3 litter box mistakes cat parents make
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Stop Litter Box Stress With 3 Easy Tips

Last updated: 11-02-2020

When you see a litter box, does your nose crinkle and your lip curl? Do you fear getting wind of what’s inside the box?

Do you imagine choking on the rancid odor, stepping on the gritty floor soiled with particles and dust? Or are you anxious about seeing a cat ankle-deep in sandy soil doing his business? Fetid feces anyone?

The litter box should not be off-putting to you.

When you’re repulsed by litter boxes, you’re likely to make choices that are convenient for you but not for your cat. And the stakes are high.

stop litter box stress
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I’ve been there.

When I became a cat parent 17 years ago, I had to wrap my arms around the whole litter box thing too. My childhood cat, Mittens, a bushy-tailed Maine coon never had a litter box. She went outside to do her business. And I thought all cats did that.

But don’t worry. Thousands of cat parents just like us have overcome their litter box objections.

Once you grasp the importance of the right litter box set up, the distaste for them (sort of) wears off. You get a confident cat who consistently uses the box, you safeguard your furniture, and your house smells fresh.

Sound good?

Before you start, check out the 3 tips below to learn how to establish the ideal litter box environment in your home.

Mistake #1: Not Enough Litter Boxes

Solution: Use the N+1 rule

This is the most obvious litter box rule, and it’s also the easiest to overlook.

Most vets recommend N+1: one box for each cat (n), plus one extra household box.  This formula can increase the size of your cat’s territory and minimize cat stress.

Litter box stress can include:

  • A filthy box
  • Another cat blocking access
  • Not having their own box
stop litter box stress
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Cats are incredibly territorial and prefer not to share. Multiple litter boxes help your cat overcome these obstacles and reduce the chance of elimination elsewhere.

Mistake #2: Wrong Location

Solution: Don’t put baby in a corner

Let me be the first to admit: finding the right spots to put multiple litter boxes is a struggle.

They aren’t the most glamorous pieces, and—because you probably think about where to put the box after you’ve styled your home—it feels like a big eyesore waiting to happen.

But, the end result is worth your pain.

3 easy tips to stop litter box stress
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“Putting the litter box in the household equivalent of Siberia will often backfire on you,” says “CatWise author Pam Johnson-Bennett.

The wrong location can lead to litter box avoidance and a lot of stress for you and your cat.

See related:

Why You Need More Than One Litter Box Even If You Only Have One Cat

The best place for your cat’s litter box is away from their food, quiet without fear of being spooked by loud sounds, and accessible on all levels of your home. And if you’ve placed them in rooms that you frequent, like your bathroom, it’s easy peasy to keep them sparkling throughout the day.

Mistake #3: Creating a blind spot

Solution: Give her a room with a view

Before you set a single litter box down, ask yourself a simple question:

Can my cat see an escape route from the litter box?

Being bushwhacked in the litter box is a common source of cat stress.

In a multi-cat household, one cat may develop an unrelenting preference for a particular litter box and appoint himself the warden. When another cat tries to use that box, the territorial cat attacks and terrifies the poor kitty trying to do her business. And the traumatized cat may never return. Which is why she needs options.

So, how can you tell if your cat has a good view of predators? The easiest way is to get down on all fours and view the room from your cat’s perspective. Take note of windows too because peeping tom cats looking in can also pose a threat.

Cat tip: If your litter box has a lid and you are experiencing out of box issues, try removing the lid to reduce litter box stress.

stop litter box stress from cat ambush
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Okay, you’re ready to set up multiple litter boxes. Will it be easy?

Yes and no. You have to observe your cat’s behavior, make aesthetic compromises, and adjust for your cat’s quirky personality. But this is how you reduce cat stress and get them to use the litter box instead of your couch.

stop litter box stress
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