The litter box plays an important part in the life and happiness of your cat. Your cat is programmed to bury its waste, away from its main living area. Part of their survival strategy as small predators, they do this to prevent odors being traced back to their territory. This trait makes them a perfect pet for indoor living – as long as they do indeed use the litter box.
As much as this is instinctive behavior, cat owners need to take the time to properly "configure" the litter box setup. This is the only way to ensure proper use of the litter box. With some cats, a less than perfect configuration may suffice… until stress levels rise for some reason, and litter box avoidance begins. Help your cat stick to regular litter box habits, by providing her with the best setup possible.
There are many aspects to the right litter box setup. A review of the various aspects, including type of box, number of boxes, type of litter and basic maintenance routine is available here: Litter Box Maintenance.
This article aims at highlighting some aspects of one of the more important litter box characteristics: location. Real estate agents often state that there are three things that make up the worth of a property: location, location, location. Well, the location of your cat's litter boxes can prove to be just as important!
So, here are a few pointers about the best location for your cat's litter boxes –
Keep it Private
Cats prefer to eliminate away from their living areas (the equivalent of "the nest" area). Keeping their litter boxes away from traffic-heavy areas of your home provides them with the sense of privacy and security needed.
Stay away from food and water dishes
Never place litter boxes next to the cat's food and water dishes. In fact, avoid having these at the same room altogether. This goes back to the need to eliminate away from "the nest". If you place them too close, your cat may be forced to make a choice between feeding and using the litter box… and since food is only in the dish, you could be facing litter box avoidance issues.
Keep it Quiet
Make sure your cat isn't startled by any sudden noises while using the litter box. These could be children running by, a door that suddenly opens on the box or a washing machine starting a new cycle. Some cats are more sensitive to sudden noises than others. For these cats, it may only take one bad scare to drive them away from the litter box for good.
Leave an Escape Route
While urinating and defecating your cat feels more vulnerable. Many cats feel better if they have a way to view their surroundings, as well as a possible escape route available, in case of trouble. This can be a major issue in a multi-cat household, especially if one cat is intimidated by another. Think about what happens when one cat is using the litter box and her rival shows up… will she have an easy escape route, or will she feel trapped? If the latter, she may choose to avoid the litter box.
Keep it where you can see it
Litter boxes require constant maintenance. In other words, they need to be cleaned regularly, preferably twice a day. Keep the litter box easily accessible and don't forget to clean it on time. If out of sight means out of mind (or rather out of nose) for you - and possibly neglecting your cleaning routine - then by all means, keep the litter box where you can see it!
Litter Box Location Decisions
When you bring home a cat for the first time, take some time to think about the location of your litter box or boxes. You won't regret it. If you already have a litter box which your cat is using regularly, check and see if this is indeed the ideal setting. However, remember that changes need to be made gradually and with care. You may consider adding another litter box and placing that one correctly and then wait for your cat to be using the new box regularly before removing the old box.
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