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Cat Peeing or Pooping Outside the Litter Box? You’re Setting Up Your Litter Box All Wrong!

Cat Peeing or Pooping Outside the Litter Box? You’re Setting Up Your Litter Box All Wrong!

If your cat isn’t going in the litter box, It’s time to take a closer look at their current litter box situation. Here are some basic rules.

How many litter boxes do you need?

Have one litter box per cat, plus one extra. If you have two cats, that’s two litter boxes plus one extra - three litter boxes. Three cats, four litter boxes. One cat, two litter boxes. This ensures the cat identifies the entire home as their territory, so put those boxes out! Which leads me to the next rule…

Where to put your litter box 

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to over the years who say, Jackson, I got three litter boxes just like you said, but we’re still having problems! What gives? Then they show me a photo of three litter boxes placed side by side in a dark corner of the garage.

Some people say cats want privacy, as if that means they want to go into a litter box disguised as a cabinet. That’s ridiculous! If your cat had it their way, they would be pooping and peeing in a bush right outside your home to mark their territory. They don’t need privacy - you just don’t want to look at your cat peeing and pooping around the house!

Whether you live in a giant mansion or a tiny studio apartment, litter boxes should be spread out around your home in areas where you and your cat actually like to hang out. Litter boxes aren’t just cat toilets - they’re territorial markers. Keep them away from washing machines, water heaters, or anything else that could make unexpected noises that may scare your cat. It may not be aesthetically pleasing, but this is an important compromise to make with your cat! Prioritize accessibility over your aesthetics if you want to solve litter box problems in your home.

Provide an escape route 

Always make sure there are multiple exits when setting up your litter boxes. If your litter boxes are pushed up against a wall and another animal or child comes up behind your cat, they are going to feel cornered and unsafe - and they may find other places to go instead! This is also why I recommend staying away from hooded boxes or litter box furniture that limit your cat’s escape routes.

Don’t deodorize the litter 

That means no litter deodorizers, no air fresheners, and no scented litter. Cats use scent to establish their territory so we don’t want to completely mask their smell. Additionally, cats have extremely sensitive noses and may find scented litters off-putting. Don’t worry: if you scoop regularly, the litter box won’t stink! My favorite litter is Sustainably Yours, which is low dust, chemical- and fragrance-free, and 100% sustainable.

(BTW: for any accidents outside the box, check out my patented CO2 cleaner that eliminates stains and odors without harsh chemicals or fragrances.)

Keep the litter box clean! 

How would you like using a toilet that hasn’t been flushed? A recent study proved what common sense tells us: that cats prefer a clean litter box to a dirty one. Scoop your litter boxes at least once a day to keep your cat - and anyone who lives in your home - happy! 

What to do if your cat is afraid of the litter box 

Many cats have a PTSD-like reaction to litter boxes if they were ambushed by another cat or if they had a medical issue that made it painful to go pee there. If this is the case for your cat, experiment with a variety of different box styles, locations, and litters. For example, if you have a large rectangular box, get boxes that are very shallow or round. If they associate your current litter with a painful experience, try a new brand like Sustainably Yours. Let your cat decide where they want to go, what litter they prefer, and how deep the litter should be, and you can slowly start replacing the boxes that were offensive to your cat.

Say no to self-cleaning litter boxes

I’ve seen too many automatic self-cleaning litter boxes malfunction and start to clean while the cat is still in the box, scaring the $%!# out of the cat (literally and figuratively). Additionally, litter boxes provide important information about the health of your cat. You won’t know if your cat has an upset tummy or blood in their urine if the litter box does all the scooping for you.

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