How Many Litterboxes Should You Have?

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All indoor cats need unrestricted access to a clean litter box. If they can’t have that, they’ll be left with no choice but to do their business elsewhere, and you’ll have an inappropriate elimination problem on your hands. That’s why you should educate yourself about all aspects of the litter box and learn how to properly set up and maintain your cat’s bathroom so she’ll never have to go anywhere else. The number of litter boxes is an important aspect of that, as it directly affects the cat’s ability to access a litter box when and where it needs to. So, how many litter boxes should you have?

It depends.

There are a number of considerations that may influence the number of litter boxes per household.

Number of cats

The often-quoted formula tells you it’s “the number of cats in your household + one”. So, if you have only one cat, you need two boxes. For two cats, you should have three boxes, and so on.

That’s a good number to start with.

Size of House

You’re aiming at making the boxes accessible at all times. If your cat has to cross seven rooms to get to the box, he or she may not make it in time. This is especially true of kittens and elderly or sick cats. If you live in a large house, you may need three or even four litter boxes even if you only have one cat.

Floors and Accessibility Issues

Older or sick cats, especially those with arthritis, may have trouble accessing some parts of your home. If they have to climb stairs or jump to a high shelf, they may opt to use another, more accessible, spot.

Catering for Variety

Cats can have very distinctive preferences for certain types of litter boxes (open or closed) and different kinds of litter. Let’s say you have five cats, and three of them only go in clumping non-scented litter in an open box. You’ve placed six litter boxes around your house (five plus one, as per the formula). But what if four of these boxes are covered boxes with recycled paper pellets that your three cats can’t stand? You’re actually leaving three cats with the option to use only two litter boxes. If all three need to go at once, or if one of the boxes isn’t cleaned in time, your cats may be left with no option other than the rug.

Cleaning Routine

Many cats will avoid a dirty litterbox. If you don’t have the time to clean the litterbox at least on a daily basis, you should add even more boxes, to make sure each cat can find a clean litterbox.

So, How Many Litter Boxes Should I Have?

Like we said, it depends.

At a minimum, the number should be the number of your cats plus one. If you can space them around the house, make sure they’re all accessible to all cats, get the right type of box and litter, and make sure they’re all kept clean, you should be good to go! Otherwise, consider adding more boxes, to make sure each and every cat can always find a clean accessible litter box that they can use.

Make sure you also read the following articles about litterbox setup and maintenance:
How to Choose the Right Cat Litter
How to Minimize Litterbox Odor
How Often Should I Clean the Litter Box?
When and How to Switch to a New Type of Litter
How To Set Up An Effective Litterbox Maintenance Routine
Litter Box Location Secrets

Still need more information? Check out this full guide to all of our articles:
The Litterbox: What Every Cat Owner Needs To Know

Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

4 comments on “How Many Litterboxes Should You Have?

ellen kriz April 18, 2016
Hello Paul London, I've found that changing the litter type helps, and/or even changing the type of litterbox. I know it's been a while since you posted, but I hope this cat is ok by now. Good luck for you and your friend in cat rescue! Ellen K.
12345abcde February 16, 2016
Good afternoon all   I hope this quick request for information finds you all well.  I am inquiring for a friend of mine who is a Cats Protection lady and she is also the person I get my rescue cats from. She is having a problem with a young rescue cat who is refusing to use the litter tray and manages to crap and pee on the floor of his pen despite every effort to convince him otherwise. All cats have clean professionally built pens, clean/new bedding each time etc, etc, I know she has consulted vets who just seem to want to fill the poor cat full of tablets (that don't work) and she is trying to get some help from behaviorist so that the issue can get resolved and the little lad can be re homed. Right now no one will have him which is a shame. Has anyone encountered this kind of issue before and if so how did you manage to get around it. The longer any cat spends in care the harder it is for them so just trying to help her resolve this and get him a warm, loving home. thank you everyone Paul London
raysmyheart May 26, 2015
This is something I did not know until awhile ago, when reading on TCS, that is, the number of boxes.  I think the other articles are important too, because they all work together, like location, etc.  Very good info.  Cats should be able to depend on these basics we provide.
joannekitty May 23, 2015
I would say it also depends on the size and frequncy of cleaning? I have 3 cats, but 2 very large litter boxes. One closed one upstairs, and one open one downstairs. I clean mine twice day. Once in the morning and again at night (which involves removing all urine patches). I clean out any faeces as soon as possible, so thier litter is never dirty. 

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