When two cats get along, it’s normal for them to share pretty much everything. From food bowls to beds to spots on the couch, cats love to hang out together and can often be found relaxing in pairs.
The one thing they may not love sharing, however, is a litter box. While the idea of only having to scoop one litter box instead of two is appealing, it’s not always a good idea for two cats to share one box.
In this article we’ll cover the following:
Cleaning the litter box is probably the worst part of kitty parenthood, so it’s understandable that multiple-cat owners dream of only having to clean one box.
The problem? Our cats don’t always agree with us.
While it’s usually physically possible for two cats to share a litter box, provided it’s large enough and you don’t have enormous cats, many cats prefer to have their own.
It all boils down to innate feline behavior. Cats are territorial creatures, and it’s one of the many traits that domestication hasn’t muted in them. Even house cats, who have less territory to argue over, will compete for places to call their own. The litter box is often one of those places.
Cats like to keep clean, cover their waste, and do their business in private, and may resent having to use a litter box that another cat also uses.
If you try only having one litter box, you may find that one cat will consistently use the litter box while the second cat will “go” around the house or right next to the box to avoid encroaching on the other cat’s territory.
Once one cat claims the litter box as their own, the second cat is unlikely to use it.
This isn’t always the case, though. Some cats share a litter box with no issues, and it simply involves extra scooping on the owner’s part. This scenario is most common in households where two cats were raised together since kittenhood. They’re used to sharing their space.
If you introduce a kitten into a household with an adult cat, it’s unwise to assume the older cat will allow the kitten to use the current litter box. Because litter boxes and litter are relatively inexpensive, it’s easy to purchase two and keep them in the same room.
It means having to scoop two boxes, but it also lessens the probability that one of the cats will stealthily relieve themselves around the house. That’s where it really gets time-consuming and expensive.
While these two cats are arguing over a cardboard box, not a litter box, the behavior is very similar to what you might see with litter box aggression.
Most kittens are more easygoing than adult cats and will likely share a litter box. In fact, entire litters sometimes share the same box!
If you bring home two litter-mates or two similarly-aged kittens at the same time, it’s likely they’ll be satisfied with sharing a litter box.
This is partially because young kittens, by nature, are less territorial than their adult counterparts, and partly because of their size. Small kittens create less waste, leaving the litter box cleaner for longer.
With new kittens, you may have to do a little bit of trial and error to figure out which kind of litter box their prefer. Some kittens like large, open litter boxes so they can keep an eye on their surroundings when nature calls.
We highly recommend that you consider a sifting litter box with multiple cats for one simple reason; convenience. If you elect to scoop all of the cat “treasures” out of the box yourself every day, you’ll find yourself very busy and your back will probably hurt pretty quickly.
Some open litter boxes, such as the IRIS Open Top Cat Litter Box include a shield to help stop your cat from flinging litter everywhere.
Other kittens prefer the safe and secure feeling of an enclosed litter box, such as the Van Ness Odor Control Cat Pan. Covered litter boxes are often preferred by cat owners because they offer better odor control, are a little more discreet, and prevent the unwanted scattering of cat litter.
These kittens don’t mind sharing!
Trying to only have one litter box for multiple cats can be a recipe for disaster. Because cats are territorial, it makes them less-than-ideal sharers. They’re also particular about where they use the toilet and tend to have fastidious bathroom habits.
All of these factors can lead to what the experts have coined “litter box aggression.”
Some signs of litter box aggression are:
If your cats exhibit any of these signs, it’s best to purchase at least one litter box per cat to avoid future problems. You can even buy a two pack of litter boxes, such as the Favorite 2-Pack, which is a cost effective and convienent way of killing two birds with one stone.
There are some circumstances in which cats are more likely to be okay with sharing a litter box. If the cats were raised together and shared a litter box since kittenhood, it’s more likely they won’t have territorial issues when they get older.
Gender also plays a role. Two female cats are less likely to fight over the litter box than two males. Male cats tend to be more territorial and asking two male cats to share is unlikely to yield good results.
Also, neutered cats tend to be slightly less territorial in general than intact cats. While neutering your cat is unlikely to solve all territorial behaviors, it may make litter box sharing a little more palatable.
You won’t know if your two cats can share a litter box until you try it.
Cats that are different genders, who were raised together, and neutered are less likely to exhibit the strong territorial behavior that is at the root of litter box conflicts. However, none of these scenarios can guarantee that your cats can pee together in peace.
If your cat begins to show territorial behavior, your best bet is to simply purchase a second box. You can even purchase two litter boxes together right from the start, Favorite 2-Pack, to avoid any potential conflict.
While it’s no fun to have to clean two boxes and purchase twice the amount of litter, vet bills from a cat fight are even less fun!
What did you think of this post? Do you have more than one cat? Do they share a litter box? What are some other ways you’ve found to cope with having multiple cats when it comes to litter boxes? Tell us below! We’d love to hear from you!
After moving to New York City from Rome, Italy, I began working in the nonprofit world. Despite my day job, my passion has always been animals, especially dogs and cats, and writing. What better way to combine the two? I’ve been a pet owner for 15 years, and my menagerie includes dogs, cats, hamsters and the occasional hermit crab. My beloved cat, Mozart, who I found as a newborn kitten, sparked my love for felines and is now nearly 15 years old. I am an enthusiastic volunteer at the local ASPCA, where I enjoy spending time with the cats and cleaning up after the dogs. I’ve been writing about pet ownership and care for the past five years.