Can Cats Share a Litter Box?

Photo: @storyof_lunaalaska

The answer is yes and no. Cats can technically share a litter box but it’s not the best idea. It can lead to potential behavioral and health problems. 

Don’t feel bad for asking this question, it’s one many multi-cat owners often have!

In this article we’ll get into the details, and elaborate on why it’s a bad idea generally. We’ll also touch on how to handle multiple cats in one household and how many litter boxes you should ideally have.

Understanding Cat Territories and Litter Boxes

It’s essential to understand your cat’s territory, especially when it comes to sharing litter boxes. Cat territories aren’t just about their outdoor prowling areas – they’re also about their favorite windowsills, cozy sleeping spots, and yes, even their litter boxes.

Cats mark their territories using scent glands located on various parts of their bodies. And one of the most potent ways a cat can leave its scent is through its waste in a litter box.

So if multiple cats are using the same box… well, I’m sure you can see where this might cause some territorial aggression.

Let’s look at some stats real quick:

  • The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends having at least one more litter box than you have cats.
  • A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that inappropriate elimination (cat-speak for peeing outside the box) was significantly reduced when each cat had its own box.

Alpha cats may claim specific paths in the house and can block access to the litter box for other cats, causing unwanted accidents.

To avoid territorial disputes, a pet owner should place two litter boxes at opposite ends of the house, making it impossible for one cat to guard both. A third box can be placed in a middle location or on a different floor in multi-story homes.

Health & Hygiene Considerations

Now onto hygiene. It’s important to remember that unlike us humans who flush away our waste instantly, cat waste stays in the litter box till we clean it out.

So if multiple kitties are sharing one box, there’s more poop and pee accumulating which means higher chances of spreading diseases among them.

Diseases like urinary tract infections or intestinal parasites can be easily spread from one cat to another through shared use of a single dirty litter box.

Here are some quick facts:

  • Cat-to-cat transmission: Diseases such as toxoplasmosis or feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) can spread through shared litter boxes.
  • Stress-related issues: Increased stress from sharing can also potentially lead to other problems like inappropriate elimination (a.k.a., peeing outside the box).
Potential ProblemsExplanation
Cat-to-cat transmissionDiseases can spread through shared litter boxes
Stress-related issuesSharing can increase stress leading to behavioral issues

No matter how many cats you have at home, I advise keeping an extra number of boxes on hand. A good rule of thumb is one per cat plus one more just in case. This gives them options and promotes healthy bathroom habits.

I understand that maintaining multiple separate litter boxes seems like a lot of work but trust me when I say it’ll save you headaches down the line. More importantly —it’ll keep your feline pals happy and healthy. 

Litter Box Cleanliness

Next up: cleanliness. A clean litter box is as crucial for our feline friends. Cats are meticulously clean animals and they appreciate a nice space for doing their business.

If one cat is messier than the other or if the box isn’t maintained regularly enough, some cats might decide to “hold it” rather than step paw in a dirty litter box.

Cats are Individual

Cats can feel the certain way about sharing a litter tray. If they’re not comfortable with the other cat or if there’s any tension between them – maybe from past squabbles or just overall bad vibes – it could seriously hinder their willingness to share.

And then there’s each cat’s individual personality. Just like people, cats have different preferences and comfort levels when it comes to privacy and sharing spaces.

Some cats are more laid-back and wouldn’t mind sharing at all while others might need a little more persuasion before they give up their preferred litter box. 

Pros and Cons of Cats Sharing a Litter Box

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of this controversial feline matter.

Pro – Less Litter Box Maintenance

While I don’t recommend it, there are some perks

Having your furry friends share a cat litter box can definitely save space in your home. It also means less cleaning for you – it’s only one box instead of multiples after all.

Plus, if you’re on a budget (super common these days), having just one litter box could save you some cash too. No need to splurge on extra boxes or more varieties of kitty litter.


But there are definitely some downsides to consider. Cats are notoriously territorial animals and it could lead to behavioral problems like marking territory outside the box.

Moreover, health issues may pop up when cats share a single litter box. For instance, if one cat has a contagious disease that spreads through feces (like toxoplasmosis), other cats using the same box could get infected.

At times it may prove difficult for multiple cats to stick to one schedule which may result in them needing to use the facilities at the same time…awkward!

And as mentioned before, an alpha cat can really causes litter box issues with this setup and prevent other cats from using it. 

Litter Box Sizing

One thing is certain though: If you decide that sharing is caring when it comes to kitty toilets — make sure that size matters. Your shared litter box should be big enough for all your cats to use comfortably.

I’d recommend a larger litter box, about one and a half times the combined length of your cats. It’s not always easy being a cat parent, but providing them with extra litter boxes and a comfortable space to relieve themselves is something we can all manage.

What about Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes?

Self-cleaning litter boxes can be a game-changer for cat parents. They maintain themselves and reduce the hassle of scooping, especially in a multi-cat household.

Self-cleaning boxes can be particularly helpful when cats are sharing, as they ensure that the box is always cleaned and ready to use. However, I advise monitoring your cats initially as some may be scared of the automatic scooping mechanism and need time to adjust.

Placement of Your Cat’s Litter Boxes

The placement of litter boxes is pivotal in ensuring that your cats use them. I recommend placing the clean litter boxes in quiet, low-traffic areas where your cats can have their privacy.

In multi-cat households, having litter boxes in different locations can make it more likely for cats to share peacefully. Consider your cats’ preferred locations and paths in the house when deciding on the placement, ensuring that every cat has easy access.

Where Should I Avoid Placing My Litter Boxes?

Avoid placing litter boxes next to loud appliances or in busy, high-traffic areas of the house. These locations can be stressful for cats and may discourage them from using the box. Additionally, do not place the litter box close to their food and water.

Cats prefer to keep their eating areas separate from their elimination areas. Finding the perfect spot can be challenging, but observing your cats’ behavior and preferences can provide valuable insights.

Can I Place the Litter Boxes Next to Each Other?

Placing litter boxes side by side can be counterproductive, especially in households with territorial cats. It’s akin to having just one box, and dominant cats may guard the area, blocking access to other cats.

I recommend spreading the litter boxes throughout the house, allowing each cat to have its preferred box and reducing the likelihood of issues. Remember, the goal is to create a harmonious environment where every cat feels safe and comfortable with their litter box habits.

How helpful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Shop Today's Deals on Cat Litter & Cleaning!

From Our #1 Ranked Online Pet Store

  • 365 day returns
  • 24/7 support
  • Discounts on new customers, Autoship, 1-3 day delivery & more!

Shop Today's Deals on Litter & Cleaning!

From Our #1 Ranked Online Pet Store

  • 365 day returns
  • 24/7 support
  • Discounts on new customers, Autoship, 1-3 day delivery & more!