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7 common litter box mistakes

I thought about writing this post just to help our fellow ForeverHumans by putting something concrete out there regarding cat litter boxes think of it as a sort of litter box 101 if you will, but the problem with this is that the whole litter box saga is sort of like the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, but filled with poop instead, because you’re constantly digging and digging and digging and digging and there’s just more stuff and more stuff.


Kitten inside a litter trayFact of the matter is there is never a last word on litter boxes, so I am going to do my best to uncover some of the common mistakes I see people make, there is more than 7 obviously, but I am going to focus on the 7 most important ones in my opinion, quality over quantity is the name of the game.

Before I start some of you might wonder what the correct ratio is between the amount of litter boxes you need in regards with the number of cats you have, luckily there is a tried and tested “Formula” for this, it’s called the “Litter Box Formula”. Just kidding I have no clue what it’s called or if it even has a name, but that’s neither here nor there, point is the Formula goes as follows:

Have at least one litter box per cat plus an extra litter box

So this means if you have one cat you need 2 litter boxes (1 per cat plus 1 extra). If you have 2 cats, you want 2 litter boxes plus 1 so 3 litter boxes (1 per cat times 2 plus 1 extra). If you have 3 cats then you want 4 litter boxes (1 per cat times 3 plus 1 extra).

  • 1 cat = 2 Litter Boxes
  • 2 cats = 3 Litter Boxes
  • 3 cats = 4 Litter Boxes
  • 4 cats = 5 Litter Boxes
  • 10 cats = 11 Litter Boxes

Right, now that we got that out of the way let’s get started with common litter box mistakes cat owners make.

Mistake #1: Having the litter box in the wrong place

litter boxes stacked next to each other

Place the litter boxes out separately in socially important places, this is very important and I want you to read very carefully what I am about to say. I don’t want to see you saying to me I have three litter boxes just like you said and then all three of those boxes are side to side in the corner of the garage, no. You have to put them in places that are, socially important places.

How many people have said this: “Cats want privacy”…. Mmmm, so you’re saying your cat wants to go into a cabinet that is a disguised litter box? That’s ridiculous to say the very least. If your cat had it his way, he would be peeing and pooping in a bush right outside your door to mark that territory, your cat doesn’t need privacy, you do.

You don’t like seeing your cat pooping and peeing around the house, so what do you do? You put the litter box in the washing room behind the washing machine, you put it in the garage under the car, you’ll put them where you don’t have to look at them.

ForeverHumans trust me if you want to solve litter box problems at home, make the opposite choice of what your aesthetics is telling you to make. If your cat is insecure and marking certain territories, because they feel insecure about that area, put a litter box there, because at the very least you can praise them for doing something right rather than damning them for doing something wrong ( Wrong to you, not wrong to them, you failed to understand what makes your Friskies, Whiskies, MrBajongles tick. )

Mistake #2: Scented litter “Odor absorbing marketing speu”

Shopping basket with detergent bottles and chemical cleaning supplies isolated on whiteThis leads me to the second mistake I come across a lot, you got your 3 litter boxes now and you’ve placed them around the living room and other socially active places. What’s the next thing you do? You deodorize the hell out of it, plugging in air fresheners all over the place, even using the scented litter, that drives cats away.

Just stop and think about the fact that you only have 5 million scent receptors while your cat has 200 million. What is “scented” to you can be a source of avoidance for your cat. Smell is incredibly important to them especially with pooping, watch your cat, look what he/she is doing after they pooped, they smell it, they smell the surroundings they cover it up a little bit and then smell it again to make sure it’s perfect, now you come along and do silly stuff like use scented litter and deodorisers to please your nose. No just no. If you want to sort the odor out then use a natural litter and clean the damn thing that way odor control is done…naturally!

Pro Tip: Scoop. The. Poop.

You complain about the smell, about having to look at the mess inside the box…and yet you avoid scooping it like it was a trip to Home Affairs. Your cats don’t like navigating the minefield of nasty clumps anymore than you like to see or smell it. So scoop that badboy every day. Not twice a week!

Mistake #3: Using the wrong type of litter box

Litter box with a lod onI see many people using the litter box which has the big hood on it and then what people do is they take the opening and point it to the wall, because for some reason humans just really don’t like to look at poop.

It’s important to remember that you need to use and place your litter box in a manner where there is multiple exits from the litter box, wherever they go in, they got to know they can come out again. Remember when they are in that litter box facing the wall and a another cat or dog or baby or human comes up behind and frightens them, they’re surely not going to come back to a box where they get ambushed and cornered.

Large cat litter boxMy advice is to use an open litter box, remember cats prefer large open spaces in which they have enough space to move around. If you have senior cats with mobility issues, the box should have low edges so they can enter and exit easily.

Covered boxes are intended for humans to keep odors away and most cats won’t like them, they also create a dark environment, they trap odors inside, remember the whole 200 million receptors and importance of smell plus your cat will feel trapped if there is only one exit and another animal can harass them from the outside.

Mistake #4: Using the Wrong Litter

litter typesI have briefly touched on this as this usually goes hand in hand with mistake number two, determining the right litter is not easy and is often more a trial and error since not every litter is the same and not all cats like them all. Two important things to consider are smell and texture. Perfumed litters are intended for humans, not for the cats. Cats prefer odorless litters since they are extremely sensitive to smells. And a lot of cats prefer fine and sandy litters.

Perhaps the reason your cat is not using the litter box is because he/she doesn’t like the litter, so you may need to experiment with several different kinds until you find the one your cat likes, the following is a good place to start.

  • Use litters that aren’t scented and that are labeled “fragrance free,” I am very against scented litter as many cats find strong perfumes objectionable to say the very least. Artificial fragrances that are added to litter only mask the smell of urine and feces, and they can be so overpowering that your cat decides to avoid the litter box altogether.
  • Even “natural” litters made of ingredients like corn, pine, and wheat may have offensive fragrances added. A cat may also be deterred by the natural scent of the ingredients themselves, or they may not be able to absorb odors effectively enough.
  • Your cat may have a preference when it comes to the texture of the litter, so try to pay attention to how your cat reacts to different types of litter if you’re still searching for the right one.

Mistake #5: Litter Volume – Having too much or too little litter in the box

This is a complicated one actually that is overlooked a lot. Like the saying goes: “different strokes for different folks” Different cats prefer different amounts of litter in their box. Take, for instance, an arthritic, older cat. When there is a full box of litter, you’ve created a scenario where, especially when pooping, the cat must “grip on” to the substrate to gain stability. That in itself, can cause discomfort.

The amount of litter does make a considerable difference. Too much can make your cat sink and too little can avoid your cat to fully cover. Try adjusting the amount and see if that helps.

For Meow Meow and bubbles I have a little bit more type of approach I have three litter boxes each filled with a little bit more litter than the one before and no matter where I rotate the litter boxes they prefer the one that is a little bit fuller than the other two.

Pro Tip: When in doubt, go for the softest litter you can.

Mistake #6: Not cleaning the litter box, enough.

cat litter boxI have mentioned this before in the odor control section, but lets focus on this more shall we. Try to imagine yourself in your cat’s position. Would you like to go to a toilet that has been flushed once a week or even once a day? This is very important, since cats are extremely clean and most of them won’t want to use a dirty litter box.

Also ensure there is always a clean box to go in, especially if you have a cat who doesn’t like to share his box with others.

Not if, but when you use soap to wash it, try to use a scentless one so your cat won’t come back to a strong smell.

I clean mine twice a day and I have three litter boxes, keep it as clean as possible your cats will reward you in the end, by not developing weird behavioural problems that is caused by litter box issues you failed to address when you had the opportunity.

Mistake #7: Not addressing your Cat’s needs

cat memeEvery cat is an individual, so for the best results, you have to figure out what your particular cat prefers.

We don’t want more cats in shelters because of problems the owners could have solved if only they understood their feline companion(s) better.

Do you have something you want to add or advice around litter box behaviour and issues, please leave us a reply below or E-mail us and we will amend the post.