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The location of the litter box can create anxiety for both the cat and the human. The human typically wants the box as far away and out of sight as possible. The cat, however, needs the box conveniently located. Since the cat is the one who has to use the box, you need to look at it from her point of view. Would you want to travel down two flights of stairs and then go out to the garage when nature calls? Probably not. Convenience is very important when it comes to taking care of personal business.
You may have the ideal litter box filled with the best litter money can buy and kept beautifully clean but if it’s in a location your cat finds objectionable then you’ve set the stage for a litter box aversion problem. It’s important to view the litter box set-up from a cat’s perspective in order to figure out the best location. What does your cat like when it comes to litter box location? Well, every cat is an individual so you have to take that into consideration but here are some general guidelines:
Cats Don’t Eat Where They Eliminate
This means don’t place the litter box close to the food and water bowls. It comes down to how a cat is hard-wired for survival. They eliminate away from their home in order to avoid attracting predators. Waste is covered as well for that very reason. When you place the litter box near the food it sends a mixed message and can create anxiety in the cat. The reason this set-up can result in a litter box aversion problem is the cat can’t physically move the food and water to another location but she can take herself to another area in order to eliminate.
Balancing Privacy and Vulnerability at the Litter Box
Privacy ranks high on our list when we think about what we want in our bathroom facilities. For a cat, however, the need for safety ranks higher than the need for privacy. When a cat is in the litter box, she’s vulnerable to being ambushed. This is especially the case in multipet households where there is any degree of hostility. Even if there isn’t hostility, one cat entering the litter box area can startle another cat who is in the middle of taking care of business.
I’ve written many times about the need for an escape route from the litter box. When a cat is in there, she needs to have more than one option for a quick departure should she feel threatened. That’s why I generally don’t like the idea of covered boxes. When it comes to location, even if you have an uncovered box, you can create stress if you put the box in a closet, under a piece of furniture or wedge it in a corner.