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Is the Litter Box in the Right Place?

gray cat next to covered litter box

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A Litter Box too Private

When it comes to taking care of personal business, humans definitely prefer privacy. Cats, however, don’t need as much privacy. Granted, you don’t want to place the litter box right smack in the center of the living room, but you also don’t want it so isolated that it becomes forgotten or difficult to access. Find the right balance between adequate privacy and convenience.

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A Litter Box That’s too Uncomfortable

Does your cat have to squeeze through a pet door to get to the box? Does she have to wedge herself between the tub and the toilet to gain access to the small box you’ve tucked in there? With older cats, keep in mind that arthritis or limited mobility may make it too difficult to access a litter box location that was originally fine during younger years. Make sure the box is in a location that provides comfort and ease of use. Litter box location should be about the cat’s convenience.

A Litter Box That’s too Noisy

Just as you don’t want to locate a box in an extremely remote area of the house, you also don’t want to go to the other extreme and put the box in a high-traffic area. Your cat doesn’t want to be in the middle of personal duties in the box while the children are running around just inches away or the family dog is barking at her. Just as in the paragraph on privacy, provide a healthy balance.

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A Litter Box That’s Not Safe

I think of all the location aversion issues I help clients with, this is the biggest one. If a cat doesn’t feel safe in the litter box, there is absolutely no reason for her to return there. If you have a multicat household and one cat ambushes another in the box, if the dog goes after her or there’s any other reason she might feel anxious about her safety in there, she will seek out other options. Make sure the litter box is located in an area that provides safety and that the set-up itself encourages security (an uncovered box, for example). Don’t put boxes in closets or other locations that limit the cat’s escape potential.

In a multicat household, pay attention to preferred areas of each cat. This way, you can place boxes around the house where each cat spends the most time so one cat won’t have to cross another cat’s territory just to get to the box. Litter boxes should out-number the cats by at least one.

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