How Many Litter Boxes Per Cat? (It’s More Than You Think)

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If you’re wondering how many litter boxes you need per cat, it may be because you’re dealing with a litter box problem. If you are, you know it’s a frustrating situation and a difficult one to correct.


Which is why, it’s better to stay ahead of things and keep an optimum litter box situation to avoid problems.


Having the right number of litter boxes is one of the ways to avoid litter box problems.




The rule is: one litter box per cat, plus one extra. This ensures each cat in the house always has a litter box to use, and there is always a clean litter box to use.


Cats are territorial so if you have two cats and one is more territorial and aggressive than the other, they may not like the other cat using “their” litter box and may guard it or mark around it. Multiple litter boxes allows each cat to have “their” litter box with their scent, and ensures even if a cat is guarding a litter box, there’s still two more open.


If you only have one cat, the extra litter box ensures that if they go to use the litter box before you’ve scooped that day, and it’s not clean, they can use the second litter box. Cats are clean creatures and they typically wouldn’t poop in the exact same spot twice when in the wild. It’s instinctual for them to hide the scent from their bodily waste so it doesn’t attract predators.


So if your cat goes to the litter box and finds a lot of waste, it’s their instincts to go somewhere else. Once they discover new clean places to poop or pee around the house, it’s hard to break them of that habit. Which is why more than one litter box per cat is a good idea.





One cat should have two litter boxes. Although you won’t run into any territorial issues, since your cat isn’t sharing the box with other cats, it does help ensure their litter box is clean. Two litter boxes also allows you to try different types of litters, litter boxes, and litter box locations to determine if one is preferred over the other by your cat.


The more your cat enjoys using the litter box, the more likely they are to continue using it. Prevention is the best strategy when it comes to litter box problems, as correcting bad litter box behaviour can be difficult, frustrating, and costly.





If you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes; one box per cat, plus one extra. This ensures there is always a free litter box for each cat, and makes it more likely each litter box is clean.


More litter boxes does not mean less scooping. You must be scooping the litter box at least once per day, maybe more depending on the type of litter you use and how frequently your cats use the litter box. You also must be changing the litter regularly, which varies depending on the type of litter you use, but typically every 2 – 4 weeks.





If you have more than one cat, you really should have more than one litter box. With two cats using the same litter box, even if you’re scooping every day, it’s likely your cats are going to encounter an untidy box throughout the day. It’s also more likely one cat won’t appreciate the other cat(s) using “their” litter box and may start to guard it or mark around it (scratching or urinating around the litter box).


You also want to seriously consider getting multiple litter boxes if you’re dealing with any type of litter box issue (your cat is peeing and/or pooping outside the litter box or is scratching outside the litter box).


Although there can be a variety of reasons behind these behaviours, often the main culprit is the litter box and it not being clean enough, not being in the right location, it’s being guarded by another cat, etc.


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Call your veterinarian if your cat has suddenly started peeing or pooping outside the litter box, as it may be due to a serious medical condition.





To be honest, for years our household didn’t follow the rule of one per cat plus one extra, and our house has never been without a cat. One litter box worked for us.


We were diligent about scooping the litter box and keeping it clean, and we never ran into an issue.


However, when one of our cats became diabetic, we needed to add that second litter box. He started to use the litter box much more frequently and it was harder to keep up with the scooping. He was also a senior cat with mobility issues, so we purchased a second box with lower sides.


It can be difficult to find room for one litter box when living in a small apartment, let alone two or three. However, seeing as how you live in a small space, you probably keep the litter box really clean to avoid smells taking over your apartment.


What’s most important is that you give your cat(s) a clean litter box to do their business in.


If you’re diligent about scooping the litter box, changing the litter as recommended, and are thoroughly washing the litter box, you may not need multiple litter boxes.





In addition to having the right number of litter boxes per cat, you also want to implement the following to be sure your cat doesn’t decide to start going to the washroom outside the litter box.




The general rule is 1 – 4 weeks but it can vary depending on the type of litter. Too much litter and you’re creating more waste each month and spending more money than you need to. It can also lead to litter box aversion because it can make it harder for your cat to move around in the litter box and dig.


Too little litter and your cat won’t have enough litter to cover their waste and it can lead to a smellier litter box when urine goes straight to the bottom and odors soak into the plastic. Your cat won’t appreciate a smelly litter box.




Although we like clumping clay litters that mask the smell of cat odors, our cats don’t always like them. Cats are sensitive to strong smells so scented litter is less desirable to them. Clumping litter is also more likely to stick between your cat’s toes and it’s not fun for them to clean out.




Again, we like covered litter boxes because they help trap odors and hide dirty litter. However, your cat would never choose a spot like that to do their business in the wild. They don’t want to feel trapped; they need to see their surroundings and have an easy escape route.


Your cat also doesn’t want to breath in those trapped odors or the dust the litter creates when they dig around.


A covered litter box also makes a dirty litter box out of sight, out of mind. You should be scooping at least once per day and an open litter box is a helpful reminder.


You should also think about the size of the litter box and the height of the sides. Cats need enough room to move around in the litter box and one that’s too small can encourage them to find a spot that’s less cramped.


If you have a senior cat, or a cat with mobility issues, the height of the sides will also be important. You’ll need a low entrance so your cat can easily step in and out of the litter box.




A cat’s litter box should never be right next to their food and water. Although cats are animals, they don’t want to eat in the same place they eliminated. It’s also instinctual; they don’t want the smell of their waste to attract predators so they won’t eliminate where they eat or nest.


Your cat wants quiet and privacy when they use the washroom, but that doesn’t mean they want their litter box to be tucked away in a dark, cold, hard-to-get-to spot of the house.


If your cat has mobility issues, they also don’t want to climb a bunch of stairs to use the washroom.


Place the litter box in a spot that’s easy to get to and comfortable for them to use.




Most cat owners don’t scoop and change the litter frequently enough. You should aim for the litter boxes to almost always be free of poop and urine clumps (if using a clumping litter).


Having one piece of waste in the litter box isn’t typically a big deal to your cat, but they prefer a fresh litter box over one they have to step on or over pieces of waste.


You should be scooping the litter box at least once per day. Twice a day is ideal, especially if your cat uses the litter frequently (e.g. if they’re diabetic or have kidney disease and urinate a lot).


The litter should be completely changed at least one per month. The type of litter you use will determine how often you need to toss all the litter and fill the box with new stuff. A paper pellet litter typically must be changed every week or two, while a clumping clay litter can usually last at least four weeks.




I hope this article has helped you determine how many litter boxes you need per cat 🙂



How Many Litter Boxes Per Cat? (It's More Then you Think)