How Many Litter Boxes Do You Need In An Apartment?

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There’s a general rule that you should have – minimum – the same number of litter boxes as you do cats. Or one more additional litter box per cat that you own. So, for example, you would need 3 litter boxes for 2 cats, 4 litter boxes for 3 cats, etc. This is crazy in an apartment!

The litter box is a hotly debated topic.

In a perfect world? Yes, more litter boxes would be ideal, making things a little more comfortable for our cats. However, not everyone lives in a large house, nor do we have the space to waste for 3-4 litter boxes.

So how many litter boxes do you need in an apartment? For apartments with cats that have good relationships with each other, most cat owners will be absolutely fine with 1-2 litter boxes. However, with cats that don’t have good relationships/are not friendly with each other, following the general rule is one litter box per cat, plus one extra will be safer (to avoid cats eliminating outside the litter box).

Litter Box Guide For Apartments and Studio Apartments

There are many other considerations and factors to consider when deciding how many litter boxes should be in your living space.

Some of these questions include:

  • Do your cats stay in one room or have access to many rooms?
  • How is your cat’s relationship with each other (if you are in a multiple cat household)?
  • Are there stairs separating the cats and the litter box?
  • Is the litter box area noisy or cluttered?

In this article, I will be focusing more on apartment litter box configurations because that’s what I have the most experience in. Of course, we are dealing with living things, and all cats are different. However, cats are flexible creatures and can easily share litter boxes.

For cats that are friendly and have good relationships with each other:

Number of CatsNumber of Litter Box Needed in An Apartment
One Cat1 Litter Box
Two Cats1 Litter Box
Three Cats1 – 2 Litter Boxes (depending on how much cat owners want to scoop)
Four Cats2+ Litter Boxes (recommended)
Table 1. # of Litter Boxes Needed VS # of Cats. Note: this is only in apartments where cats are friendly towards each other.

For cats that don’t have a good relationship with each other:

Number of CatsNumber of Litter Box Needed in An Apartment
One Cat1 Litter Box
Two Cats3 Litter Boxes
Three Cats4 Litter Boxes
Four Cats5 Litter Boxes
Table 1. # of Litter Boxes Needed VS # of Cats. Note: this is only in apartments where cats are unfriendly towards each other. This table follows the typical one litter box per cat plus one extra rule.

How Many Litter Boxes Needed For 1 Cat In An Apartment?

The most straightforward of answers. One cat will have one litter box. Life is easy. The question is, do we start adding more litter boxes when more cats are introduced into the apartment?

Usually, only one litter box is needed in an apartment, even with multiple cats! See my strategies to prevent litter from getting everywhere here: 6 tips to prevent litter tracking.

Provided all your cats are happy and get along relatively well with each other (tolerate each other without real aggression or hissing), one litter box suffices for most situations in an apartment. However, below I go more into detail about when more might be needed.

How Many Litter Boxes Needed For 2 Cats In An Apartment?

In an apartment with 2 cats, cat owners can still stick to one litter box. It depends on the number of floors or rooms you might have, but in general, one litter box is fine. However, if your apartment is quite large with different levels and many rooms – think about adding another one to the places they hang out with the most.

Typically, apartments will usually only have one floor and don’t allow much wandering around so much that your cat is inconvenienced by going to the litter box. It’s probably within a couple of steps.

With one litter box, you can even stay outside for a day or two without cleaning. One or two cats don’t poop enough for the litter box to be entirely dirty after a day.

How Many Litter Boxes Needed For 3-4 Cats In An Apartment?

My recommendation for a 3 or more cat apartment is two litter boxes. It allows you some more breathing room (no pun intended) for travel or days in which you can’t get to the litter box. So that if one litter box is dirty, the cats can use the other one.

Once you start going over the threshold of 2 cats in an apartment, the non-simple answer is that it’s up to how much you want to scoop and clean. I managed with one litter box for 4 cats in my studio apartment for a long time. However, I had to switch to pine litter as this was the cleanest and most convenient type of litter. Read more about why I use pine litter here!

With one litter box for 4 cats, I had to increase my litter scooping frequency daily or sometimes once in the morning and night. It really becomes a matter of how much you want to scoop. With 2 litter boxes, daily scooping was sufficient.

When You Might Need to Add a Litter Box

One of the signs that you might need to add a litter box is when a cat exhibits litterbox avoidance behaviors. Unfortunately, litter box avoidance is an issue that is usually never simple and requires some investigation on the owner’s part. For more information about solving litter box avoidance issues, I have written a comprehensive guide here!

Where a cat’s litter box is located is a big deal to cats. Read more about it here!

The next reason cat owners would want to add another litter box is behavioral issues. One cat might not get along with another, stalk the other cat, and scare it from using the litter box. This is when you probably need to add another litter box to another region of the room to allow the scared cat to relieve themselves in a safer spot.

This usually happens when you introduce a new cat. Allow some time for the cats to get to know each other first and then try again with one litter box.

As previously mentioned, if your cats are relatively friendly and tolerant towards one another, there should be no problems with sharing one or two litter boxes in an apartment or small living area!

Why I Don’t Use More Than 2 Litter boxes

For that classic litter box formula, I believe it would make sense in a spacious home with multiple floors. Cats do not want to walk all the way downstairs to relieve themselves—especially not older cats.

This was my first studio apartment. Cozy, however, very tight. I lived with 3 cats here, all in the same room with one litter box.

Similar to humans, we enjoy it if our bathroom is within a couple of steps of where we are. If it’s too far away, we might use something else (some of us).

However, If you imagine a studio apartment where every single inch of floor space is treasured, it becomes a real issue. Especially in Asia, which has a very high density of people, the living space is quite less than the normal apartment.

Conclusion

There isn’t a hard and fast litter box rule. Whatever works for your apartment or home, continue to do whatever works and is comfortable for you. For me, I don’t particularly appreciate having many litter boxes on the ground taking up space, so I choose to scoop more often.

As long as your cats are healthy and have good relationships with the other cats in your home, it is easy to tweak the number of litter boxes available in your apartment.

monsieurtn

With a science background and years of experience including learning, observing, and training cats - increasing our beloved feline's welfare and wellbeing is the priority and passion.

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