Litter Box Location Secrets

The litter box plays an important part in the life and happiness of your cat. Setting up the box the right way can be challenging but we're here to help. Let's talk about one of the more important litter box characteristics: Location. Knowing where to place your cat's litterbox - and where not to - can be crucial in getting Kitty to use the box.

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Why should you care about the location of the cat's litterbox?

Your cat is programmed to bury its waste, away from its main living area. As part of their survival strategy as small predators, they do this to prevent odors from being traced back to their territory. This trait makes them a perfect pet for an indoor living – as long as they do indeed use the litter box.

As much as this is instinctive behavior, cat owners need to take the time to properly "configure" the litter box setup. This is the only way to ensure proper use of the litter box. With some cats, a less than perfect configuration may suffice… until stress levels rise for some reason, and litter box avoidance begins. Help your cat stick to regular litter box habits, by providing her with the best setup possible.

Determining where to place the litterbox

Real estate agents often state that there are three things that make up the worth of a property: location, location, location. Well, the location of your cat's litter boxes can prove to be just as important!

Here are a few pointers about the best location for your cat's litter boxes –

Keep the location of the litterbox private

Cats prefer to eliminate away from their living areas (the equivalent of "the nest" area). Keeping their litter boxes away from traffic-heavy areas of your home provides them with the sense of privacy and security needed.

Stay away from food and water dishes

Never place litter boxes next to the cat's food and water dishes. In fact, avoid having these at the same room altogether. This goes back to the need to eliminate away from "the nest". If you place them too close, your cat may be forced to make a choice between feeding and using the litter box… and since food is only in the dish, you could be facing litter box avoidance issues.

Keep it Quiet

Make sure your cat isn't startled by any sudden noises while using the litter box. These could be children running by, a door that suddenly opens on the box or a washing machine starting a new cycle. Some cats are more sensitive to sudden noises than others. For these cats, it may only take one bad scare to drive them away from the litter box for good.

Leave an Escape Route

While urinating and defecating your cat feels more vulnerable. Many cats feel better if they have a way to view their surroundings, as well as a possible escape route available, in case of trouble. This can be a major issue in a multi-cat household, especially if one cat is intimidated by another. Think about what happens when one cat is using the litter box and her rival shows up… will she have an easy escape route, or will she feel trapped? If the latter, she may choose to avoid the litter box.

Keep the litterbox where you can see it

Litter boxes require constant maintenance. In other words, they need to be cleaned regularly, preferably twice a day. Keep the litter box easily accessible and don't forget to clean it on time. If out of sight means out of mind (or rather out of nose) for you - and possibly neglecting your cleaning routine - then by all means, keep the litter box where you can see it!

Litter Box Location Decisions

When you bring home a cat for the first time, take some time to think about the location of your litter box or boxes. You won't regret it. If you already have a litter box that your cat is using regularly, check and see if this is indeed the ideal setting. However, remember that changes need to be made gradually and with care. You may consider adding another litter box and placing that one correctly and then wait for your cat to be using the new box regularly before removing the old box.

There's more to setting up the perfect kitty toilets. Click here to read everything we can teach you about litterbox care for cats.

Read More on: litterbox-problems

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

20 comments on “Litter Box Location Secrets

jenny2035 January 7, 2017
I have 7 cats and only 3 litter boxes - 2 open and 1 closed.  They are near my office and because they are in plain view, I clean them several times a day.  2 of the males,  although neutered, still pee or spray in various places.  I don't think too many people would keep these feisty, troublemaking cats, but I have.  One is over 15, probably closer to 18 - I don't think he will be around too much longer, and hopefully once he is gone, the other will be the alpha and the peeing will stop.  
golondrina December 17, 2016
When Cucumella arrived home over 5 years ago she was 9 years old. We were both, she and I, completely ignorant about litterboxes. She was 9 years old and had always lived in a garden. I bought her a large litterbox and placed it against the wall in the passage between the two bedrooms. She understood what it was for on the third day after her arrival and has been using it ever since without any problem.  The litterbox gets scooped every two days and emptied and washed once a month. No odors or  problems of any kind.
pet outhouse August 26, 2016
Home designers really should plan for litter box locations - a big problem of where they can go.
swamplady February 9, 2016
I have two house cats Cally and Tiger with three litter boxes in the house. One is under a table in the living room where it cannot be seen easily but I check it often for cleaning, Another is a smaller one under a chair that does not hardly get used. Both have good escape routes but my third does not. It is the only place I can put a litter box. HAPPILY there is no issue with the litter boxes. Outside I have a feral cat Smokey who LIVES in my carport. She has a house, toys hanging down, food, water, shade and access to to a huge litter box. I have it pushed up next to something under a bench where the old gal can get in and out easily. She has 3 escape routes. There is another cat Moonshine that is here 3 - 4 times a week. Two small boxes are dishpans. One is a nice size from Walmart. The other is a short under the bed store bin. It is big but need for outside with strays once in a while using it.
terestrife November 13, 2015
darren: why dont you save up and buy a litter robot? i own two of them. i have two cats, and i only deal with the box 1-2 a week. i dont have to be constantly scooping or dealing with them. funnily enough they rarely use the second one and enjoy sharing one, they only use the second one if the 1st one hasnt cycled through a cleaning.
darren7481 November 13, 2015
My 3 kitties have 2 large round litter-boxes, we live in a small 1 bdrm apt., as long as I scoop the poops everyday they seem fine w/just 2 boxes. I keep 1 box by the back door & 1 box in the far corner of my bedroom. Both spots are far from food/water & mostly private. I do feel sorry for them that they can't flush like me, but w/1 bathroom I can't train them for a toilet- if I had a 2nd bathroom we'd be potty training, like yesterday:)
sasha nicole June 27, 2015
I live in an apartment and the vet told me to get two boxes for my one kitty.  I have really limited space as to keep them out of sight, so one is in the bathroom.  When I go in the bathroom, Sasha-Nicole comes in and wants to jump on me and BITE me.  She's trying to tell my, I guess, that this IS HER territory and NO persons ALLOWED! 
tallyollyopia April 29, 2015
Is there anything inherently wrong with setting up the litterbox in the bathroom? I've been told this is a bad thing to do--but why?
Anne June 13, 2014
Cat behavior questions should be posted in the behavior forum here - Comments on the article are welcome in the comments form here, but specific questions about cats should be posted to the forums please. Thank you!
charlene wagner June 12, 2014
I have a male cat about 8 yr old just out of the blue started peeing on the floor.I've taken him to the Vet and check couldn't find any thing wrong .He does seam to be afraid of his own shadow
djmixon December 25, 2013
One more thing, we have 12 which means technically we should have 13 boxes. We found oversized Nature's Miracle boxes to help with that issue. None have a problem with sharing. They have all been introduced (over a decade) as kittens, so sharing got worked out long ago. We have 2-15 year olds, 4-8 year olds, 2-7 year olds, 1-6 year old, and 3-5 year olds. All healthy and happy. Especially now that there are no more contractors in and out.
djmixon December 25, 2013
We have a home with no real litterbox hideout, so we made them. We purchased half-width folding tables and put table cloths over the table. Then we put the box under the table. the cats (we have 12 rescues) have privacy and an escape route. My autistic grandson does not mess with them. And it adds much needed flat space for "stuff". We were able to put two large boxes there. We have the same setup in our office (former dining room). We have something similar in the bedrooms, and a covered box near the fireplace (that we do not use). It is the most open, but with the cover, it is not such a big deal.   We have only just started having one spraying, but we had pipes burst late last year and have had a year of contractors in and out. THAT IS OVER THANK GOD!!! We pulled out all carpets and put in vinyl flooring which they are getting used to, but we have throw rugs and tons of kitty beds everywhere. They are doing pretty well. Just the one is still stressed, so I am constantly washing clothing, kitty beds, etc and I have a bottle of half white vinegar-half water ready to spray anywhere I find the smell. It neutralized it. Then I clean with Urine Gone and spray with Zero. Needless to say, we have Feliway going all the time.
gibbyandgravy December 9, 2013
I agree with cast4us. My new house doesn't seem to have a suitable place for my cat boxes. I haven't moved in yet, and I'm at a loss on where to put it.
cazzy December 6, 2013
My cat is truly strange He has 4 boxes as he is indoors One of which is in the living room with fo for a refillod half a metre away He makes sure we clean it before he gets in if dirty Once cleaned he gose the gose for food
boxer2044 July 26, 2013
experiment with different litters also
boxer2044 July 26, 2013
i have 2 adult cats one male and one female both 13 plus yrs old, current locations are two boxs down stairs tucked away in a kitchen closet that is never closed completely, so they have privacy, and one box in a room which i dont use on my 2ed floor, it seems to work well at this time,just need to keep them clean clean clean..
speciesunknown8 February 20, 2013
i have 2 boxes for my cats and i have noticed that 100% they prefer the box in the basement. i don't like it there though because like you mentioned above, out of sight out of mind. i forget it's there, i only see the one upstairs which could remain untouched for days because they don't like it as much.
terestrife February 10, 2013
my cats litter box is next to her cat tree, will this cause me issues later on?
cutyphoebe October 26, 2012
Just a note about litter boxes. My cats like a larger litter box. If you go to a home improvement store (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) in the cement aisle they have "mixing trays". They are about twice the size of a normal litter box and cost between $5-$10. I've had one approximately 5 years and its still in really good condition.
cats4us August 7, 2012
It's a shame that people who design houses don't think of places for litter boxes. Trying to find a spot for just one litter box is sometimes almost impossible, much less 3 boxes for 2 cats. I guess all houses should have an extra room just for cats!

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