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postheadericon Sometimes a cat will not like the location of his or her litter box

Sometimes a cat will not like the location of his or her litter box.  This can occur for several different reasons:

  • Some kind of pain at the location of the box
  • Something that has caused the cat to be afraid at the location
  • An odor around the location of the box

Where is the best spot to put a litter box?

  • Most cats prefer an easily accessible spot, but one with privacy
  • Avoid placing the box near a noisy appliance like the washer, dryer or furnace
  • Experiment with types of boxes:  some cats like the privacy of closed boxes, and most like large boxes, but some like small ones.

In general, cats usually dislike having to eliminate near where they eat, so avoid putting the food and water bowls near the litter box.

Stress or anxiety as a source of cat litter box location must always be considered, but is not as frequent a cause of house soiling.  It has been said that one cannot have too many litter boxes.  A household of three cats would probably fair much better with four boxes.

Specific kinds of stress such as separation anxiety, previously seen only in dogs, but now believed to occur in cats also, usually occurs when there has been a prolonged absence of the owner, typically 8 hours or more.  The house soiling typically occurs 8 to 12 hours after the owner’s departure.  This behavior can also involve diarrhea and destructive events, and can be treated in much the same way dogs are treated.  Training through graduated departures with a lot of skill, time and patience as well as medications help separation anxiety disorders.

Some owners report cats that are naturally shy or fearful.  This type of personality may not want to come out into the open to go to the litter box.  If there is an identifiable cause such as a certain person, cat dog, object or sound, try to remove or modify it.  You might also try using a litter box in a “safe” location for the shy and fearful type cat.


Some cats may enjoy the company of 20 other cats, while others are unhappy with just one other cat in the household or any other kind of animal.  It is actually not natural for cats to live in social groups all the time as they spend most of their time in solitary circumstances, getting together for breeding and sometimes raising kittens together.  Cats usually see all living objects, including people in the home as part of the social group.  Adding to the group in any way can be upsetting to a cat.  One way of solving a multiple cat home environment is to provide plenty of nesting spots vertically like cat trees and shelving so as to give each cat a place of its own away from the others.

For new kitten owners, there are a few things you can do to help avoid house soiling problems.  They include:

  • Make the litter box location easily accessible, private and in a low traffic area
  • Try to provide at least one litter box per cat
  • Use finely-grained, non-scented litters
  • Do not put food and water beside the litter box
  • Scoop the litter box at least daily
  • Change clay litters at least once weekly
  • Change scoop able litters every 6 to 8 weeks
  • Avoid frightening the cat in the litter box, trapping or catching it there
  • Never punish a cat for house soiling
  • Make changes to the litter box filler or location very gradually
  • Call your vet when house soiling occurs to rules out any medical problems that may be causing the problem

Disclaimer:  The information in this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any kind of health problem in your cat.  You should always consult with a trusted veterinarian for all health problems.

Source:  The Winn Feline Foundation Online

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