How many litter boxes?
“You need one litter box per cat plus one more” That is the advice we often read.
But does that advice have any value or is it merely a scheme to get us to buy more litter boxes?
Well, it cannot be completely bad advice because many authoritative cat organizations give that recommendation.
In fact the ASCPA advises “Make sure you have one for each cat in your household, plus one extra.
For example, if you have three cats, you’ll need a minimum of four litter boxes.”
On the other hand many homes with cats seem to work very well with less than “one per cat plus one.”
Let's take a look at some of the reasons why how many litter boxes you have may be important.
Some cats get on very well with one litter tray. The cat knows where it is and what it is for and uses it generally without any problems.
Other cats detest using a litter box that has already been used. If the cat urinated in the tray one half hour ago and now she wants to defecate, she will not use the tray.
This is fine if you are always on hand to clean your cat's litter box as soon as it is used.
Now we all know that litter trays should be kept clean at all times, but it is unrealistic to believe that as soon as your cat has a poop, or a pee, you can magically appear and make the tray nice and fresh. Life is not like that.
Even if you do not have to leave you home each day to go to work, there will be times when you are out of the house.
When you are at home there will be times when you simply can't drop everything to scoop out the dirty box.
Also, there are some cats that prefer one box to urinate in and a different box to defecate in.
You have more than one cat? Lucky you. Cats love company, they love your company and they love the company of other felines. In multi cat homes cats are less likely to become bored.
Many cats can also mean some problems however, litter box problems included. How many litter boxes?
One for each of your cats and one extra is actually a good rule of thumb. Of course you may find a different arrangement works better in your home.Generally, cats do not like using the same litter tray as their house mates. This means a tray each is usually a must.
Cats living together will establish a hierarchy. These hierarchies can be complex but broadly, each cat will know their place in the pecking order, one cat will be the most dominant and one cat the most subservient.
This pecking order can mean the dominant cat claiming a certain litter box as their own.
They may prevent all other cats from using it, or just certain other cats. The assertive cat may lay in the path to the litter box, or even ambush another cat who is using it.
Once a subordinate cat has been attacked while using a box they will likely be very reluctant to attempt to use it again.
Having many litter boxes will ease the situation and may even solve the problem altogether. Some bossy cats may want to claim all the boxes as their own, but would have a difficult job guarding them all at the same time.
Naturally, if you have lots of cats, to have as many cat litter pans as you have cats plus one, means that you will need space for them. This is not always easy to find.
Location is always important. Some cats demand a degree of privacy and will not use a litter tray in an area with a lot of human traffic.
Most cats do not want to do their toilet in the same area as they have to eat. Laundry rooms are not the best places for litter boxes because of the noises from the machines and the smells from detergents.
It can be a task to find suitable locations for many litter boxes, you may be forced to compromise on the one per cat plus an extra rule.
If you are short of space it may take a little experimenting to find the minimum number of cat boxes you need. It may also take a little forgiveness for any 'accidents' that happen until you find the ideal.
Many people, that have more than one cat, say their cats are all able to use a single Automatic Cat Litter Box without problems.
As the waste is automatically cleared away each time these boxes are used, it may mean that a cat would be more inclined to use it even if it is used by other cats.
Perhaps a single self cleaning box may be adequate for a three or even four cat house, but more cats than that and there is more chance of problems.
The number and type of litter boxes that you need is not likely to stay constant.
Introduce a Kitten into a home with Older Cats and you can't expect the kitten to use the same litter box as the cats. The kitten will need a tray with shallow sides.
Likewise an older cat may have difficulty with high sided boxes, whereas your younger cats are still using them with ease. When a cat is getting on in years it may be necessary to provide a low sided litter pan.
So you see, the answer to how many litter boxes does depend on your particular cats and your circumstances, but the advice of having one litter box per cat plus one more is pretty good.