Putting a litter box in a spare, unused bathtub is fine. Just be sure your cat is mobile enough to safely access the litter box and no litter is allowed down the drain.
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It’s okay to put a litter box in an unused bathtub
Putting a litter box in a spare, unused bathtub is okay for most cats.
Just be sure the tub is truly unused.
Don’t use the third tub that still gets used when the other two are busy. Don’t use the shower in the guest bedroom that your Aunt uses when she visits.
Only a legitimately spare bathtub.
Remember, cats need constant, easy access to their litter boxes.
Upsetting their routine by blocking access or by moving its location while the shower is in use can be stressful and may lead to unwanted behaviors like going outside the box.
If the litter box is returned too quickly following a shower, the remaining moisture on the tub floor will be off putting, and may cause further avoidance.
Reintroducing a litter box to a hot, humid room is likely to worsen ‘litter box smell’, encourage the growth of bacteria, and shorten the lifespan of your litter.
Does the bathroom need to be unused?
Though not ideal, it’s not a complete deal breaker if the rest of the bathroom is still used occasionally.
Cats do generally prefer a quiet, secluded, and peaceful area for their litter box. Too much foot traffic and the sounds of flushing toilets and running water may upset some cats.
That being said, most cats won’t be bothered sharing the space on occasion. And it can be considered on a case to case basis.
If you follow the recommendation of having one litter box per cat, plus one, losing brief access to one of the litter boxes while the bathroom is in use is okay for young, healthy, easy-going cats.
Less-mobile cats who may have increased difficulty navigating to their second litter box, aging cats who may be less able to hold their bladder or bowels, and high anxiety cats who are particularly resistant to change are exceptions.
Make sure your cat can comfortably access the tub
Aside from needing constant access to the litter box, ease of access is an important consideration.
While the walls of a bathtub are easy to navigate for most cats — senior cats, overweight cats, and those who suffer from any other condition that affects mobility may have trouble.
Even if your cat is able to clear the tub wall but requires increased effort, it’s best avoided. It will only continue to become more challenging as your cat ages.
If the litter box is placed in a walk-in shower, this is obviously a nonfactor.
And lastly, though it’s a minor consideration, make sure to leave the shower curtain slightly open at one end of the tub.
Don’t let litter go down the drain
Litter should not be allowed down the drain.
Accumulated litter, even in small amounts, can cause blockages or damage pipes in your home, your septic system, or your town’s sewer system.
It’s a particular issue with clumping clay litter, but even plant-based, biodegradable litter can cause issues in a high enough volume.
If soiled litter is allowed down the drain, it can spread harmful pathogens sometimes found in cat waste, like Toxoplasma gondii.
Unfortunately, most wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to manage T.gondii.
T.gondii is an infectious parasite that causes the disease Toxoplasmosis. When T.gondii spreads to local waterways, it can infect otters, seals, and other sea life.
The bathtub drain should be fully blocked.
During cleaning, the tub should be thoroughly cleaned with a mild detergent before rinsing down the drain.
Protect your tub
Bathtubs are susceptible to scratching.
Clay and crystal silica litter in particular pose risk to the smooth surface of your tub, with their jagged, solid edges.
Whether porcelain, acrylic, or enamel, these surface scratches can be a pain to fix.
The best method is prevention.
Avoid walking on litter in the tub during cleaning.
Place a litter mat in the tub to help catch stray litter.
Swap to a softer, plant-based litter like those made from wood fiber, wheat, corn, or paper to further reduce the risk of damage to your tub. As an added bonus, they’re better for the environment and healthier for your cat as well.
An unused bathtub can make a great location for a litter box. Just be sure that the tub is constantly accessible for your cat, your cat has no mobility issues that make climbing into the tub difficult, and that no litter is allowed down the drain.
About Matthew Alexander
Matthew lives in Maryland with his two cats, Puff and Pancho. He’s been caring for and fostering cats with various special needs for more than fifteen years. He hopes to pass some of the insight and knowledge that he’s gained on to the readers of Pawmore.