One of the most common behavioral problems in cats reported by pet parents is inappropriate elimination; that is, urinating or defecating outside of the litter box. Cats have an acute sense of smell, so having a clean, fresh litter box is important to your cat. If the litter box is not clean enough, your cat may let you know by avoiding the dirty litter box. Just how many litter boxes should you have?
The standard answer is that you should have at least one litter box per cat, plus one more. Many cats do not like to share litter boxes, and if they find the litter box occupied when the need arises, may choose to do their business elsewhere. Additionally, a single litter box shared by more than one cat becomes dirty much more quickly.
Location of the litter box is important, too. The litter box should be placed in a quiet, private area, away from your cat’s dining area. If you have more than one cat, place the second litter box in an area away from the other litter box. While the litter box should be in a low-traffic area, it should not be too far out of the way, making for a long trek when your cat needs to get to the litter box quickly. If you have a two-story house, you should have one litter box for each level. Remember, the more choices your cat has, the better.
Many pet parents seem to prefer covered litter boxes because there is less odor, and the litter is out of sight. Most cats do not prefer this type of litter box precisely because the odor is trapped inside. Also, in multi-cat households, some cats fear being ambushed by another cat and may avoid the litter box for that reason. However, there are some shy cats that prefer the privacy of a covered box. You will have to experiment to see what type of litter box your cat prefers.
Cats are fastidious by nature, and instinctively want to use a litter box so they can bury their waste. If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box, your first step is to see your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical cause. If your cat has no underlying medical condition and stops using the litter box, try adding an additional litter box in another location.