In a small house or tiny apartment, it can be hard enough to find space for your own things, let alone the cat's litter box. But it's important to get it right. Litter box issues are a top behavioral concern reported to vets and cause of people giving up their cats.
The goal is to make your limited space work for both of you, which means that the litter box should be out of the way, but easy to access. The apparent disadvantage of having less space in a small home isn't necessarily so; the smaller the space, the more often you will see (and smell) the litter box, so the more likely you are to keep it clean—a win for both of you.
Before deciding where to put the litter box, figure out how many you need.
How many litter boxes do you need?
As a general rule, you should have one litter box per cat plus one extra. If you have one cat, you may be able to get away with one litter box in a small house or apartment if you clean it frequently; otherwise, you should have a second one. That extra litter box ensures your cat has an alternative place to go if he finds the first one unattractive (unclean) or unavailable (door got closed, guests are over, etc.).
If you have multiple cats in a small home, finding space for an appropriate number of litter boxes can get difficult. You may opt for fewer litter boxes, but then you must make sure to scoop once in the morning and once in the evening.
If cleaning several litter boxes twice a day seems like a tall order, you might want to invest in a self-cleaning litter box. Automatic litter boxes like Litter-Robot 4 clean up right after the cat uses it, so you don't have to spend time scooping, and each cat has a clean place to go every time. Litter-Robot has the same footprint as a traditional large litter pan, so it’ll fit easily in your small house or apartment.
Now that you know how many litter boxes you have to accommodate, where should you put them?
We're not so different
Without getting too intimate, think of the best place to locate the litter box like the best place to have a bathroom. (Perhaps there's no avoiding the intimacy; here we are, so let's dive in!) You probably want the bathroom to be located somewhere convenient—there's nothing worse than having to walk a long distance when you have to go! And the bathroom should be somewhere private, away from other people (something we humans typically accomplish with a door). Finally, you probably want the bathroom and the toilet to be clean and free of… remnants of previous users… You get the idea! These same qualities are what your cat looks for in their litter box.
The best place for the litter box
Again, the best place for the litter box is somewhere out of the way, but easy to access—for both of you. Your cat has to be able to get to the litter box when it's time to go and you have to be able to clean it easily. While that may sound obvious, some people's efforts to conceal the litter box or place it out of sight only create more hassle. Here's what else to look for in an ideal location:
Locate the litter box somewhere private or provide privacy with an enclosure, curtain, or cover. A great place to locate the litter box is your own bathroom, as long as you make sure to keep the door wide open when it's not in use. Many people tuck the litter box next to the toilet, between the toilet and tub, or under the sink.
You can find many ways to conceal the litter box, some of which may work for your space. For example, litter box furniture is designed to conceal your cat’s litter box in a piece of furniture, while blending in with other home decor and style.
Guest bedrooms are also a choice spot for the litter box, but in a studio apartment or small home, there may be no such thing as an extra room! Sometimes, however, there are entryway or hallway closets that can accommodate a litter box and offer privacy. Make sure to prop open the doorway (or cut a hole in the door if you own the place), so your cat has consistent access.
If you have a laundry or mud room, these are also common places people put the litter box. However, they may not be ideal; washers and dryers are noisy as they tumble clothes and sound buzzers, and mud rooms are prone to high traffic. If you have a skittish cat and must place the litter box in these spaces, consider placing it inside another piece of furniture to help your cat feel secure.
Quiet, calm, low traffic
Avoid placing the litter box in areas with high traffic, loud or abrupt noises, or where dogs can easily nose around. The litter box should be placed somewhere your kitty feels secure, so she never feels like she has to go elsewhere for relief. In small spaces, finding an always-calm spot may be challenging, so think beyond obvious spaces.
Reconfigure or repurpose furniture that already occupies your space to accommodate the litter box. Sideboards and side tables can be retrofitted to house the litter box and supplies. From the front you can't tell it's been modified, but from the side, you can see a kitty-sized entryway. There are many DIY options, or you can buy pre-made multi-tasking items, like a planter that houses the litter box.
Look for feedback and adjust
Once you find the ideal place for the litter box in your small house or tiny apartment, pay attention to your cat's behavior. Make sure your cat can get in and out of the litter box easily and that access isn't accidentally interrupted by laundry, shoes, grocery bags, or guests unknowingly closing doors.
If the location is working out, great! Otherwise, you may need to move the litter box to a more reliable location. If that is the case, it's best to gradually move the litter box toward the new location instead of abruptly disappearing it. Or, temporarily, you may want to introduce a litter box in a new location and let waste accumulate in the litter box in the old location to make it less attractive. Cats prefer a clean place to go and the new, clean litter box will become her new top choice.