Where you put the litter box can have a big impact on your cat’s litter box behaviour, so you want to find the best place in your home. Good litter box behaviour means they’re using the litter box every time. Bad litter box behaviour means they’re sometimes (or maybe all the time) going outside the litter box.
You obviously want your cat to use their litter box 100% of the time, so it’s important to create the right litter box situation for them. There are several elements that can make or break the litter box for your cat, location is one of those very important elements.
Let’s take a look at an ideal litter box location, the best spots, and the worst spots.
BEST PLACE TO PUT A LITTER BOX
The best place to put a litter box is in a spare room or space that both you and your cat visit or walk past every day (the garage is not a good option).. The litter box location must first please your cat, and then please you. If you choose a spot you prefer because it’s out of sight, out of mind, it’s more likely your cat won’t use it and then you’ll have a bigger problem on your hands. Here are a few common places for a litter box:
1. SPARE BEDROOM
A spare bedroom or office that you commonly walk past or into is a good spot for the litter box. It won’t be so high traffic that your cat will be startled while using it, but will get enough traffic that you’ll remember to clean it each day.
2. SPARE BATHROOM
Due to the moisture in bathrooms, they’re not typically ideal spots for the litter box. However, if you have a second bathroom that isn’t used as frequently, it may be an appropriate spot. It’s important the spare bathroom isn’t in the cold dark basement no one ever visits, but also that it’s not used often enough that there’s a chance your cat may be locked out when they need to go.
3. LIVING ROOM
The living room may not be a cat owner’s top choice when it comes to places for a litter box, however, it may be what’s ideal for your cat. A living room is a comfortable spot in the house that everyone uses. You can tuck the litter box in a corner or behind a room divider so it’s not the first thing you see when you walk in the room. Having it in this room will ensure you stay on top of cleaning it and your cat won’t feel like they have to go to an uncomfortable room in the house to go to the bathroom.
Once your cat’s needs are put first, then you can compromise and find a spot that doesn’t make you miserable every time you walk past it.
LITTER BOX PLACEMENT
It’s important to keep your cat’s instincts in mind when choosing the best location for the litter box.
A cat’s natural instinct is to eliminate away from where they might eat or nest and to hide that waste so they don’t attract predators. Smaller, weaker cats, or mothers with kittens, want to eliminate someplace they feel safe, and they don’t want the scent of their waste to attract predators.
With that in mind, you can understand why it’s important to choose a litter box location that makes your cat feel safe; assured they can’t be ambushed from behind and will be able to escape if need be. Sure, it may just be you and your cat in the house with no predators, but your cat is an animal with animal instincts built-in.
It also makes it easier to understand why you shouldn’t place a litter box next to your cat’s food, or where they like to sleep. And why they prefer a clean litter box that keeps their scent at bay.
However, cats may choose not to cover their waste if they’re feeling territorial and want to show other cats or animals who the boss is.
If you have multiple cats or animals in your house and your cat is feeling territorial, then it’s important for them to have a space that’s (mostly) theirs, where they won’t be bothered by other animals and can have their scent dominate the space. Otherwise, they may start marking outside the litter box in an attempt to tell other cats to stay away.
12 TIPS FOR BEST LITTER BOX PLACEMENT
The litter box doesn’t need to be in the middle of the living room to make your cat happy, but it can’t be tucked away in a dark corner of the house you never visit except to scoop and change the litter.
The exact location or the room the litter box goes in will vary depending on each home’s layout and use. But here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to where you put the litter box.
Your cat doesn’t want the litter box placed on a level or in a room where no one ever goes, but they also don’t want it next to a noisy laundry machine or central vac that can turn on without notice and scare them.
They want to know if any “danger” is approaching, so a quieter room that’s off the main living space is ideal.
Putting a litter box next to a front or back entrance may not work if you or family members have a tendency of barging into the house. If your cat will hear the sound of your footsteps coming up the stairs before you gently unlock and open the door, it may be a more appropriate spot. But if you have kids who come home from school, barge through the door, and yell for a snack, it’s probably not an ideal location for your cat.
Your cat doesn’t want a spotlight on them when they go to the washroom but they do want to be able to see their surroundings and know there aren’t any predators hiding in the corner.
Cat’s feel safe when they can see any “predators” approaching and have their backs covered. A litter box in a fairly open room, without objects and corners for other animals to hide behind is ideal. And if you can place the litter box against a wall so they can use it with their back to the wall while surveying the room, even better.
You also want the litter box to be comfortable for them to use. If your cat has mobility issues, don’t put it anywhere they must jump up to or have objects they have to step over. It should be spacious enough for them to move around, which means no tight spaces that force them to crouch down or don’t give them enough room to spin around.
Your cat doesn’t want to go to an obscure area of the house, but they do still want some privacy. If the living room is the best spot for their litter box, try to place it behind a piece of furniture or screen.
5. AWAY FROM FOOD
A cat’s natural instinct is to keep their waste away from where they eat, so the scent from their waste doesn’t help to attract predators. If a litter box must be in the same room as their food dish, it should at least be kept several feet away from the litter box.
The litter box shouldn’t be too far off the beaten path. You don’t want your cat to feel like they must trek a mile to go to the washroom several times a day, or they’ll find someplace more convenient for them.
You also want it close to a path you take through the house each day so it’s easy for you to remember to scoop the litter box daily. A messy litter box will encourage your cat to find someplace cleaner to eliminate.
7. FULL ACCESS
Don’t put a litter box in a spot where the door can be closed and deny them access. Whether that’s in the bathroom where you or guests close the door while using the space, or in a closet where doors may be accidentally closed.
If your cat needs to use the washroom and they find a closed door, they’ll happily go find another spot to do their business. However, you may not be so happy about that spot.
If you are placing the litter box in a room or closet where the door may accidentally be closed by children, guests, or when your mind is someplace else, consider a doorstop like this one so your cat doesn’t get locked out.
8. DRY & COOL
Litter boxes are a breeding ground for bacteria, and bacteria thrive in warm moist conditions. So a bathroom with a shower that’s frequently used and creates a warm, damp environment, isn’t ideal for a litter box.
Also, heat can make litter box smells worse. Remember, your cat is covering their waste to reduce their smell, so if you’re not on top of your litter scooping and changing, odors can quickly get out of control.
If there are several items sitting around the room, ones that are ideal for your cat to dig in (e.g. piles of laundry, it’s more likely your cat will use those items to dig in when their litter box isn’t up to their standards.
Let’s be honest, even the best of cat owners forget to scoop the litter box once and a while. You don’t want your cat to get to the litter box, decide it’s not quite up to their standards and see another perfectly acceptable spot just a few steps away.
10. AWAY FROM OTHER LITTER BOXES
Every cat should have more than one litter box, here’s why. When you only have one cat and they’re good at using the litter box, the second litter box helps ensure, if you miss a day of scooping, your cat still has a clean litter box. In this situation, it will likely work to keep the second litter box in the same room, but several feet away from the other litter box.
If your cat has a tendency to eliminate outside the litter box, additional litter boxes should be spread throughout the house/in spots your cat likes to go to the washroom.
And if you have multiple cats in a household, you want each cat to feel like they have their own territory when going to the washroom. The more aggressive and territorial one cat is over the litter box, the further away you want to place the other litter boxes.
11. ON EACH LEVEL
If your cat is a senior, has mobility issues, or any type of issues that might affect how much they have to use the litter box (e.g. kidney disease, diabetes, etc.), it’s a good idea to have a litter box on each level of the house.
If your cat needs to go pee, but the litter box is all the way up or down a flight of stairs, they may have a hard time getting to it on time.
You don’t want your cat to feel cramped when they go to use the litter box. If the litter box or litter box area is too small, they may feel compelled not to use it.
WORST SPOTS FOR A LITTER BOX
There are a few locations that aren’t typically ideal for a litter box. Consider avoiding these locations if possible.
LITTER BOX IN A BATHROOM
Placing the litter box in your main bathroom isn’t ideal because of the warm, damp environment the shower can create. It also means your cat may not have access to their litter box 100% of the time.
If it’s just you and your cat, you may leave the door to the bathroom open when you’re using it. But if you have other people living with you, or frequently have guests over, the door to the bathroom may sometimes be closed when your cat needs to use the litter box.
They can’t exactly knock on the door, ask how long you’ll be, and hold it. They have no idea when they’ll have access to their litter box again and may decide to find somewhere else to go.
LITTER BOX IN THE BEDROOM
Although your cat may not mind their litter box being in your bedroom, it’s not ideal for you. You don’t want to be sleeping next to litter box odors and the ammonia fumes 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).
Not to mention, cats don’t have the same sleeping patterns you do and are more likely to get up and use the litter box in the middle of the night. The sound of them scratching in their litter box and the smells may wake you up.
A spare bedroom isn’t ideal either if you may occasionally have guests sleeping in it. It’s unlikely your guests want to sleep in the same room with your cat’s litter box and your cat likes consistency. They don’t want to all of a sudden find a human taking over their space, the door closed when they need to use the litter box, or their litter box moved for the night because a guest is sleeping in there.
LITTER BOX IN THE BASEMENT
If the basement is a dark, damp spot where no one hangs out, including your cat, it’s not where you want to place a litter box. Not only does your cat have to walk down a flight of stairs to get to the litter box, which may not be appealing when your cat is feeling lazy or doesn’t have complete control of their bladder. But it’s also out of your sight and mind.
Your cat’s litter box must be scooped daily. If you don’t walk past the litter box on a daily basis, you’re less likely to remember to scoop it.
If your basement is finished and it’s an area both you and your cat often hang out, it may be an appropriate spot for the litter box. Remember not to place it next to any noisy machines or even something like where the laundry shoot ends. Loud noises or sudden movements can startle your cat and they’ll associate that experience with the litter box and be wary to use it.
I hope this article has helped you determine where to put the litter box in your home 🙂