In multicat homes you should carefully choose locations for the litter boxes. Just having seven litter boxes for seven cats isn’t adequate enough if all the boxes are lined up in one room. Take into consideration that one cat may not want to cross another cat’s preferred location. Litter boxes should be scattered around to reduce the chances of confrontation. If a cat feels frightened about crossing another cat’s location just to get to the litter box, she may decide it’s easier to just pee or poop on the carpet rather than risk a physical fight. Additionally, if she knows there’s a good chance she’ll get ambushed while in the box she’ll probably avoid that box altogether. That’s why it’s up to the cat parent to create a safe environment when it comes to the litter box set-up. Humans can lock the bathroom door to ensure no one barges in on them but cats don’t have that option. Ideally, you should more litter boxes than cats and the boxes should be scattered around the house so each cat has at least one box in their own preferred core area.
Note: There are, of course, many reasons a cat may not use the litter box, so if your cat has begun eliminating outside of the box, please consult your veterinarian.
Unsure About Whether Your Cat Feels Safe in the Litter Box?
Your cat’s behavior in the box can provide clues as to whether she’s at ease or nervous in there. A nervous cat may jump in, eliminate and then bolt right out of there because she doesn’t want to risk drawing attention to her presence. There are, of course, several other reasons why a cat may do a hit-and-run elimination attempt, so make sure you’ve addressed any potential medical issues as well as doing a good job of keeping the box clean. If you’re unsure about whether your cat is uncomfortable or nervous, set up a surveillance camera near the box so you can watch her behavior as she approaches, enters, and exits. On video, you may discover the approach of another cat or some kind of interaction that creates stress. Video is a great way to gather evidence in order to find the most accurate and effective solution. Video can also be used to show your veterinarian if you have questions.
Need More Information on Cat Behavior?
You can find specific information on how to create a litter box set-up and address litter box problems in the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Her books are available at bookstores everywhere, through your favorite online book retailer and on our website.
This article is not intended to diagnose a medical condition. Please consult your veterinarian if your cat’s behavior has changed as it may be an indication of an underlying medical problem.
If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care.