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Can Cats Share a Litter Box? Vet-Reviewed FAQ & Tips

multiple kittens in a litter box
Image Credit: Albina Tiplyashina, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

Vet approved

	Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Although cat litter trays are an unglamorous side of cat parenting, these items are more than just a bathroom for cats as they also act as sacred spots and private retirement places for kitties. For this reason, the short answer might be a rough no. Each cat requires its litter box-meaning that you need multiple trays if you own multiple cats.

While kitties have no problem sharing people and items, they are adamant about sharing their litter trays. But why do cats hate sharing litter trays? Keep reading and find out why it’s not a good idea to have your cats share litter boxes.

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The Cat-to-Litter Box Ratio

Unlike dogs, cats are picky about where they relieve themselves. Forcing them to share a litter box is among the reasons why good-behaved kitties start exhibiting inappropriate toilet behavior, like preferring other locations for toilets.

The feline’s rule of thumb is one litter tray per cat, plus one for spare. So, if you have one cat, you’ll need two litter boxes and three boxes for two cats. This ratio allows each cat to claim its tray since cats hate sharing litter trays.

Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

It would be best to observe this ratio or keep an extra box around, even if your kitties don’t mind sharing. It’ll help one cat find an appropriate place for its bathroom if the other cat is using one litter box at that time.

It’s equally important to put the litter boxes in different designated places, at least one on each floor, to prevent your pets from climbing up and down the stairs to use the toilet and make it to the tray in time.

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Why Cat’s Should Not Share Litter Boxes

The reasons for this behavior cover a wide range, from individual personalities, the hierarchies in their midst, and health.

1. Individual Personalities

Unlike dogs, cats do not thrive in packs even if they are siblings from the same litter. Felines are usually territorial and need to identify with their own spaces and items.

Some of the things cats prefer to do privately include urinating and defecating. As territorial animals, sharing a litter box can be stressful for most cats, mainly because an alpha cat can be aggressive and bully the beta cat with whom it shares the tray. The alpha kitty can also guard its box and block the toilet’s entry, locking out the inferior cat.

2. Behavior

Cats are animals of habit, so if you keep a litter tray clean enough not to be objectionable to the kitty, a cat will get used to using one litter box all through.

A cat can prefer a specific box if you maintain it and it is in a more convenient location. Being territorial, cats tend to trace their places of travel and personal items. For this reason, cats prefer to have their own litter boxes with the unique smell they identify and relate to.

ginger cat litter close-up_Yuliya Alekseeva_shutterstock
Image Credit By: Yuliya Alekseeva, shutterstock

3. Health

The most important reason why cats should not share toilets is health. Since the amount of litter in a tray increases proportionally to the number of felines using it, fewer litter trays make it hard for owners to stay on track and keep the boxes clean for each kitty to use when it pleases.

The accumulation of urine and feces lead to bacteria-build up, odor, and health complications to both you and your cats.


Cats are creatures of habit, and sometimes they just enjoy sharing the same litter box. In such a scenario, it could be useful to install a camera to monitor their litter box habits and help pinpoint any potential issues.

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How to Place the Litter Boxes

Now that you have separate litter trays for each cat, where or how should you place the trays?

1. Space the Trays

If you have a multi-cat home, you might want to separate your litter trays. Avoid lining up the litter trays right next to each other as cats may perceive them as one giant litter box and avoid using them.

2. Easy Access and Exits

Ideally, quiet and easy-to-reach places are the best places to put cat litter boxes. Although you may not want to see or smell the litter tray whenever you pass, it is not wise to tuck the trays in places that cats can’t access.

Cat Litter Box
Image Credit By: Lilia Solonari, shutterstock

Place the boxes in easily accessible places, preferably low-traffic corners and areas for their privacy. Also, avoid putting the litter boxes near food, water bowls, or in the kitchen.

Aspects like your kitty’s character, personality, age, physical condition, and home layout should help you decide on the most suitable place for a cat’s toilet. For instance, elderly and disabled cats should have their bathrooms closer to prevent them from traveling or climbing up and down the stairs to access the litter box.

3. Favorite Hangout Places

One of the best locations for a cat’s toilet is the favorite hangout place or spot. Ensure the site has natural or sufficient lighting because cats want to see the bathroom before using it.

Since cats may prefer using a specific litter box over the other, use your kitty’s favorite tray as the main and place it in its favorite hangout locations. Plus, the more litter tray choices you offer your cats, the less likely they develop unhealthy potty behaviors or fight over territories.

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Types of Litter Boxes

Today’s markets offer a variety of litter boxes for cats, allowing you to choose the suitable size and the best type for you and your kitty. Check out some of the most common litter tray designs.

1. Litter Box with Roof

Covered litter boxes have doors that help keep the odor inside the tray. Although they are suitable for odor control, these box types require more cleaning to eliminate the potent smell and can be difficult for larger kitties to fit in and turn around.

The good thing is, some of these litter boxes have an in-built ventilation system. Plus, they offer more privacy to cats.

british shorthair inside top entry litter box
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

2. Self-cleaning Litter Box

Are you a busy cat owner? Automated self-cleaning litter boxes are convenient and a worthwhile investment for cat parents that spend a lot of time away from their pets.

These litter boxes’ operation involves separating waste from the litter and transferring it to a disposable bag or container. Some litter boxes also have accompanying litter trays that do the scooping for you, so you don’t have to see the waste. However, some features like the sound the box makes can prevent a feline from using it.

3. Open Litter Box

These litter pans have no cover top and are suitable for households whose cats have no problem sharing litter trays. They also require less space and take less time to clean.

However, since they have no barriers at the top, they do not accord cats their privacy. They also do not keep odors indoors and require more cleaning than the other litter boxes.

Cat Sand Litter
Image Credit By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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How to Prevent Litter Box Problems

Litter box elimination problems are common among felines that share a home with multiple other cats, dislike the litter tray or the litter box location. A kitty that avoids using the litter box can become problematic and develop a preference for another area, including the couch!

Check how to prevent litter-box problems.

1. Keep the Litter Trays Clean

Prevent your cat from developing potty behavioral changes by scooping and changing the litter at least once a day. Prevent scent or odor by rinsing the litter tray with warm water, unscented soap, and baking soda every week to help absorb the smell without off-putting your kitty.

You might want to avoid using scented litter, harsh detergents, or air fresheners, as the odors in these products can be a turnoff for your feline friend.

2. Provide Enough Litter Boxes

Give your kitty a choice of where to litter. Cats generally prefer their private space to conduct their businesses. Ensure that your cat does not have to use a dirty litter tray twice or share a litter box with other household cats.

3. Find the Correct Litter Box Size

Your cat might develop potty problems if you force it to use cramped quarters. Ensure the toilet you provide is large enough, allowing your kitty to fit inside, with some spare room comfortably.

The litter box should allow your feline friend ample moving and digging space without having to step on litter. The general rule of thumb is that the correct potty size, length, and width should be similar to the feline’s body length.

Image Credit By: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

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Although finding a permanent potty solution for a cat can be difficult, knowing the vital factors to consider can help find a long-lasting solution. The good thing about cats is that they are predictable, meaning you can observe your cat’s litter behavior to decide its toilet use.

Featured Image: Albina Tiplyashina, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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