How Many Cat Litter Trays for my House

Dr Kate Mornement - Vet and Pet Behaviourist profile picture

Dr Kate Mornement - Vet and Pet Behaviourist

PhD in Companion Animal Behaviour, BSc(Hons) in Zoology

Dr Kate Mornement is an Applied Animal Behaviourist, Consultant and Educator to pet parents, industry, government and media. She has a PhD which focused on companion animal behaviour from Monash University and a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Zoology (Animal Behaviour) from Latrobe university.

How Many Cat Litter Trays for my House

Litter trays are essential if you have an indoor cat but how many litter trays do you need for your house and where should they be located?

How many litter trays?

The number of litter trays you need depends on several factors including the number of cats you have, whether your cats are restricted to living indoors only or if they have access to a garden, how many levels you have in your home as well as the size of your home and outdoor space.

Number of Cats

The more cats you have, the more litter trays you need.

The general rule for providing litter trays to indoor only cats is ‘one tray per cat plus an additional tray’. Supplying surplus trays is especially important in multi-cat household due to the territorial nature of cats. Some cat may perceive another cat using their tray negatively. Others may avoid using trays that smell of other cats they live with. This can lead to inappropriate toileting due to competition for access.

Providing multiple trays can help to avoid this and increases the likelihood your cats will continue to toilet in their trays.

Size and Layout of your Home

The size and layout of your home is another important consideration when it comes to deciding how many litter trays you need. If you live in a small one-storey home or apartment, then two litter trays should be plenty. However if you live in a large, multi-storey home, having litter trays available in different areas of the home can be beneficial and helps to reduce instances of inappropriate toileting.

Size and Type of Litter tray

Many cats develop preference for the type of litter tray (open vs enclosed) and litter substrate they prefer. In general, however, large open trays are preferred with several inches of litter. That said, every cat is different so experiment to find out your cat’s individual preference.

Location of Litter Trays

Placement of litter trays is another important consideration.

Aim to place the litter trays in locations that are somewhat private, easy to access and in a quiet place.

Litter trays located in busy thoroughfares or next to washing machine or dryers can result in some cats avoiding using them due to their placement. Most cats prefer a location where they can see other animals or people approaching and where they have an escape option if they feel threatened.

It's also important not to place the litter trays next to one another, as this can be perceived as one toileting area. Instead, ensure there’s at least a meter or two between litter trays. Even better, place the litter trays in different rooms or areas of the home. Bathrooms and laundries are the most common places to place litter trays however this can vary depending on your home and set up.

What about cats that have access to the outdoors?

If your cat has free access outside and prefers toileting outdoors then you may not need any litter trays. However, if your cat has restricted access to the outdoors, such as a cat enclosure, balcony or patio, then you should still provide litter trays inside the house. You can also place a litter tray in their outdoor space if it’s weather proof, however most cats will happily use their indoor trays.

Ensure you clean the litter trays daily as some cats are fussy and do not like toileting in a dirty litter tray. Top up the litter as needed and wash the litter trays weekly to ensure they remain appealing for your cat to use.

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