Friday, November 9, 2012

Cat decorating: Ideal number and placement of litter boxes

Two cats playing side and seek
Maggie and Lucy playing a quick game of hide-and-seek.
Managing a multi-cat household can be trying, at times. While cats do tend to entertain one another, devising little games to burn off energy and then sleeping together in a pile when nap time rolls around, each cat seems to have personalized preferences and specialized needs that have to be addressed. Many of these demands have to do with litter boxes.

When I moved into this house, I had hoped we could keep all of the litter boxes in the basement. I set up two boxes down there, one with clay litter for Lucy and one with sawdust litter for Eamon and Maggie, and I placed both boxes in semi-private spaces. My cats avoid litter boxes in high-traffic areas, and they'll bolt out of the box with their work half-done if they're surprised. Placing the boxes in faraway corners would make them happy, I reasoned, and it would make me happy as they wouldn't be anywhere in which I planned to spend time.

Unfortunately, I forgot the ultimate rule regarding boxes: There should be a box on each floor.

Leaving the boxes in the basement led to an unhappy Lucy. This makes sense, as she's blind and getting all the way downstairs and then back up again is a lot of work for her. When mealtime is near, she sometimes doesn't want to make the trip, and she'd just let fly wherever she happened to be standing.

My solution should make the both of us happy. I have a litter box on the main floor, but it's right by the front door. She has a box she can use, but should she need (ahem) an extra amount of time in order to do something monumental, it's likely she'll head downstairs to do so, as she's likely to get spooked upstairs. At least, that's the hope.

I should also mention that some experts claim that households should have one more box that could be used as a spare. Technically, with three boxes and three cats, I'm one short. For me, having four boxes is overkill. When I had three boxes and two cats, one box was consistently ignored. Some cats might be pickier than mine, but I've never needed a spare.