Litter boxes can be a challenge for both new and veteran cat owners alike. Not all cats will use the litter box instinctively and must be litter trained. Not to mention, if you have more than one cat, how many litter boxes should you have, ideally? There are some general numbers to follow when it comes to cats using the litter box, and a few things about kitties that you need to keep in mind when “litter planning” for your home.
Can cats share a litter box?
The short answer: It isn’t ideal. I know a lot of you out there are going to say, “My cats share a litter box and its fine as long as you clean it!”, and your cats very well may share a litter box, and it may be just fine for them, but it might be better if they didn’t.
Imagine living in a house with 3 or 4 other people and only having one bathroom. One sink on which to store all your stuff, one shower to bathe in, one toilet to use. That’s kind of what it’s like for a cat to share its litter box with other cats - stressful and a hassle.
Animal behaviorists and veterinarians recommend a simple formula for determining the amount of litter boxes needed: Always have one litter box per cat, with an extra litter box for every two to three cats you have. So, six cats get eight litter boxes, twelve cats get sixteen litter boxes, and so on. We’ve put together a chart for you to reference for litter boxes:
|# of Cats||# of Litter Boxes Needed|
Having multiple litter boxes for your multiple cats is not only good for the cats, psychologically, it will be good for you and your house guests. The biggest complaint people have about cats is the “cat smell” because they use the bathroom indoors.
This is usually only a problem when the litter wears out and stales, and is no longer able to trap or neutralize odors. The more cats you have using the same litter, the faster this happens. If you have more litter boxes available for use, they won’t be overused as quickly, and will be able to trap and eliminate odor. As long as you clean them regularly and stay on top of it all, you should see the ‘cat odor’ reduced or eliminated in your home.
Cleaning that many litter boxes each day is too much!
If it is cost prohibitive to buy that many litter boxes and keep them fresh, then you need to consider if you should own that many cats. If you only have the time and resources to clean one or two litter boxes each day, then you really should only have one or two cats. If you aren’t able to put in the work needed to care for 3, or 4, or 5 cats, then you don’t need them.
You should also consider the size of your house. If you can’t fit 4 or more litter boxes in your house, you need to reconsider if you’re doing the best thing for the animals by having 3 or more cats. If you don’t have room enough to give them their own territory to use the bathroom in, do you really have enough room to support healthy living for the animals themselves?
I know we love our cats, and its a hard question to ask yourself because you’re attached and its easy to feel like you’re being attacked, but honestly consider if its best for the animals. If they don’t have room, they can’t get away and have “alone time”, they have to share their resources with a bunch of other cats, are they really going to be happy and healthy? Take all of these things into account when you get a pet cat.
Now if you already have cats, I am in no way saying you should give up your babies, or that you’re a bad pet parent. You are should not, and you are not. But consider finding ways to give them more room and privacy if you think they need it. And I promise they’ll enjoy having more litter boxes around, and so will you!