The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

Top 5 Ways to Avoid Litter Box Problems

By Bradley Phifer

The litterbox is an essential part of owning a cat. Albeit not the most rewarding part, but certainly necessary. With so many choices of litterboxes, types of litter and owners personal preferences, it can be tough sometimes to create the best elimination area for our cats. Follow these simple tips to promote appropriate litterbox habits with your cat:

  1. Location, Location, Location: we are often inclined to place the litter box in an isolated area such as the basement, or next to the washer and dryer. These areas are ideal for cat owners, but can pose challenges for our cat. The litterbox must be in a convenient location which is easily accessible. In multi-level houses, or multi-cat homes, placing litterboxes on both floors and in a few different locations will decrease the risk of cat-on-cat conflict. Offering the cat a visual advantage will ensure he isn’t startled, or ambushed by other animals while eliminating. If using his litterbox is an unpleasant, or unsafe event, he will find a new place to go.
  2. Not too much, not too little: the amount of litter you place in the box is important. Feline behavior experts recommend a three to four inch layer of scoopable litter to allow for the cats natural need to dig around prior to eliminating and for burying their feces.
  3. Number of litter boxes: Cats often prefer not to share their toileting area. There should be at least one litter box per cat to avoid a problematic situation. Ideally, if you live in a multi-cat household, offer one box per cat plus one. Litterboxes should also be placed in different locations and on each level of your home.
  4. Size and type matter: the box has to be large enough to physically support your cat. He needs to be able to walk in, turn around, and eliminate. For mutli-pet households we recommended you not use covered boxes, because of the risk of ambush from other pets. Electronic litterboxes are convenient, but the size, noise and type of litter required by some boxes can be aversive to cats. Keep it simple and buy a plastic litterbox.
  5. Keep it clean: litterboxes should be scooped out twice a day. Once per week the litterbox should be emptied and cleaned with soap and water.

If your cat begins to eliminate in areas other than his litterbox, you should first call your veterinarian. Many medical conditions can cause a change in a cat’s litter box habits. If your veterinarian determines that your cat is healthy, the cause may be behavioral. Most litterbox behavior problems can be resolved by using behavior modification techniques.

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