Having the correct number of litter boxes for your home with cats is as important as deciding on what kind of litter to use or selecting the right kind of litter box. Too few litter boxes can lead to anxiety and behavior problems, while too many can make it feel like you’ll be scooping poop for all of eternity.

The rule of thumb for litter boxes

The rule of thumb (or “formula,” if you will) for determining how many litter boxes to supply, is one litter box per cat, plus one extra, and an additional box per level. So, a one cat household would ideally have two boxes. If you have a two cat household, you would need three boxes.

If you have a three cat household and two floors, you would need five, as evenly divided between floors as possible. This is a special consideration for juniors and seniors who have trouble with stairs.

Litter box placement

Aim to have the litter boxes evenly distributed throughout your house. Place the boxes in a low-traffic area where your cats can feel privacy, ideally where another kitty can’t sneak up on them while they are doing their business.

Since cats are territorial creatures, ensuring that each room in your house has the proper resources is the best way to reduce conflict between cats. You’ll also want to keep the litter box far away from other resources, like food, water, and toys.


Once you’re sure that you have the correct number of litter boxes, but your cats still don’t seem happy with the arrangement, watch their behavior closely and make adjustments. If your cats are urinating on your furniture, first clean the area, treat it with a deterrent, and protect it with a waterproof cover. Then, place a litter box closer to where the accident has occurred.

Do your cats seem to be endlessly scratching outside of the tray? They probably need a larger litter box. Are they scratching at the hood? You might want to try a high-sided pan that stops litter scatter and odor, but gives them more overhead space. Are they soiling in front of the box? Try to clean it more often, or add another litter box to provide more access to fresher litter.

Not sure if you have the right number of litter boxes in your home? Ask your pet sitter’s opinion. Our sitters pay special attention to the litter box on each visit, so we can definitely let you know how the litter box usage is going!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Roang_zero1 on flickr