How many litter boxes do your cats really need?

With the number of litter boxes, the general advice that I see repeated over and over again is one more litter than the number of cats.

But where does this rule come from? Although not bad advice, it feels a little arbitrary to me.

When we only had two cats (Lina and Kilala), for eight years, we only had two litter boxes for them and never had any issues.

To determine how many litter boxes you really need, there are other factors to consider.

In general, having more cats will lead to more litter boxes. But that may not be the case in all situations.

Are your cats okay with sharing the boxes?

My cat Buster seems to like to have a litter box that the other cats are not using. Or he needed to have super fresh litter.

Also, some cats prefer not to pee and poo in the same box.

So, depending on the number of cats you have and how particular they are, you may need 2 boxes per cat (or more).

How often are you able (and willing) to scoop those boxes?

Are you or others in your household, able to scoop the boxes more than once a day? Or perhaps, right after the box was used?

Scooping more often (or completely replacing the litter, if using non clumping), may mean that you can have less boxes.

I’ve visited a cat sanctuary that had 40 cats and they didn’t have 41 litter boxes! Volunteers were on a strict scooping schedule.

You could also try out an automatic litter box

Do you have a cat that likes to ambush at the litter box?

Are litter box ambushes a problem with your cats?

Adding more litter boxes in areas throughout your home can reduce the chances of a cat feeling trapped in the litter box area.

The size of your home

If your home is large or has multiple levels, you may want to make things easy for the cats and have litter boxes on each level.

Think about how annoying it would feel to you, if you were on the 3rd level of a town house and how to go down 4 flights of stairs to the basement, every time you needed to use the bathroom.

Please be considerate of your cats.

The litter box size

If you choose bigger litter boxes, you may be able to have less litter boxes (as long as the cats are okay with sharing, as mentioned above).

We have litters of varying sizes. The largest box that we have is pictured below (image is an affiliate link).

It’s great because it has a spot to hold the litter box scooper. But the size makes it more difficult to completely swap out and clean.

We have other boxes of various sizes, all uncovered.

I’ve heard of people that use a kiddie pool as their litter box. I haven’t convinced my husband yet for us to try this, but there are DIY instructions here.

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Heidi Bender is the writer and founder of the Joy of Cats. She enjoys sharing cat information and providing helpful cat tips. She considers herself a cat lady and currently cares for eight cats.

2 thoughts on “How many litter boxes do your cats really need?”

  1. When we moved here, nine cats shared seven litterboxes. The boxes are large and two of them are enormous. It worked really well. Over the years, the size of the family changed. There are now two cats and five boxes. Why five boxes? Partly due to habit, and partly just to give them access in various rooms. There are two in the master bath, one in my little “guest” bath, one in the laundry room, and one in the master bedroom, which gets by far the most use by both cats. All have SoPhresh clumping litter. I scoop about 5 times daily.


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