When it comes to litter boxes, things might not be as black and white as they appear. If you notice your cat doesn’t especially like using the litter box or even outright avoids it, it could all come down to a single, seemingly unimportant detail: location. But as any realtor would say, it’s all about location, location, location. It applies to litter boxes, too!
Where you place a litter box in your home can drastically impact the relationship you have with your cat. It can get frustrating if your cat won’t use the litter box and eliminates around the house; and it’s not only stressful for you, but for your cat as well.
So where are the best and worst places to set up your cat’s litter box? We’ve compiled a list of advice from cat behaviorists to help you decide the purr-fect place for your cat to do its bathroom business. Short of training your kitty to use the toilet (which you can totally do), there are many ways to make sure your cat uses their litter box. Read on for more!
1. Too Hidden
The best places for litter boxes, according to cat behavior specialists Paula Garber and Blair de Jong, are usually in quiet, easy-to-reach corners in the home.
Garber notes that as a rule, cat owners don’t want to see or smell litter boxes and avoid the mess of scattered litter. So they may tuck them in places that are out of the way for the pet. But this can be inconvenient for a cat, and may discourage them from using the box.
“Check out where your cat spends the most time,” Blair de Jong adds. “If your cat never goes up to that weird attic room, don’t put the litter box up there.”
Instead, place the box someplace that the cat can easily get to, preferably a low-traffic area, Garber recommends. Cats usually like to hang out with their humans, so one of those favorite spots may be perfect for a litter box.
To help avoid litter mess, use mats outside the litter box to help trap any litter your cat may track outside the box.
2. Danger Zone
Even though cats have been domesticated, they still have natural wild instincts. When your cat uses the litter box, they know they are vulnerable to attack. Litter boxes placed around corners, in cabinets, behind couches, in closets, and small rooms are perfect setups for an ambush. A cat can be easily trapped in this situation, or be pounced upon by another cat or animal in the home.
Make sure the box is in a location that offers a clear and easy escape route for your cat and, even better, make sure you have several boxes in different locations so your cat has litter box options.
3. Keep It Away From Food And Water
Keep your cat’s litter box well away from its source of food and water. You wouldn’t want to eat your dinner right next to the toilet, would you? The same goes for your feline friends.
The main reason to keep the litter box away from your cat's food and water is to avoid cross-contamination. Cats can track litter outside their box and if it ends up in their food or water it can cause illness or digestive issues if ingested.
Cats also have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell, as well as an instinct to keep their food and water separate from where they defecate and urinate. It is part of the reason that cats bury their feces in the first place, to hide the scent from potential predators to stay hidden.
4. No Loud Machines
While the laundry room may seem like a convenient place for the litter box (out of the way, generally smells like fresh laundry) the noise from appliances like the washer and dryer may scare your cat away from using the box. And as it happens, heat radiating from a furnace or hot dryer can also amplify the smell coming from the litter box. And nobody wants that, you or the cat!
5. Multiple Boxes in Multiple Places
As a general rule of thumb from cat behaviorists such as Jackson Galaxy, each cat should have one litter box, plus one extra. So if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes total. This ensures that every cat has their space
Consider Your Cat's Needs First
When it comes down to it, finding the perfect litter box location for your cat should be about the cat. It's all about finding the right balance between your cat's needs and your wants.
Cats prefer litter boxes that are placed in low-traffic, quiet areas that have expansive views. These areas should be easily accessible to the cat, placed away from their food and water, and offer a good view and an easy escape route.