Where Should You Put Your Cat’s Litter Box? The Best (and Worst) Spots


Where Should You Put Your Cat’s Litter Box? The Best (and Worst) Spots

The wrong spot could lead to a real mess. janelle leeson
janelle leeson By Janelle Leeson December 23, 2022 Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print kitten in litter box; where to put a litter box
kitten in litter box; where to put a litter box Credit: Boonlert Saikrajang / Shutterstock

On This Page

  • Why Litter Box Placement Matters
  • General Litter Box Rules
  • 4 Ideas for Where to Put the Litter Box
  • What About Apartments and Small Spaces?

According to your cat, her litter box should be placed in the middle of an empty room with a 360-degree view. There's no risk of unexpected guests, but her favorite humans are right around the corner. And since she needs at least two litter boxes, there's a second room upstairs mimicking the set-up. This is the "pie-in-the-sky cat world," says Rachel Geller, EdD, cat behaviorist specialist and founder of All Cats All the Time, Inc.

Of course, we don't all have a spare room to dedicate to our cats' litter boxes (and if you do, my cats are jealous). While we might not be able to replicate their perfect bathroom setup, we can compromise on a litter box location that will please everyone.

From studio apartments to multi-story homes, here's where to put your cat's litter box, according to an expert.

Why Litter Box Placement Matters

"Cats feel very vulnerable in their litter boxes," Geller explains. "Once they are in the peeing or pooping position, they become more concerned about all the potential cats [or predators] who could be in their territory—real or imagined."

Feeling insecure in the litter box could mean finding somewhere else to do their business. Of course, litter box placement isn't the only reason your cat might be pooping or peeing outside the litter box. So, before switching things up, schedule a check-up with your vet.

General Litter Box Rules

Number of litter boxes. Here's the golden rule: One litter box per cat plus one. That's right, even in single-cat homes Geller recommends doubling up on litter boxes. Some cats like to poop in one spot and pee in another.

Size of litter boxes. Cats should be able to enter and turn all the way around with ease. The box should be longer than your cat, head to extended tail. The width should be as long as your cat, head to non-extended tail. "Remember, the box you bought when your cat was a kitten will be too small once the cat is fully grown," Geller says.

Substrate type and amount. According to Geller, most cats prefer two to three inches of unscented litter. Fine-grained, soft substrates resemble what cats would use outdoors.

Cleanliness. Scoop boxes twice daily and deep clean them about every two weeks. Regularly check plastic boxes for any scratches that could harbor offensive odors and bacteria, replacing them as needed.

Litter box design. If you're wondering what type of litter boxes cats prefer, Geller says that most like an airy, uncovered box. But a top-entry or covered box works just fine if she's happily using one. As cats age, be on the lookout for any difficulty entering the box—arthritis can make top-entry boxes a feat. And if you welcome home a new kitten, opt for a low-sided box that suits her little legs.

RELATED: 8 Dust-Free Cat Litters for a Healthier Home

4 Ideas for Where to Put the Litter Box

Once you have the right litter boxes and litter, you'll need somewhere to put them. Here are some considerations, according to Geller.

1. A Quiet, but Socially Significant Area

Cats don't want to be startled by the unexpected buzzing of the dryer or interrupted by unfamiliar houseguests. But she doesn't want to venture far from you or her favorite lounging spot, either. "Cats like convenience," Geller explains. "If your cat must pack a lunch, program her GPS, and go on an indoor journey just to get to her box, she may opt for another location."

Basements and laundry rooms are popular choices but not actually recommended. Instead, Geller suggests the bedroom. "Your bedroom is a good location for a cat litter box since it's usually a quiet place," she says. "Plus, your cat can smell a familiar scent—your scent." However, a 24/7 open-door policy is a must, and think twice if you're a light sleeper likely to be woken up by the sound of a cat burying their poop.

2. Private, but With a View

"When choosing a location for the litter box, think about opportunities for a safe escape and a location that provides ample visual warning time to see any invaders or opponents," Geller says. A room with multiple open doors (AKA escape routes) is preferred. If the box can be placed on the opposite side of the room as the entryways, even better.

3. But Not Too Close to the Wall

Geller says sharing a bathroom is great but tucking a litter box under a sink or in a corner isn't ideal—tight spaces block the view and air circulation. "For some cats, sliding the box a few inches away from the wall might increase the security level enough," she says.

4. And Away From Food and Water

Would you want to eat in the bathroom? Neither does your cat. It's tied to survival instincts, Geller says. "They want to pee or poop away from their food to keep predators from finding them."

RELATED: Why Is My Cat Sleeping in the Litter Box?

What About Apartments and Small Spaces?

Geller specializes in the adoption of cats and the prevention of their surrender and abandonment. That means she's dedicated to finding creative ways to happily coexist with cats. If you have questions about where to place a litter box in a small space, Geller has the answers.

"Sometimes small apartments have odd nooks and spaces that aren't useful," she says. Turn the space into a cat nook with a non-damage tension rod and a curtain. "The curtain hides the litter box but ensures your cat will never be locked out of the space." Room dividers can also be used in place of curtains.

If you have two shallow bookcases, Geller says that can be the perfect solution to litter box woes. "Place the bookshelves a few feet apart and use a tension rod to hang a curtain between them," she explains. By pulling the bookshelves a foot or two away from the wall, you'll add extra depth and provide your cat with a private, secret entryway.

Geller's final thought: Not all cats share the same needs and preferences. Whenever in doubt, listen to your cat, though it may take some trial and error.

RELATED: Litter-Robot 4 Review: Read This Before You Buy The Newest Automated Litter Box

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