs or people.
  •  They like a quiet area without any noises to distract them - like washing machines, dryers, gas water heaters, a gas furnace, even the door bell chime noise can make them leery.
  •  Pick a place that is out of the line of foot traffic from children, adults and other pets which could spook them and interrupt their quiet time.
  •  Choose an area away from windows or screen doors, these locations could seem frightening to cats if they see other cats or animals roaming around outside, they’re thinking – “if I can see them they can see me”!
  •  Cats don’t like feeling they could be ambushed or attacked while in a vulnerable position, this is one reason why some cats prefer an open litter tray over an enclosed litter box.
  •  Locating a litter box should accommodate both the cats’ needs as well as being in a convenient place for you. 
  •  A box that is out of sight sometimes gets messy and problems could go unnoticed, causing stress for your cat – place it where you can keep an eye on things. 
  •  Make sure your box is easy for you to maintain, don’t put it in the basement if climbing stairs are hard for you – make it easy on yourself and both you and your cat will be happier.
  •  Don’t place your cats litter box in the same area where you keep their food and water.
  •  Keep a broom nearby and any maintenance items handy like deodorizers or paper towels. 
  •  Since you will be the one maintaining the litter box, make your job as easy as possible. 

 Once you have picked the area where you will be placing the litter box, position it so your cat has as many escape routes as possible.  Even if it’s just you and one cat, they will always be thinking “something could get me”.  If considering a covered litter box, make sure your cat will feel like they can go left or right when exiting the box.  Some cats don’t like covered litter boxes and trying to force one on them may cause stress.  If litter scatter is your concern, try a litter box with high walls to help cut down on the mess.

 Multiple cats – could mean multiple locations

Multiple cats could mean multiple locations and multiple decisions. Usually each cat prefers their own litter box.  Some cats don’t mind sharing; it depends on whether they were raised in a multi cat environment or came from a single cat home and are being introduced to a new friend.  If you own multiple cats, take each cat’s personality into consideration when placing their box.  Older or fat cats need a litter box on the ground for easy access while young cats can find seclusion in an elevated area away from the others.  Cats are great jumpers, putting a litter box above the ground, like on a table or bench can offer them a secure bathroom location without the dog or older cats antagonizing them.  All cats like two or more escape routes to feel at ease while in a vulnerable position so ensure they aren’t limited to just one.  Try locating a few boxes in different areas and let your cat’s show you what their preferences are. 

 Some household cats share their litter boxes just fine.  If you have a situation like this, be sure to scoop frequently and provide multiple boxes throughout the house or side-by-side to give them extra litter space.  In this situation, if one cat gets sick they will most likely all get sick.  Common litter boxes are a great place to transmit diseases from one animal to the other.  If you suspect a cat is sick, isolate the sick cat till they are well or get them to the veterinarian.  Explain to your veterinarian you have multiple cats using the same litter boxes; the vet may need to treat them all.  Once you find a suitable location for your cats’ litter boxes, leave them there, moving their litter boxes could stress your cats and cause problems which could be hard to correct.

 Relocating a litter box

If you are trying to relocate an existing litter box, you could be in for a little trouble.  Cats like having a routine when going to the bathroom and moving a litter box could upset their routine.  If you have a finicky cat and you must move their litter box, try doing it a little at a time - perhaps a few feet a day, less or more depending on the cat.  Leave some of used litter in the box so they know that it is still their bathroom, clean litter may confuse them and leave them looking in the old location for their familiar abode.  If you are in need of a new litter box, wait until you have established the new location before changing to a new box.  Once the litter box is out of the room, close the door and continue moving the box slowly towards its final destination.  This process can take a while so be patient with your cat.  Don’t punish your cat if an accident occurs during this transition, which will only confuse them, they may associate punishment with the litter box and you want to avoid this if at all possible.  Once you have successfully moved your cats litter box to its new location and it has been there awhile, now would be a good time to start them off with a fresh new box or introduce them to a covered litter box or a box with a new style - kind of like we feel when we get new towels and a new shower curtain for our bathroom.  It just feels fresher…

 If you hate cleaning your litter box or boxes, consider using a disposable litter box – they make a great solution for eliminating that task for the rest of your life!  Most are biodegradable, recyclable and earth friendly.  The cost is small compared to never cleaning your cats’ litter box again.   There are several to choose from, personally I use the Catsdesire disposable litter box.  Enclosed or covered, it meets all my cats’ needs with one product. 

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