I’ve had multiple cats in this household, and had enough go through this home, for long enough to realize they’re a really strange bunch.
And while usually their quirky, odd behaviours are just fine – being neutral or even positive and pretty sinkin’ cute! – when it comes down to their behaviours around litter boxes, you want to be very careful.
See here’s the thing – most cats come with an instinct to cover up their poop and thus no cat I’ve taken off the street (and all my cats have been strays) needed anything like litter training. But if something is off with their litter box or with them?
There’s bad news for you as a cat owner because that litter box isn’t going to be used and you’ll be met with unfortunate surprises a lot of the time that you didn’t want to clean up.
I’m going to take you through some of the things that can happen if you try to get a cat to share a litter box when there are two cats in the same home and only one box, and then I’ll explain the odd quirk of felines that makes it so.
Then I’ll explain how many to have and where to have them, as this is incredibly important, too.
Why You Shouldn’t Have Only 1 Litter Box if You Have More Than 1 Cat
Things That Can Begin to Happen if You Only Have 1 Litter Box for 2 Cats
Making your cat share a single litter box in your home is not ideal to the point where it’s not just one litter box less than recommended, it’s two.
Technically speaking, the perfect number of cat litter boxes is the number of cats in your home plus one. So if you have two cats, you should ideally have 2+1 litter boxes, so three. 3 cats? You should ideally have 4.
I’ll get into this why in a second, but first let me tell you some of the very many things that can start happening if you don’t have enough litter boxes in a house with multiple cats…
One cat may begin to pee on the floor, sometimes even right in front of you….
Seem like they pee way more often than they should and thus make you feel they might have a UTI…
Your cat can even begin to regularly pee on you, like when you’re just hanging out with your cat on your lap watching TV…
Your cat can poop on the floor, even when they have no history of ever having done this before…
Your cat can also poop whenever you clean the litter box, immediately, like it’s the only time he or she can…
Introducing a second cat to your home has often lead to old cats peeing everywhere when they never used to. It’s a common issue, and can eve happen if you brought both cats in at the same time, or brought both cats in from the same litter, even. So please beware.
There are plenty more things that can take place, but you get the picture by now, surely.
They’re not good things, and if it’s happened to you and you have this kind of set up, know that it’s really now time to get another litter box. I will explain why in a second, and why it’s also not good to have them in specific locations over others…
Why Can’t Cats Share a Single Litter Box?
Watching cats over the years I’ve noticed their litter behaviours are very particular and actually quite peculiar.
A lot of times, cats will guard litter boxes even more than food sources, and scare away litter mates and other cats in the home by chasing them off, shooing them away and even smacking them to keep them from entering, using, or being around litter boxes.
They don’t seem to like sharing litter boxes, even if they really, really like the other cat. And they’ll put up with it usually, but every so often, I’ll see even two of my cats who really, really like each other and are practically twins go shoo off the one of the cats that’s going into the litter box in front of them.
I think it’s more than a territorial thing, if I’m honest, because cats will often do this to cats they have no problem sharing food with, even. So it’s definitely unusually territorial, way more than any other behaviour I’ve personally seen.
And yes, this prevents that cat from peeing in the litter box at that moment. The first cat successfully scaring the cat away means the cat can’t go at that moment. And holding pee for too long can lead to health problems like UTIs.
It is also likely to lead your cat to relieve him or herself elsewhere. Or hold it until it’s too late and then accidentally let it go when they’re on your lap, cuddling and super relaxed and, whoops, there it goes.
So many negative outcomes can come from only having one litter box that it’s a pretty awful thing to do to a cat. And this can all happen without you being aware – especially since two cats that get along swimmingly and love each other dearly can still do this to each other.
But why? Maybe there’s something biologically within them that tells them not to share litter spots in nature.
Like it increases the chances that predators will come because if there are two cats and they are easy prey for a predator, than a predator will go after the group of cats?
That’s my best guess, but if you can think of more, let me know in the comments, because it is pretty peculiar to me how consistent this behaviour is whether cats like each other or not.
Okay, So How Many Litter Boxes and Where?
How many litter boxes? At minimum – in my opinion – the same number as the number of cats you have. Ideally, which is oh-so-much better – the number of cats you have in your house + just one extra litter box for good measure.
If you absolutely must save on litter box space, I would recommend getting even a few narrow litter boxes like these to put in odd places around the house.
It’s better to have options for your cats, even if they aren’t the most ideal (the most ideal being large litter boxes so cats have room in there), because you want a cat who’s been chased away from a litter box to be able to run off to another one and use it in peace.
Speaking of which, the placement of your litter boxes should be spread apart. So ideally, not in the same room. A lot of cats will guard the litter boxes and if they’re all grouped together, that means none of them can be used by a cat who’s being chased away.
I have one cat litter box in a hallway, and the other three in rooms. Check out this guide to learn what spots are ideal for cat litter boxes. But in general, a safe bet if you have 2 cats is to have 3 litter boxes in different areas of the house.
Cats also prefer to go to a litter box that’s nearer to them and not too far. So make sure if you have a two storey house, for instance, to not have all the litter boxes on one floor, or in the basement, for instance.
Your cat may not make it in time, or suspect that they have to go now, and thus go in a blanket or something along those lines upstairs instead!
Make it easy for them. As easy as you’d want it to reach a bathroom in time if you were in urgent need of going #1 or #2.
Your Thoughts on Multi-Cat Home Litter Boxes?
Do you have any thoughts or any advice or stories to share about cats and litter boxes? Have your cats ever squabbled over the litter box, even when they’re usually best of friends?
Have you ever found you needed more litter boxes to keep your cats happy? How many do you have in your house and how many cats do you have? Do you have any tips or tricks for making sure cats use litter boxes in peace without being disturbed by other cats?
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!