The litter box is a sensitive point to cats, and their owners – what one party prefers can be a little different from what the other party prefers. So when issues happen, such as one’s cat relieving themselves outside the litter box, sometimes it can be as simple as where the litter box is placed.
Believe it or not, the placement of the box matters, and it sometimes is the difference between if your cat uses the litter box or not.
Where is the best place to put your litter box in a small living space or apartment? Sometimes the most popular place to put the litter box isn’t the best for our cats. The best place to put the litter box in a small apartment is in a socially important area (a place with many traffic and changing scents) and where the cats can be physically aware of their surroundings. This is to prevent litter box avoidance and bad habits from forming.
Why Care About Litter Box Placement?
We know that a cat has many ways to put their scent around their territory to secure a sense of confidence in their home. What is the largest scent marker for a cat in their home? The litter box. Of course, there is no other area in which the scent is stronger.
Now, what does this have to do with the litter box placement? If this is one of their main markers for territory, it should consider where it is placed.
When a cat goes to their litter box, they are the most vulnerable. So anything negative that happens during this time can cause terrible associations, which can cause litter box avoidance. Putting your litter box in a place that they can keep track of where everything is (cats, animals, and other humans) is essential as well.
Good Litter Box Placement Checklist
So let’s get into what makes a good litter box spot or placement (in the eyes of your cat):
- Placed in a socially important area. These might include where the human scent is strongest, where you/your cat spends the bulk of time at, even near windows and doors as there are lot of different scents in these areas.
- Litter Box should be put in a place where the cat cannot be surprised by noises, appliances, or water. There should always be a way for a cat to escape if it is cornered at the litter box.
Luckily, living in a smaller space such as an apartment or similar home has one big advantage. We can fulfill all of the above quite easily because of the size of our apartment. Also, because usually these types of living areas only have one or two rooms max, it’s easy to minimize the number of litter boxes needed.
Read more about how many litter boxes are needed in an apartment!
Most Popular Place To Put The Litter Box
Most popular doesn’t mean the most effective, but there’s a reason why people choose these locations. Usually, it’s one of two things or both:
- Hiding the litter box/elimination behavior
- Containing the litter box’s smell
According to a study about cats and their litter box (see all the important highlights about it here!), cats care a lot about how their litter box looks visually (in terms of how “clean” it looks). The study highlights that any obstructions in the box, whether it’s real waste or fake waste, cats are less likely to use it.
The thing that all of these locations have in common is that they are all in quite cramped, cluttered spaces. This can make cats can feel anxious going to their litter box. Also, there’s a much higher risk of something getting into their litter boxes, which could make them avoid their litter box (something that all cat owners dread).
|Popular Litter Box Placement||Pro/Cons of the Location|
|1. Bathroom||+ It’s easy to clean as it can be easily swept up and put into the toilet or garbage|
+ Bathrooms usually have ventilation fans for bad smells to be driven out of the room
– It’s too easy to block off access to the bathroom by accidentally closing the door
– Clutter, water, and noise can happen to a cat in the bathroom which can make them avoid the litter box
|2. Utility Room||+ Keeps the smell and litter box mess out of the way|
+ Near to cleaning supplies for easy cleanup
– Noisy, especially when appliances are running.
– Chemicals, equipment, and tools are risks that can cause accidents or, worse
– Lots of nooks and crannies for cats to get themselves into trouble
|3. Cabinets/Drawers||+ Litter box is hidden from view and contains the smell/mess|
– Cats are entirely blocked off in terms of awareness when they enter the litter box
– It’s hard to clean because the litter box is in a tight space
|4. Closet||+ Similar to #3, the litter box can be hidden from sight|
– No environmental awareness while they do their business
– Concentrate smells in the closet
– It’s hard to clean since it’s in a small space
– It’s difficult for cats to escape if it’s cornered by another animal or cat
From observing the chart, the positives are only towards us owners and not to our cats. That’s why these places are not exactly ideal for a litter box to be in. Also, it doesn’t fulfill what a cat needs according to the checklist.
If you are currently using these places for the litter box and working, it’s okay to keep using it. I will be the first to say if it’s working and you’re satisfied with it, it’s probably not necessary to change it.
However, when the day comes (hopefully it doesn’t!) when your cats have a problem with the litter box, hopefully, you’re able to remember what to change first!
The resounding most popular litter box placement had to be the bathroom. While it works and some cats are not too fussed about it, the bathroom is just too out of the way and is in danger of being inaccessible (someone accidentally closing the door).
We never want to give our cats the chance of developing a habit of going outside their litter box. Even once is too many times.
The next three, utility rooms, cabinets, and closets, all have the same problems. These are not socially important places for your cats, nor are they quiet, safe places for your cats to go. Most of the time, it’s quite opposite.
Recommended Place To Put The Litter Box
While this might sound counter-intuitive, where everyone spends their time the most is where a litter box should be or where there are many changing scents. The reason for this is because cats want to let other cats/animals know that they own the zone – therefore, if there’s a litter box in a place where there are lots of different scents, it lets them be more at ease knowing that their litter box is a signpost for other cats not to enter.
Scent plays an important role in our cat’s lives. It doesn’t matter how large or small the home is, as long as they have all the things they need to exhibit their natural behaviors. That main behavior is to deposit scent, and the largest scent they can deposit is, of course, in their litter box.
Compare the differences between this table and the above table and how it caters to the cat rather than the humans living in the space.
|Recommended Litter Box Location||Pros/Cons of the Location|
|1. Near the Entrance/Door||+ Lots of changing scents for the cats to add their own scent to|
+ Decent ventilation if cat owners have a door screen
+ Usually an open area so that cats can be aware of their surroundings while they do their business
+ Control of what comes who or what comes in and out.
– The first thing people see or possibly smell (check my article for easy ways to get rid of cat odor!) when they enter your home
|2. Living Room||+ High traffic area; therefore, good to have the litter box there|
+ Usually an open space with lots of places to survey their environment
– Easily visible and smelled by everybody
– Depending on the litter type used, litter can track more easily onto furniture
|3. Near Large Windows or Balconies||+ Good ventilation to get rid of bad smells|
+ The window always brings in different scents
+ Positive association for the litter box since cats love windows
– Depending on where the window is, cats can see other animals that might give them a fright
– Easily visible
My Recommendation For Litter Box Placement
For me, I believe the best place to put a litter box is in an apartment is right in front of your door. While I know that this can be a bit uncomfortable for some people because maybe they don’t want to see pee or poop in right when they step into their apartment, I believe this placement has a lot of benefits.
Butlers can easily monitor what comes in and out of the door, and cats can also survey the area very easily (provided it’s always locked). It’s tough for another cat or animal to surprise them at the door.
Also, the door is very significant in terms of territory. This is because there are many scents outsides, whether it be other cats, animals, or humans. Our residential cats like to spread their scent there to signify that this is their territory.
Putting a litter box there is like a big billboard saying that this is their area and allows them to feel more comfortable now that there’s a big scent marker in the form of the litter box in front of the most scent varied part of the apartment.
Although the sight of the litter box when you come in might not be too great, there’s a positive side to this for us as well! The entrance to the home is one of the easiest to clean areas. It’s usually very open and quite uncluttered relative to other places in the home. Also, since this is a very high traffic area for human butlers, cleaning this area for the cats cleans the area for us too! Since we will probably clean the area daily during our regular scooping, it makes for a more sanitary apartment!
Litter box placement has a significant effect on litter tracking as well! In some apartments and homes, the front of the door also has a ledge before coming into the home. This ledge really helps contain any litter that comes out of the litter box and keeps it from going everywhere. For more tips on litter tracking, read here!
In summary, in front of the door fits all of the requirements as a good litter box placement. If this place is not available for you, I recommend you look around and observe where you or your cat seems to spend the most time and place the litter box near there. While not ideal for us, there’s always a happy compromise where both the owners and their cats can be delighted.
Places To Avoid To Put The Litter Box
The number one place to avoid putting the litter box would be near loud places such as utility rooms. Also, places that are not very open are not recommended either due to cleaning and scooping.
In the past, I’ve always mentioned that putting the litter box in a cabinet or smaller spaces was a good idea. Still, as time went on, I discovered that those places make it very hard to clean, and with how easily litter might be easily coming out of the litter box – you can imagine how unsanitary it might be in there!
Most people also usually say to avoid keeping the litter box too close to the cat food. I would agree, but this will depend on your cats and the size of your apartment. For me, my cats have never been too fussed about it, and in a small apartment, sometimes the most optimal layout is not the ideal layout. So always keep an eye on your cats and observe how they react to certain litter box placements.
For the complete guide to solving most litter and litter box problems within an apartment. It’s my litter and litter box bible!
What Litter and Litter Box Combination To Use In A Small Apartment?
During my time with my cats, I always wanted to find the best combination of litter boxes and litter that fit my apartment and was also satisfying for my cats to use. Through many trials, experiments, and poop scooping, I honestly believe that pine pellets with a swinging hooded litter box (for accessibility are the best combination).
For a quick summary about the benefits of pine litter: it’s cheap, doesn’t go everywhere, and is easy to clean/manage.
For those that want to learn more about pine litter and the litter box I use, visit the complete guide to pine litter page.