Problems With Multi-Cat Litter Boxes

Multi cat litter is often a problem, especially with 2 or more cats in the household. Here are some of the problems and what you can do about them.

Litter Box and Territory Issues

Cats use elimination to establish territory. They hide their waste by covering it. Sometimes they fight over the litter box. The top cat sometimes will not bury its feces or only partially cover it up. This states superiority over other cats. One cat may block entrance to the litter box so other cats can't approach, or feel threatened if they do. The threatened cat may be reluctant to use the litter box and search for another place to go. If your car urinates or defecates outside of the litter box, determine if this is a territorial issue or a real litter box problem.

To avoid this, you might want to have one litter box per cat, plus an extra litter box placed elsewhere. Also, if your home has more than one floor cats access, place litter boxes on each floor.

Cleanliness of the Litter

Cats like clean litter boxes. They will let you know in a variety of ways, some of which are not pleasant (like going on your carpet or favorite chair). They may also meow loudly to get your attention. More frequent use of the multi-cat litter box may lead to issues of cleanliness. Clean the area inside the litter box, the entry and exit points, the flooring, the carpeting or the mat beneath it.

Get Rid Of Litter Box Odor

Urine and feces have an odor. After repeated use, this becomes unpleasant for your cats. To get rid of the odor of multi-cat litter boxes, clean the box with 1 part bleach to 30 parts water. This also helps prevent spread of parasites and recurring infections. Rinse well and dry thoroughly.

Litter Odor May Be The Problem

Sometimes the problem is the odor of the litter itself, especially if you've recently switched litters and the new litter has a scent. Cats usually dislike perfumed litters. Try different brands or types.

Types Of Cat Litter

Cats prefer clumping, non-perfumed litter. If you recently switched from one type of multi-cat litter, whether scoopable cat litter or feline pine cat litter, for example, to another that your cat now dislikes, go back to the original litter. Introduce new litter gradually.

Litter Box Type

Various litter box types are available. Your cats may prefer one type over another. There are small to large litter boxes, hooded, non-hooded, automatic and non-automatic ones, available in many shapes and designs. Keep experimenting until you find one they like best.

Don't place the litter box on carpet. Your cats may decide the carpet feels softer and use it instead of the litter box.

If you've recently switched to an automated litter box, the noise may frighten your cat. Revert to the non-automatic litter box, keeping the automatic one as an alternate until cats become accustomed to it.

Location of the Litter Box

Where your cats' litter box is located is very important to appropriate elimination behavior. Cats need their litter box in a quiet, low-traffic location where they feel safe and secure. They need a means of escape, to be able to see if another cat is approaching to ambush them. In a laundry room, this escape can be the washer or dryer, a cat condo or any high place. If the litter box is in a hallway, make sure it isn't blocked off at the end. Do not place the litter box too close to food and water bowls, or next to where they sleep.

Stress Can Affect Litter Box Behavior

How to avoid litter problems caused by stress:

  • Additional litter boxes and food bowls reduce territorial issues and disputes.
  • Reduce stress level by giving each cat a lot of attention.
  • Play with the cats. Exercise helps redirect energies.
  • Give cats praise when they successfully nab the toy or feather. This helps desensitize cats to each other.
  • Stick to routines. Scheduled feedings, petting and exercise are very important.