Can I move my cat’s litter box? It is an often-asked question among pet owners, and the simple answer is yes – but take some time to think about it first. Just like humans, cats have preferences about where they would like to do their business, and if you put their litter box in an inconvenient location or move it too quickly, you might find that your kitty chooses other undesirable places to go. Here are some things to consider before, during, and after you move a cat’s litter box to a new location.
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Before: Litter Box Location Ideas
Before you move your cat’s litter box, brainstorm the pros and cons of different locations. Try to think in the mind of your kitty, and avoid playing “musical litter boxes” with your cat by changing the location too often. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Accessibility/Convenience - Where will they want to go? If you move the litter box upstairs to the basement, it might be hard for older cats, cats with health problems, or kittens that have just eaten and are looking for a nearby litter box.
- Cat Conflicts - If you have multiple cats, are there any conflicts or dominance dynamics that might affect where a cat will go? One of your cats might be an alpha cat, and your other cat might be a bit afraid of them and have difficulty getting over the fear of using a certain litter box.
- Noisy Appliances - Proximity to noisy appliances like furnaces, washing machines, or dishwashers might also be problematic because the noise of them turning on suddenly might frighten a cat.
- Safety – make sure the area is well-lit, and not too loud – cats want to feel welcome and comfortable when using their litter box.
- Avoid Heat Sources – higher temperatures will amplify any unpleasant smells, which will be bothersome for you but worse for your cat, who won’t want to use the litter box.
- Avoid Food – cats aren’t disgusting, and they don’t want to eat right next to where they poop.
Remember that the general rule for litter boxes is that if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes. Some cats prefer at least two litter boxes: one for poo and one for pee.
During: Move a Cat Litter Box to Another Room
If you want to move the litter box from the basement to the first floor, you have too much ground that your cat can cover just out of memory. This means that you need the second litter box for the move.
To reduce the stress that comes with moving the litter box, you have to make the process of it develop gradually over a few days. Here are the main steps:
- Place the second litter box in the desired new location, but keep the old litter box in its place.- this way, your cat will have a backup litter box where it already feels comfortable until it gets accustomed to the new one.
- Show your cat the new litter box. - This introduction step is very important and your cat may embrace the new location from the very start. Even if it doesn't, you still have to show it where it is several times.
*Some articles advise that you wait until your cat has to urinate and take it to the new litter box. Others even advise that you take your cat from its old litter box while it is using it and take it to the new litter box. We strongly recommend that you do not do that. This is a highly-intrusive and could result in emotional trauma.
- Move the old litter box closer to the new location. - In our example, take it to the entrance to the basement because it will keep the old litter box on the route that your cat is used to taking, but show it that something is changing.
- Keep showing your cat the new litter box, but do not force it into using it. - Perseverance will earn you points in this task, but so will a light touch. Take your cat to the new litter box and put it inside it only if the cat permits you to do that. If it shows any sign of opposing this, stop right there and let the cat go.
- Close the entrance to the old location of the litter box and move the old litter box closer to the new one. - Setting boundaries is very important and one of them is letting your cat know that the old location of the litter box is no longer available. Placing its old litter box on the way to the new one will ease the relocation process. You should expect a bit of a protest, so do not be surprised if your cat marks its territory in front of the closed door.
If the marking persists for more than a week, you may have to think about placing a litter box there. It is much easier to praise your cat for doing something good (using a litter box) than scolding it for doing something bad (marking the carpet). There are other ways of making that specific place undesirable, such as placing a litter box that your cat does not like, which will most likely make it go to the other one.
Has your cat started to use the new litter box in the new location?
1. Yes - Then you are almost done with the moving process. All you have left to do is remove the old litter box, leaving the new location as the sole option. As for the litter boxes, you can place both of them in the new location so that your cat feels comfortable. You can then see which one it prefers and keep that one.
2. No - If your cat is using its old litter box placed in the intermediate location, but refuses to use the new litter box in the new location, there is a chance that it may not like the box itself. Your next step is to move the old litter box even closer to the new location, gradually, until you replace the new litter box with it altogether. New location, same old litter box, happy cat.
*If your cat stops using the old litter box as well once you pass a certain point, then you may have to reconsider your choice for the new location. Read about the ideal characteristics of the location of a litter box below and find a new place to relocate the litter box.
During: Making the Move without a Second Litter Box
This is obviously the quickest way to make the move and the steps are pretty straightforward. If you want to move your cat's litter box without using a second box, then here is what you have to do:
- Place the litter box in the new location.
- Close the entrance to the old location and keep it closed for the following days. - This way, your cat won't have a choice and it will have to go to the new place.
- Show your cat where you put the litter box. - You will have to do this several times for it to sink in. Rest assured that your cat will remember where the litter box it, the question remains whether or not it will want to use it.
- If your cat accepts the new location, then the moving process should go smoothly. However, if it does not accept it, you should expect protests. Here are only a few ways this can manifest itself:
- Your cat can mark the place right in front of the old location, presuming it is still closed off.
- If the old location is available, it can go and mark the territory there.
- It can urinate or defecate outside the litterbox (in the new location) as a sign of protest. If this type of behavior persists and your cat does not accept the new location of the litter box in a week or more, then you may want to consider finding a new location. Traumas caused by litter boxes can lead to behavior issues in cats. If you can prevent these, then you are well-advised to.
Making the move with a second litter box
Using a second litter box might make the process smoother, even if you are moving it to another room. Here are the steps you want to take:
- Place the new litter box in the new location and leave the old one where it is.
- Show your cat the new litter box and let it get used to it, stress-free. Exactly as we described for big moves, having the old litter box in the place that your cat is already familiar with will reduce the stress of the transition.
- Move the old litter box outside the room of the old location - this will show your cat that there is a change coming, but it will ease it into the process.
- Close the door to the old location - this will show your cat that the old location of the litter box is no longer an option.
- Keep showing your cat the new litter box. Repetition is key and, eventually, your cat will take the hint, so keep showing it where the new litter box is without forcing it into using it. Be perseverant, but not intrusive.
- Make the new location the only option - either by placing both litter boxes in the new location or by keeping just one of them there, make the new location the only option for your cat. This will show it that this is the new place for it to go.
As for the version with the second litter box, there is a chance that your cat will not like it. This means that it will protest for a while. If this type of behavior persists, then you may want to reconsider the new location you have chosen. But what makes a good place for the litterbox?
After: Keeping the Litter Box Clean
One consideration when you move a litter box is whether it will be convenient for you, because one of the biggest litter box mistakes pet owners make is neglecting to clean litter boxes, which can be very off-putting for a cat. Ideally, you should scoop the litter twice a day, and remember that the box itself can become smelly and offensive to cats, particularly plastic boxes, so try to replace these boxes once a year.
Can I move my cat’s litter box?
When changing litter box locations, the key strategies are to find a location that is convenient for your cat, take the move slowly, and then remember to keep the box clean so your cat will continue to use it.
The Dos and Don'ts of Litterboxes
Choosing the correct place for your litter box has a great impact on the relationship that your cat has with it. A good place will generate a healthy relationship, while a bad place can cause litter box mishaps, emotional trauma, and even chronic issues of the urinary tract in your cat. Here are the Do's and Don'ts of litter boxes:
What kind of litter box to choose?
Do - Open litter boxes are ideal - In these, a cat can see everything in every direction, which will make it feel calm. Moreover, it will not feel secluded or pressured inside, which should help your cat accept the litter box easily.
Do - Closed litter boxes must have at least two openings - to avoid traumatizing the cat, make sure your cat has at least two entrances. This will make it feel less confined when it is using it
Don't - Closed litter boxes with only one entrance - These can trigger a claustrophobic reaction in your cat. While the top makes it much easier for you, it makes the litter box a hostile space for your cat. Some cat owners place these next to walls and sometimes even facing a wall, making it quite a dark scary place for the cat. If there are two cats using this type of litter box, then one of them may end up trapped inside by the other, which can be a very traumatic experience, so it is best to avoid it.
How many litter boxes per household?
The ideal number of litter boxes that you should have in the house is 1 per cat plus one extra. That means two litter boxes for one cat, three litter boxes for two cats, four litter boxes for three cats, and so on.
Having spare litter boxes for your cats will help them feel more comfortable and it will also prevent them from fighting over the litter box. If you live in a house, you should have one litter box on every floor.
Do - Place the litter boxes in separate places in your home - makes sure the cats can territorially identify the entire home by placing the litter boxes in different rooms.
Don't - Place the litter boxes one next to the other - This might encourage fighting over litter boxes and could prove to be inefficient for one of the cats.
Why Is It Important that Your Cat Has a Good Relationship with the Litter Box?
From choosing the right litter box to finding the ideal spot to place it in and all the way to going through the entire moving process, everything is important when it comes to litter boxes because your cat should feel entirely comfortable to use it. Here are a few reasons why:
This is usually the first step of an unhealthy litter box routine. If your cat gets scared or goes through a traumatic episode involving the litter box, such as getting trapped inside a box with a single opening or getting constantly interrupted while urinating, it will have a reaction to it. Part of it will be behavioral and that stress will be relieved in another way, such as scratching the couch or marking the carpet. The other part of it will be the long-term effect of a stressful relationship with a litter box, which is urinary tract issues.
Stress Bladder and Chronic Urinary Tract Illnesses
When cats avoid using the litter box for a prolonged amount of time (weeks to months), they may develop a stress bladder. This means that they will have a new urination pattern. They will avoid using the litter box for as long as possible and when they do, they will try to urinate as quickly as possible. This leads to the incomplete evacuation of the urine in the bladder, which in time can lead to chronic illnesses of the urinary tract.
Chronic Digestive Issues
If a cat will avoid using the litter box, it will also have a precarious defecation pattern. It will be bloated and constipated for an extended period of time, which could lead to chronic issues of the digestive tract over the years.
The LitterLocker – your own portable litter trash can
This is essentially a trash can just for cat litter – it’s designed to lock-in odors and bacteria as it keeps any clumped litter and poop trapped behind a second lid – so when you open it, you aren’t suddenly hit by the smells of older waste.
And because it’s so portable, it’s really handy to have next to your litter box – so if you move the litter tray you don’t need to think about whether there’s a trash can nearby or how you’re going to bag up the used litter. It’s all managed with the LitterLocker.
Purchase on Paws & Claws.
This story is from a Floppycat reader:
"2 years ago my 7 year old Ragdoll, Bugsy, started going to the litter box repeatedly. It appeared he had a UTI. I took him to the vet where they ran many tests and it was determined he had Idiopathic Cystitis brought on by stress.
We had recently moved into a new house and I had purchased a piece of cat furniture that hid the litter box inside and being enclosed stressed him out. Once I removed the furniture the problem cleared up.
Fast forward two years later, I was tired of sweeping litter constantly so I purchased an enclosed litter box and hoped the original stress was the new house and not the box. I was wrong. He started the same bladder issues of urinating every few minutes and eventually little drops of blood. I immediately purchased a large Rubbermaid tote.
It was the biggest box I could find with high sides but not enclosed. I cut out an entrance/exit for him and within two days his cystitis had cleared up and he was much more relaxed. I never knew this to be a thing, but it absolutely is. The big tote keeps the litter in better kid and he has plenty of room to move around and do his business. Hope this helps someone else."
Litterboxes that readers love:
- LitterLocker Litter Box (In the USA this is sold as Litter Genie )
The LitterLocker Litter Box is a high-quality product made by a Canadian brand that is designed to keep all the kitty litter scatters inside. It has two flexible high sidewalls that come with handles, a high back wall, and a short front wall. This will permit your cat to enter the box easily.
The size of the LitterLocker Litter Box is 22.3 x 17.6 x 16 inches, which makes it fit into most bathrooms, but also large enough for any cat. Its shape is designed especially to reduce litter scatter to a minimum.
The flexible sides make this litter box adaptable to small places. For instance, if you want to place between two walls or between a wall and your toilet, the sidewalls of the litter box can be bent to fit.
Purchase on Amazon
The NVR Miss Litter Box is a simple yet effectively designed litter pan. The litter tray’s high walls are perfect for avoiding spilling and litter scatter while the large cut out to the side of the box allows for easy entry and exit for your pet cat.
Purchase NVR Miss Litterbox
Great for those who work long hours away from home, those who have multiple cats, and lots of other reasons. Read more in-depth about the high tech cat litter box here.
The Iris cat litter box with shield and scoop has extra-tall walls on three sides to help contain litter and spray while keeping dirt out. Open top cat litter container provides quick and easy access, while the deep litter pan design gives your cat a semi-private space.
- Antimicrobial product protection
- High sides to prevent litter scatter
- Easy clean spout
- Non-stick surface for easy cleaning
Frisco High Sided Litter Box XL
This hard plastic litter box has high sides with a lowered step-in front. It’s resistant to scratches and made from BPA-free plastic so is perfectly safe to use. At 24 inches long it’s easily large enough for bigger cats to be comfortable, while the 10-inch high sides will help keep litter from being scattered.
Buy the Frisco High Sided Litter Box XL on Chewy
Other tools you might need:
Floppycats Favorite Litter Scoop:
Meet the cat litter scoop that will change your life. Seriously. You think I'm being dramatic. I am not. The Litter-Lifter is an extremely efficient scooper and hands down, my favorite litter scoop on the market.
Purchase The Litter Lifter Cat Litter Scoop on Amazon.
2. Frisco Litter Mat
The Frisco Litter Mat is a simple mat that can be placed under or in front of the litter box to catch all the litter granules that cats track on their paws or when they toss the litter around to clean it. The mat is lightweight and it is also anti-slip. It is very easy to clean – just give it a shake or vacuum it to get rid of any litter.
3. Litter Genie
How does it work? You simply scoop the soiled clumps of cat litter into the unit, pull the handle to help seal away the waste. The system locks in the odor through its antimicrobial protection feature. It even comes with a scoop for your convenience.
What suggestions do you have for how to change the location of a cat litter box?