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Litter Box Dilemmas Solved

By Beth Adelman

Litter Box Dilemmas Solved

You have probably put a great deal of thought into making the right selections for the litter box and litter material that best meets the unique needs of your cat.  Not to mention the routine you created for regular cleaning and maintenance.  You may be surprised to learn, however, that litter box location is also a big issue for many cats. It can mean the difference between your feline going in the right place, or somewhere else, such as on your favorite carpet. And no one wants that.  Not even your cat!

As you might guess, most cats prefer a private place to conduct their bathroom business, so the key to proper litter box placement is to avoid putting it where there might be a lot of noise or people frequently coming and going.  The family room and the kitchen, as examples, would be unattractive locations from your cat's point of view.

On the other hand, cats want their box to be convenient, and easily accessible. The basement or garage are therefore less than desirable choices. You can imagine, of course, that your cat would also not want its box in areas that are cold, dark, damp, or cluttered with lots of stuff.  Plus, when the box is hidden away, you might forget to do the necessary regular maintenance.

Additionally, you never want to put the box anywhere near your cat's food and water dishes.  Cats are naturally programmed to eliminate in locations that are far away from their food and water supply.  Here's why:  In the wild, cats know never to leave their own scent in a place that might attract hungry predators.  It is important that the place they eat, and the place they eliminate, are always separated.

So, where would your cat prefer to find its box?  One option is in a bathroom.  The benefits of this location are many.  It's easy for you to clean, as well as being easy for your cat to find, and get in and out.  One note: after you take a shower, the litter may become damp. So if the bathroom is the location of choice, it's important to leave the box uncovered at all times. You will also need to make sure the bathroom door is open a majority of the time -- even when guests stop by.

The laundry room can also work well for some cats because it is a warm, clean room that doesn't get a lot of foot traffic. On the other hand, if your pet is a scaredy cat, you might think twice about the laundry room. If it happens to be in the litter box when the washing machine spin cycle kicks in, your pet may end up fearful of the litter box from that day forward.

Other options include: off to the side at the top of the stairs, or the corner of a quiet room in the house. The end of a rarely used hallway might also work. Putting the box in a more open space comes with an added advantage for multi-cat households. When a cat is in the litter box, it can see other felines approaching and will not feel cornered and uncomfortable.

Finally, remember that even if you have just one cat, you may need more than one litter box -- especially with kittens and older cats, which have less control over their bladders. Think of it this way:  People tend to like having a bathroom on each floor of the house, and most cats do too.

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Posted on April 6, 2009

suz says: my cat poops on the carpet, and in litter box... i have changed the litter. could this be it?

Posted on June 17, 2009

Bob says: my 13 year old male began pooping in the bathtub a while ago. Now he does it all the time. I have no problem with it. His movements are larger healthier and more regular. Great. I just keep amonia and a sponge handy and that's it.

Posted on March 4, 2009

Nancy says: I have a !yr. old male indoor cat. He always uses his litter box But he stepes in his poop and tracts it around the house. I clean the box twice a day. It is also a lge. box so there is plenty of room. what do I do?

Posted on March 5, 2009

Shelly says: Our 7 year old cat now has taken to not using the litter box to poop. Will poop on the floor around it. Any ideas?

Posted on July 13, 2008

Jim says: My 3 year old male cat quit using the litter box for pooping (not urinating) a year and a half ago. This occurred when another male cat we had passed away. We still have two cats and the female does fine. We clean the litter box everyday and replace newspaper around it which the male uses and trys to cover up. Otherwise his behaviour seems normal. Help!

Posted on February 22, 2008

Mary says: Why does my seven year old domestic cat, in our home only five weeks now, decide to use her litter box most of the time and then decide to defecate partly in the litter and then finish on the floor or carpet? Also she does not cover her mess. Thanks!

Posted on March 19, 2008

amy smith says: my girl cat i call her wabbie, she likes the master bathroom, so i close the door, she likes the upstairs rugs, she also likes my BED, SHE URINATES ON THEM. i have not changed anything, she just seems to do this

Posted on January 23, 2008

Harry Petersen says: My cat used to urinate and poop in the litter box. Now he urinates in the litter box and poops in the other bathroom bathtub. We only have the one cat. Can you help us eliminate this problem. We keep the litter box clean at all times. We use clumb type litter "Arm and Hammer" Thanking you in advance for your help. Harry.

Posted on August 28, 2011

Donnetted says: My 11 y/o male has stopped using the litter box. He has ruined the spare bed and all the linens by peeing and pooping all over the bed. He is sleeing in the closet and using the bed for his litter box. His food has always been in that room so I don't know what his issue is.

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