When I was about to move into a small apartment with my cat, I started to wonder where I was going to put the litter box. It was a one-bedroom apartment with a tiny bathroom and very little closet space.
You’ve likely already thought of the obvious places to put the litter box, so this article won’t cover the basics, but instead, will offer some unique ways to hide a litter box, that you may not have thought of.
If you want to know the best and worst types of locations for a litter box, check out this article. This article will give you ideas for hiding the litter box, without deterring your cat from using it.
1. BEHIND A CURTAIN
Sometimes small apartments have odd nooks and spaces that aren’t really useful. If you can hang a curtain in front of those spaces, it can be the perfect spot for a litter box. You can purchase a tension rod and a curtain panel, so you won’t be risking your damage deposit.
The curtain hides the litter box but ensures your cat will never be locked out of the space. It also makes it easy for you to access the litter box to clean it daily (here’s how to clean a litter box without bending over).
IN A CORNER
Or, purchase a corner closet rod such as this one, and place it in a corner and hang a curtain from it. You will need to put a few screw holes in the wall but those will be easy to patch when it’s time to move out. Before buying, measure your litter box and how much room you will have behind the curtain to be sure the litter box will fit. There are corner litter boxes too.
You can also create a curtain around the sides of a table or coffee table (if it’s empty space below) to hide the litter box. Instead of using a rod to hang the curtain, you may stick self-adhesive Velcro strips to the under-side of the table and top of the fabric. Or, you could use a staple gun to attach the fabric.
IN PLACE OF CABINET DOORS
If you’ve taken the door off a cabinet to place the litter box inside, but you’d still like to give your cat a little privacy and to hide the litter box, consider hanging a curtain in place of the cabinet door. This covers the litter box but ensures your cat always has access.
AROUND A SINK
Although a bathroom isn’t an ideal place to put a litter box, you can make it work if you can always leave the door slightly open and have a fan to reduce humidity. And if you happen to have a sink that is floating with no cabinetry below, you can use some strong double-sided tape to hang lightweight fabric around the sink and place the litter box below.
If the sink has a cabinet below it, you could also go the route of removing a cabinet door, placing the litter box inside the cabinet, and hanging a short curtain to hide the litter box but keep access to your cat open.
BETWEEN TWO BOOKSHELVES
Place the bookshelves a few feet apart and use a tension rod to hang a curtain between them. If the bookshelves are shallow, place them a foot or two away from the wall. This will add extra depth for the litter box, and give your cat a backway entrance to their litter box.
2. BEHIND A SCREEN
If you must place the litter box in a main living space, such as the living room, consider making or purchasing a simple room divider and placing the litter box behind it. As long as you keep the litter box really clean, no one will ever know it’s there (unless your cat is scratching around in it when you have company).
3. IN A BUILT-IN CABINET
If you’re lucky enough to have built-in cabinets somewhere in your apartment, besides the kitchen, you may be able to simply take the door off a low cabinet and place the litter box inside. When you go to move out, you just need to screw the door back on.
If the kitchen cabinets extend beyond the main cooking area of your kitchen, perhaps even a lower kitchen cabinet could work. For example, if the kitchen sink cabinet is on a separate wall, consider taking the doors off the lower cabinets, placing the litter box under the sink, and hanging a curtain to hide the litter box.
You don’t want to place the litter box in a cabinet that houses food or kitchen accessories such as pots and pans. Litter boxes contain a lot of bacteria so you don’t want any cross contamination.
4. IN A PIECE OF FURNITURE
Most pieces of medium to large furniture can house a litter box, if you’re willing to cut a hole to grant your cat access through a small door, so bigger doors can remain closed, hiding the litter box, until you need to clean it.
If you have a long TV cabinet, perhaps you can leave the back off the cabinet and take a shelf out so you can place the litter box inside a compartment. Your cat will be able to access the litter box by going behind the cabinet (just place the cabinet 1 – 2 feet away from the wall), and you can access it to clean by opening a cabinet door.
Alternatively, if the piece of furniture isn’t a family heirloom you plan to use for years to come, consider cutting a hole in the side of the cabinet. You can leave the hole open or install a cat door in it.
LITTER BOX FURNITURE/DECOR
There’s a variety of litter box furniture to choose from, that looks like a piece of furniture such as a coffee table, bench, cabinet, even a potted plant.
WARDROBE, ARMOIRE, CHEST, ETC.
Alternatively, you can go to the second-hand store and find a piece of larger furniture that fits your style and space and has a decent amount of storage space at the bottom. Cut a hole in the side, back or in the door of the cabinet to grant you cat access.
5. ADD A CAT DOOR
The first apartment I ever moved into had a storage room, and the door to it already had a cat door built in. Although I was renting, the building allowed small pets, so they were okay with the previous tenant installing a cat door.
Talk to your landlord about adding a cat door to a closet or storage room door. If they allow pets, they would probably appreciate a dedicated space for the litter box where litter, odors, and cat pee aren’t going to get into the carpet or stain floors. There are several styles of cat doors to choose from here.
WORST SPOTS TO PUT A LITTER BOX IN A SMALL APARTMENT
Each apartment and space is different as is each cat owner’s and cat’s preferences. Only you and your cat can decide which location is best for their litter box, but these are a couple of areas you should consider avoiding.
Your bedroom is not an ideal place to keep your cat’s litter box. You don’t want to be constantly breathing in litter box odors, including ammonia fumes, which can cause serious health issues if you let them build up. Even at low levels, ammonia can cause eye, nose, throat, lung, and skin irritation (source).
It’s also more likely your sleep is going to be disrupted by your cat scratching around in the litter box in the middle of the night or early hours.
Small apartments tend to have small bathrooms, so it’s unlikely a litter box will even fit there. You do not want to shrink the litter box size to accommodate the space. The litter box should be big enough for your cat to stand in and have room to move around. So even if you could squeeze a litter box between the toilet and tub, it’s unlikely that litter box will be big enough for your cat.
Bathrooms also aren’t an ideal spot for a litter box because they get warm and damp; an environment bacteria thrive in. Litter boxes are already breading grounds for bacteria, you don’t need to encourage more to grow.
And unless you and your guests always leave the door open when using the bathroom, your cat may be locked out from using their litter box from time to time. Not a great situation if you want to keep your cat from eliminating outside the litter box.
Unless you live in a mild climate that allows you to keep the door to the balcony open at all times, don’t put the litter box on the balcony. If you have to keep the balcony door closed at times, you’re cutting off your cat’s access to use their bathroom. Trust that they will find another place to go and you likely won’t appreciate that spot.
And if the balcony is noisy (it faces a busy street) or it gets cold, your cat will be less inclined to use the litter box as it doesn’t fit a cat’s basic litter box location criteria. This can also contribute to litter box aversion and your cat eliminating around the apartment instead of in their litter box.
LITTER BOX TIPS FOR A SMALL APARTMENT
Here are a few additional things to keep in mind when living in a small apartment with a cat.
CLEANLINESS IS KEY
Whether you live in a small apartment or not, keeping the litter box clean is extremely important so your cat doesn’t find other places to go.
However, keeping the litter box clean in a small apartment is even more important as the litter box is always going to be close to your clothes/bed/living room/dining room/etc. so you don’t want the odors to get out of control.
Make sure you’re scooping the litter box at least once per day, but more often is even better. As soon as you notice your cat has used the litter box, scoop it into a Litter Genie so the odors of it are contained.
Also keep on top of changing the litter and giving the box a good scrub each time. Although you scoop the waste out each day, there will still be small bits, particles, and bacteria left behind, which is why it’s important to regularly change the litter.
TRAP THE ODORS
Consider purchasing a container with a tight fitting lid, or a Litter Genie. This ensures when you’re scooping the litter each day, you’re not just moving the odors from one open container to another.
A Litter Genie has a “gate” you slide back in order to put waste in the bag, and then it slides back to seal the bag and odors inside. You don’t have to use a new bag each time, the “gate” creates a seal while allowing you to use the bag until it’s full.
FILTER THE ODORS
Try a charcoal odor neutralizer next to the litter box to help absorb odors. You can simply purchase a pouch that hangs or sits in the area, or, if you have a litter box with a built-in filter, make sure you replace the filter frequently and use a charcoal filter.
TRAP THE LITTER
When a litter box is in a spare room and a cat must take several steps to reach the main walking and living spaces, there’s more time for the litter between their toes to fall off. But in a small apartment, your cat’s litter box is probably only a few steps away from where you walk multiple times a day.
Try a few items that can help reduce tracking, such as a high-sided litter box so your cat kicks less litter onto the floor, a litter mat to catch more litter, and perhaps even consider switching to a low-tracking litter. Here are more tips to reduce litter from being tracked around your apartment.
TO COVER OR NOT TO COVER
Many cat owners switch to a covered or top-entry litter box to help hide the waste inside the litter box, keep more litter in the box, and contain more of the odors. But will your cat appreciate a covered or top-entry litter box?
In general, cats don’t seem to have a preference either way (source), however, think about your cat and your litter box cleaning habits.
If you’re not in the habit of scooping every day, a covered litter box will hide the mess so it’s out of sight, out of mind. Which may be nice for you (not to look at a dirty litter box), but it doesn’t benefit your cat.
If you’re good about staying on top of scooping and don’t need the visual or scent reminder, a covered or top-entry litter box may be ideal for your small apartment.
If you do decide to go for an enclosed litter box, consider switching litters to a natural one (such as paper pellet litter) or an unscented, low-dust formula, such as this one. When your cat digs in their litter box, it can kick up a lot of dust when using traditional clay litters. When there is a cover on the litter box, that dust is trapped inside and can cause respiratory irritation for your cat. If your cat is already dealing with a respiratory health issue such as asthma, a covered litter box probably isn’t ideal for them.
Litter boxes with covers often have higher entrances a cat must step over. And top-entry litter boxes require your cat to jump up on top of the litter box to get in and out. If you have a senior cat, or a cat with joint problems or mobility issues, a covered or top-entry litter box likely won’t work for them.
I hope this article has helped you find a place for the litter box in a small apartment 🙂