Imagine returning home with a bursting bladder and finding your bathroom smelly, the toilet unflushed, and toilet paper everywhere. No matter how much you needed to relieve yourself, it would give you pause. Cats who share litter boxes may face the same problem.
One of the top three reasons cat parents hire Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and star of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, is litter box issues. (For more information, see our interview: Cat from Hell Star Reveals the Top 3 Cat Complaints.) For multi-cat households, however, the solution may be as simple as having the necessary amount of litter boxes. “One kitty litter box per cat, plus one extra,” Galaxy recommends.
The cat-to-litterbox ratio
As a cat foster mom, I always recommend that new adopters offer at least 1.5 litter boxes per cat. So, if you have one cat, you will require two litter boxes; if you have two cats, you will require three litter boxes.
Some cats dislike sharing litter boxes, and this ratio allows each cat to have his or her own. Even if they don’t mind expressing themselves, having extra kitty litter boxes on hand ensures that if one of your cats is using one litter box and the dreadful washing machine is running next to the basement litter box, your second cat will still have an appropriate area to relieve himself.
How to Prevent Litter Box Problems
It is possible to have fewer than 1.5 litter boxes per cat and your cats will be OK.
However, one cat may weary of sharing and prefer to relieve himself somewhere else. You should supply him with his own litter box before he thinks your bathroom rug is wonderful for him. Here are several signs that your cat might need another litter box (or a different type):
- Spraying the sides or rear wall of the litter box is a common occurrence, especially with covered litter boxes. Cats may spray the litter box or the area around it to warn others to “keep away.”
- Leaving pee or feces exposed: Some cats never learn to bury their waste, but if your cat suddenly stops burying his urine or excrement, it could be his way of telling other cats, “this box is mine.”
- If your veterinarian screens out any medical causes for the behavior change, your cat may be sending you a clear message that he is unhappy with the current litter box arrangement.
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