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Should Cats Share Litter Boxes? (No Not Really!)

A photo of a male cat exiting its litter box

If you live in a household with more than one feline family member, you might wonder whether your cats can share a litter box, or indeed how many litter boxes per cat are required, particularly if you feel like you spend most of your time cleaning up their kitty litter box. 

It can also be frustrating if one of your cats is prone to peeing outside the litter box or seems to want to urinate on your carpet or a particular corner of the living room. What if the litter box options you’ve provided for your cats are the reason why their toileting isn’t going to plan? Can cats share a litter box? Or do they need one each? 

This article will explore the best number of litter boxes to provide in your household, as well as answering common questions you may have about your cats’ litter box habits. 

Is It a good idea for cats to share a litter box?

The most important thing to remember when it comes to cats is that you cannot force them to do something they don’t want to do! So, while some cats are comfortable sharing a litter box, others aren’t keen at all. Cats are very clean animals, and they’re also pretty fussy. So, even if they don’t protest (and I mean dirty protest!) at being made to share their litter tray with another cat, they’ll still want it to be spotlessly clean! 

The truth is that although some cats will tolerate sharing litterboxes, nearly all prefer to have multiple litterboxes to choose from. This means they can inspect each tray and choose whichever suits their needs in terms of privacy, scent, and cleanliness. 

How many litter boxes are needed for one cat?

The best guideline for the number of cat litter boxes to provide in your cat palace is to have one litter box per cat and at least one extra. So, you should provide at least two litterboxes for just one cat. This allows your puss to select the tray that gives them the most privacy and peace. It also means that if you’re out and about and can’t clean their tray immediately, they have another clean toilet ready to go.  

How many litter boxes for two or three cats?

Following the same rule, if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes, and if you have three cats, you should have four litter boxes. This means that your felines can choose a preferred pooping place if they wish. However, they also have other options if their favourite is occupied or in a noisy part of the house. This can help reduce your cats’ stress, improving their bonds with each other and keeping your household harmonious. 

How to use litter boxes correctly

Other factors are important, not just the number of litter boxes. Choosing the best type of cat litter for your cat can help. Cats will often prefer a particular style of  litter box, perhaps one with a roof and a door or one with tall sides. Arthritic or less mobile cats might like a litter box with lower walls, though, and some cats are scared of a cat flap door. It’s all about finding what works best for your kitty. 

The location of the litter box is also important. Choosing a quiet part of the house, away from the footfall, usually works best. Keeping the litter box impeccably clean is really important but try to steer clear of strong-smelling cleaning products because many cats don’t like the scent.  

Here is how to stop aggression around the litter box

By providing more litter boxes than you have cats, you’ll be helping to alleviate or prevent territorial aggression, but there are more measures you can take: 

  1.  Keep the litter boxes as clean as possible to stop them from smelling of any of your cats’ individual scents. Many cats are put off by a litter box that smells of another cat. By keeping it smelling fresh, you’ll also help prevent unwanted accidents.  
  2.  Use calming and anti-stress diffusers near the litterboxes to keep your cats feeling chilled. 
  3. Try adding another litter box. Even if you’re already using the ‘number of cats plus one rule, your cats might still benefit from another tray. 
  4.  Speak to your veterinarian if you are struggling to control your cats’ territorial aggression. 

Can kittens share a litter box?

Kittens are clever and tend to be pretty easy to litter train. Many kittens will share litter boxes while they are young. This is due to their sibling bond and because they are not yet sexually mature. Once they become more mature, their hormones will start to affect their behaviour and scent, and they’ll desire their own space.  

Can cat siblings share a litter box?

You might assume that cats who are siblings will share a litter box, but it’s very rare for adult cats to tolerate sharing a tray regardless of whether they are related. This is also the case with cats of the same gender — many assume that two females will share a litter box, but this is unlikely.