Cleaning and maintaining a cat litter box is arguably the worst part of owning a cat, and maintaining more than one litter box makes it all the more so. If you own two cats, it makes sense to want to use one litter box for both felines, but is this hygienic?
While it’s certainly possible to use a single litter box for one cat, it’s far better to use the litter box golden rule: one litter box for each cat, plus one extra. This makes their litter box more hygienic and reduces the chances of fighting. While it may seem counterintuitive, this is actually less work overall than a shared litter box would be.
In the following article, we explain why.
Why cats should have their own litter box
You should have a litter box per cat that you own, plus one extra. There are two reasons behind this reasoning: hygiene and behavior.
The most important reason that cats should have their own litter box is for sanitary reasons. Two cats using one litter box will fill the box rapidly, making it unhygienic quickly. If you’re away from home or don’t get a chance to clean the litter box, not only will your cats be unlikely to use it again, but it can also harbor potentially harmful bacteria, leading to health issues.
Cats are notoriously territorial animals and prefer to have their own private space to do their business. Forcing cats to use the same litter box can cause stress and anxiety for your cats and territorial problems that could lead to fighting. The dominant cat of the pair could block the other from using the litter box, forcing them to urinate or defecate in other parts of your home, or it could even result in your cat delaying their urination and potentially suffering from kidney issues.
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What about self-cleaning litter boxes?
It’s logical to assume that a self-cleaning litter box may be suitable for two cats; since the litter box remains clean, there is less chance of health problems. The problem is that these litter boxes will not be able to clean up all the mess, so the chance of bacteria build-up is still a possibility. The other issue is that your cat will still be able to smell the cat that last used it, possibly resulting in territorial behavior.
Placement of your cat’s litter boxes
Placing your cat’s litter boxes in the same area will largely defeat the purpose of having separate litter boxes, as territorial issues can still ensue. Ideally, you want the litter boxes on separate sides of your home, with a third litter box somewhere in between. This can be difficult in a small home but is vital to increase the chances of your cats using the litter boxes.
Both spots need to be private, quiet, and accessible for your cat. If one area is ideal while the other is noisy or not private enough, it will result in cats fighting to use the same litter box, and since cats prefer quieter areas, it will mitigate the purpose of having two boxes.
What about a bonded pair of cats?
While a bonded pair of cats are far more likely to happily share food, toys, and attention, a litter box is another matter altogether. There may not be the same territorial issues involved (although it’s still possible), but the hygienic aspects still apply. There will simply be too much of a build-up of waste to properly manage, resulting in potential health issues for your cats.
If you own more than one cat, the golden rule of litter boxes should apply—one litter box for each cat plus one extra. Cats cannot share a litter box for two main reasons—behavioral and health—and they will be far happier and healthier when given their own litter box in their own private, quiet space.
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