A cat sits in its blue litter box.

Think Outside the Box: Answering Common Litter Box Questions

How do you litter box train a cat? Most cats have natural instincts to bury their wastes and will know exactly what to do when you have the right litter and litter box in your home. You need to keep the litter box in an appealing location and keep it clean to encourage your cat to use it.

Just show kitty the litter box and, in most cases, she’ll instinctively do her business and considerately cover up the results too. However, buying the appropriate litter box and filler is important to your cat. Not every litter box and filler is right for every cat, and what works for one may not work for another. Cats, as we know, are individuals with distinct personalities and preferences.

Fortunately, today’s cat lover has myriad choices, and surely one of them will keep your kitty purring. Still, many cat owners have questions when it comes to the litter box.

Here are answers to some of the most pressing litter box queries.

How Many Litter Boxes Should I Have?

You might have wondered how many litter boxes you should have in your house. What’s not enough? Can there ever be too many? These are common questions among both new and experienced cat lovers. The answer depends on how many cats you have and how big your home is. The more floors in your home and the more cats living in it, the more litter boxes you will need.

A good rule of thumb for the number of litter boxes you will need is one litter box per cat PLUS one, OR one litter box per floor. Whichever number is higher, that’s the number you need.

Where Should I Put It?

Location, location, location, just like in real estate, is also vital to successful litter box training. If your cat doesn’t like the litter box’s placement, he may not use it. For example, if you place the litter box too close to the cat’s food and water dishes, the cat may avoid the box. Cats don’t like to eat and eliminate in the same area. If the box is inconveniently located — say, down in the basement or on the top floor — kitty may find it too much trouble to get there, or may not be able to reach it in time. If the box is located so kitty has to brave some stressor to get there, such as a loud appliance or a dominant cat’s territory, he may find a safer place to eliminate.

But, if you obey those litter box rules, you can adapt them to your own living quarters in a functional and attractive way.

How Much Litter Should I Put In It?

How much litter should you put in a litter box is a very important question and can affect how consistently your cat uses it. It’s important to remember that every cat is different and prefers different things. Some cats like lots of litter while others prefer a shallow pan. Some cats take forever to dig and dig to find the perfect spot. Other cats won’t use the bathroom unless they can touch the bottom of the pan.

Not sure what your cat likes? Fill a clean litter box with unused litter. Tilt the box so the litter is deeper on one side than the other. You will want it to be 6-7 inches on one side and 2-3 inches on the other side. Once you’ve done this, put it in a quiet corner and watch where your cat goes when she uses it. Does she like the deep end or the shallow end? After you’ve seen what your cat likes, you’ll know how much litter to use going forward.

How Do I Get Rid of That Smell?

Why do litter boxes stink? That one’s simple. The litter box is your cat’s toilet — of course it’s going to stink! Even the best litters can’t prevent it. Litter can only absorb so much odor. Once the litter is saturated, nothing helps.

Some people constantly complain about litter box odor. But if you do the right things, the odor can be greatly reduced. Here are some tips to help reduce litter box odor: scoop frequently, seal the scoopings, change the litter at least monthly, clean the box regularly, use litter spray, and if it’s been a while, replace the box.

Resources for Litter Box Questions

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