You should have a litter box on every floor of your home. Upstairs, downstairs, in the basement — any level your cat can reach. This gives them easy access to a litter box at all times. In multi-cat homes, it can help prevent resource guarding and other territorial behavior.
Reduce Territorial Behavior with a Litter Box on Every Floor
Having a litter box on every floor may help to prevent, or at least reduce the impact of territorial behavior.
In multi-cat homes, dominant cats will sometimes guard resources. Whether food, water, or the litter box. This can be a problem for more submissive cats.
By placing a litter box on every floor of your home, submissive cats will have access to another option, well away from their bullying brother or sister.
Senior Cats Need Increased Accessibility
As your cat ages, the time between ‘feeling the urge to go’ and ‘needing to go right now’ shrinks.
Kittens and cats with medical conditions or mobility issues may also have difficulty making it to the litter box in a timely fashion.
Having a litter box on every floor of your home will provide your cat easy access to a litter box, no matter where they are. Which will, in turn, improve their quality of life and help prevent accidents.
While on the subject of senior cats, be sure to provide litter boxes with low entry walls for ease of access. As your cat ages, climbing over a standard height litter box will become a challenge.
Cats are subject to many of the same gastrointestinal issues as people. And, as we probably all know, sometimes nature comes calling quickly.
Having a litter box on every floor will help to prevent some of the accidents associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and other GI or urinary problems.
As always, if your cat goes outside the box or is straining to go, it can be a sign of a serious medical issue. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
Cats Prefer Peace While Eliminating
In the wild, cats search for secluded areas to handle their business. They don’t want to be found in such a vulnerable state by predators.
Unfortunately, our homes aren’t always the most peaceful, quiet places.
If your cat only has litter boxes downstairs, and you’re hosting a party, cleaning, having your leaking sink fixed, or any number of other not-so-quiet human things, they may be hesitant to come out of hiding to use the litter box.
If they had a secondary option, like a litter box upstairs in the quiet guest bedroom, it wouldn’t be an issue.
How Many Litter Boxes Exactly?
Even if you have a litter box on every floor of your home, you may still need more.
Experts recommend having at least one litter box per cat, plus one extra.
So for example, a two-story home with three cats will require four total litter boxes. Simply having one on each floor is insufficient.
In a three-story home with one cat, you may think that two total litter boxes are enough. But it’s still recommended to have three. One for each floor.
Litter Box Spacing
When you have more than one litter box on the same floor, they need to be sufficiently separated.
When litter boxes are right next to each other or too close together, you lose many of the benefits of having multiple boxes entirely. Your cats will view them as though they’re a single litter box. And if the room is loud or hectic, they may avoid using both.
Place them in different rooms, preferably on opposite ends of the house. If that’s not realistic, keep as much distance between the two as possible.
Choose Cat-Friendly Locations
Many cats won’t like somewhere too confined, like in a cabinet or closet.
Remember, some cats are instinctually on high alert for predators when they use the litter box. Having a secondary escape route may be important to them.
Each litter box should be constantly accessible.
If you keep one of the litter boxes in a bathroom, but close the bathroom door when you shower, your cat will lose access during that time.
Keep the litter boxes well away from food and water. That means no litter boxes in the kitchen, dining room, or near your cat’s food and water bowls.
Having a litter box on every floor of your home will increase your cat’s quality of life and help prevent accidents, like going outside the box. Senior cats, kittens, and cats with mobility issues, in particular, require a litter box on every floor.
- Bernstein P. L. (2006). Behavior of Single Cats and Groups in the Home. Consultations in Feline Internal Medicine, 675–685. https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-72-160423-4/50074-3
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.