There are lots of things that come with adopting a cat: choosing a name, rigorous playtime, routine feedings, and all the cuddles and purrs.

Then, there’s the litter box.

Litter boxes are unavoidable.

Usually, your cat discovers the box and uses it with precision. But sometimes, they miss—by a long shot—and piddle on your carpet, your clothes, or your rug.

Rancid. Vile. Odious.

This is not an understatement when your cat urinates outside the litter box. That’s known as litter box avoidance—aka peeing outside the litter box—which can be symptomatic of a serious medical issue, sudden household stress, or chronic anxiety.

To prevent unwanted behavior, follow these seven simple tips to find out how many litter boxes you need in your home.

Table of Contents

  1. How many litter boxes should you have in your house?
  2. Is it OK for cats to share a litter box?
  3. How do I get my litter box to stop smelling?
  4. Is your cat pooping on the floor?
  5. Can you put a litter box anywhere?
  6. How do I keep the litter box from smelling up the house?
  7. Do you know what type of litter your cats prefer?
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1. How many litter boxes should you have in your house?

For every cat in your home, you need one litter box, plus one extra. For example one cat = 2 litter boxes, 3 cats = 4 litter boxes., and so on. The benefit of the extra litter box is to keep things cleaner for your cat and to cater to his location preference. Doing so will go a long way to preventing medical and behavioral issues.

At every level in your home, you should have a litter box and a cat litter scooper. That way, your cat never has to go very far.

Even though your cat is likely to gravitate toward using one box most of the time, having one on every floor keeps them accessible, especially in an emergency.

This is particularly true when you have kittens who haven’t learned to climb the stairs yet or an older cat who moves slowly.

cat looking at litter box

2. Is it OK for cats to share a litter box?

Cat ambush is one of the leading causes of cat pee outside the litter box.

Some cats will claim ownership of a litter box and guard it so that no other cat can use it.

Follow the N+1 rule: one box for each cat + one extra. And it will be impossible for your territorial cat to guard them all at once.

Now, each cat will have a safe place to do his business without fear.

See related:

3 Easy Tips to Stop Litter Box Stress

3. How do I get my litter box to stop smelling?

Cats have an acute sense of smell. About ten times (or more) as strong as people. That’s one of the reasons they’re such skilled predators.

And we all know that cat urine is distinctively malodorous. By the time we smell the box, imagine how it smells to your cat.

When a litter box smells too much of another cat or is dirty, your cat may not use it.

So, multiple litter boxes help keep odor in check for humans and cats.

cat sniffing litter box

See related:

How to Get Rid of Cat Urine Smell: 3 Remarkably Easy Tips

4. Is your cat pooping on the floor?

Some cats don’t like to co-mingle pee and poop in the same box. They also don’t like it when the box is full.

It’s that simple.

Multiple litter boxes practically guarantee there will always be one clean box available when nature calls.

However, sometimes pooping or peeing outside the box is a medical condition. So, if you have the right number of boxes and they are clean, have your vet check for medical problems.

5. Can You put a litter box anywhere?

Location. Location. Location.

The litter box needs to be in a quiet convenient location. Like the bathroom or home office.

Not located off in the backwoods equivalent of your home, also known as the garage or a closet or that extra weird room in the basement that nobody ever visits.

Placing boxes throughout the house means kitty will never be too far away when they need to do their business and you won’t forget to clean them.

cat next to litter box

6. How do I keep the litter box from smelling up the house?

Generally, you should scoop every litter box twice per day and clean them entirely once per month.

The longer cat urine is allowed to sit, the more it starts to decompose and release a foul odor into your home.

However, not everyone can run around with a scooper and poop bags all day so having multiple boxes means that no box will ever get too full.

Even distribution of the load minimizes a concentration of smell emanating from one litter box.

7. Do you know what type of litter your cats prefer?

Like humans, cats have preferences.

In a multi-cat household, different cats might like different types of cat litter or they might prefer different locations.

Multiple boxes offer the ability to cater to your cat’s needs.

My cats went through a phase where they preferred blue litter boxes. Could it be because that is one of the few colors cats can see? I have no idea. But they used it. And I like that.

litter box

The truth is, cats really aren’t that complicated.

They’re territorial. They’re habitual. And they need to feel safe in their space.

And it’s these reasons why it’s absolutely critical to know how many litter boxes you need, and why it’s always more than one even if you only have one cat.

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