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Where to put a cat litter box to make your kitty (and you) happy

where to put cat litter box

AP Buyline’s content is created independently of The Associated Press newsroom. Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we might earn commissions from our partners’ links in this content. Learn more about our policies and terms here.

Abby Ferguson
Updated April 18, 2024

As much as we love our cats, finding an ideal home for their litter box can be challenging. Cats can be particular creatures, so locating the magical spot can feel impossible. Making things more complicated, you need to balance what works for you, your cat and your home.

Since every cat has its preferences, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for where to put a cat litter box. But, we did chat with a veterinarian to identify locations to avoid, as well as spots that should work well for most cats.

In a nutshell

Choosing where to put a cat litter box comes down to each cat and your particular home, but there are some useful starting points.

  • Choose a location that is out of high-traffic areas but still easily accessible at all times.
  • Do not place a litter box near your cat’s food and water.
  • Make sure you have enough litter boxes for the number of cats and floors in your home.

Why litter box placement matters

Where you put a cat litter box is extremely important because “cats are often very selective about when and where they eliminate,” explains Dr. Hannah Hart, a veterinarian at Chewy. Finding the right location can help your cat successfully use their litter box instead of leaving you with a mess to clean up on the floor, or other (worse) areas in your home. Plus, “proper litter box placement can also prevent stress in your cat, which can help them fend off illnesses, like urinary tract disease and digestive upset,” says Hart.

Factors to consider when choosing the best location


The location should be accessible at all times. “Cats are most active during the dawn and dusk hours, so having litter boxes accessible during the early hours of the day and evening is preferable.”

Number of floors in your home

If you have multiple levels in your home, you may want to consider placing a litter box on each floor so that one is easily accessible to your cat at all times. That’s especially important if you have an elderly cat. “As cats get older, they prefer litter boxes that are easy to get into and out of, so keeping a litter box on each level of a multi-story home prevents senior cats from needing to use a set of steps to eliminate multiple times per day,” explains Hart.

Number of cats

How many cats you have also determines where you should place your litter box. “It is generally recommended to have one litter box per cat in your household, plus a spare one,” says Hart. “So if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes; for two cats, have three litter boxes, and so on. This is so there is a litter box for both urination and solid waste, and it helps in case some cats don’t like sharing a litter box.”

Room size

While cats may want somewhere relatively private to go to the bathroom — who can blame them? — it still should be convenient to get to, and not “in too small of an area that makes the cat feel trapped and unable to escape should a threat arise,” says Hart. Instead, “most cats prefer a roomy, aerated litter box that’s secluded from the loudest, most active areas of the home,” she explains.

Humidity and temperature

When choosing where to put a cat litter box, you’ll want to consider humidity and temperature levels. Damp, humid areas may make the smell from the litter box worse. Depending on the type of litter you use, it could also cause problems with the litter. Also, avoid locations with extreme temperatures — garages that aren’t climate-controlled probably aren’t the best spot, and damp basements should be avoided, too.


Good ventilation is important for both you and your cat. Without sufficient airflow, odors can build up and make for an unpleasant environment for everyone. Avoid closed-off spaces — such as small closets — to prevent stinky odors from lingering.

Where to put the litter box

A quiet, private area with an escape

While cats need easy and constant access to a litter box, they are also sensitive to noise and lots of activity. “Since cats are predators, they are naturally wary that the smell of urine and stool may attract predators, so they prefer to be somewhat hidden when using their litter boxes,” explains Hart.

While they want an area out of the way, they also need access to a quick escape. Avoid spaces that are too tight, which could make the “cat feel trapped and unable to escape should a threat arise,” says Hart. Small closets or tight corners aren’t great spots.

Away from food and water

While you may be tempted to place all your cat’s necessary items in one area, that’s not a great idea. “Cats in the wild prefer not to eliminate close to food and water sources to avoid contaminating them with waste material,” says Hart. “House cats, similarly, have retained this instinct to urinate and defecate in locations far away from their food and water bowls.” So, be sure to find a location that offers plenty of separation between their food and water source and their litter box.

Likewise, it’s best to keep a litter box away from your food and water, as well. That means out of kitchens and dining rooms. On top of not being very sanitary, it’s not pleasant to have litter box odors mingling with your food smells.

Know your cat

It may seem like there are more “don’ts” than “dos” when it comes to litter box placement. If you live in a smaller home or apartment, it can be especially challenging to find a spot where it makes sense to place a cat litter box. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that each cat is different. Some may prefer having the litter box in a corner with two walls for protection, while others may need a more central location. If you have a new cat, it may take some trial and error, but be cautious not to move the litter box too often.

Every home is different, too. For example, some bathrooms may be dry and large enough for a litter box, while others may be too damp and too small. For example, if you have a studio apartment, you’ll just need to go with wherever there’s room. Don’t be afraid to do what works best for you (and your cat).

Common mistakes to avoid when placing a litter box

Hart tells us that the most common mistake is placing a litter box in an area with a lot of noise. “Noise may startle cats or be perceived as a threat when trying to eliminate, so they may avoid peeing or pooping in a litter box that is too close to a high-traffic, busy area of the home,” she explains.

Another common mistake is placing the litter box in a space that is too enclosed or small, which could result in an environment that makes a cat feel trapped. Finally, keep the litter box away from your cat’s food and water.

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Broadly speaking, “cats may prefer locations that are easy to get to but also provide some privacy and protection,” explains Hart. The best areas to put your litter box are out of the main traffic zones of your home but not in a space that is too dark, enclosed or hard to reach. Ultimately, every cat is different and will have its preferences on where a litter box should be. They can also be quite particular, so it may take trial and error to find a location that works for both you and your cat.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Where should you not put a litter box?

There are a few locations that aren’t ideal for a litter box. “For example,” says Hart, “cats may avoid garages because they may be too dark and too cold for them during certain times of the year.” Cats may also avoid hard-to-reach locations, such as attics or up a few flights of stairs. Additionally, high-traffic areas with lots of noise, such as busy playrooms or laundry rooms, could be less than ideal for cats. Finally, cats may also avoid closets because they are too dark and enclosed.

Is it OK to put a litter box in the bathroom?

Bathrooms are great places to put litter boxes. “They are often easy for cats to reach, relatively quiet most of the time and spacious enough,” says Hart. “It’s also easy to monitor your cat’s urine and stool output when his or her litter box is in a commonly used room.”

Where should a cat litter box be placed in a living room?

A living room likely provides easy access for your cat, so it can also be a good place for a litter box. Just be sure to find “a quiet corner of the living room for the box so that the cat can easily access the box without being in the center of any noise or activity that is going on,” recommends Hart. “If your cat has a particular area of the living room where they spend the most time, that might also be a good spot for the litter box because they would be more likely to visit that location voluntarily to eliminate.”

Is it OK to put the litter box near the cat's food bowls?

Experts do not recommend putting a litter box near where the cat eats. “Cats are fairly fastidious animals, and they have an instinct to separate their elimination activities from their eating and drinking locations to avoid contaminating their food and water sources with urine or fecal material,” explains Hart. “As such, it’s best to find an accessible location for the litter box that is a sufficient distance away from a cat’s food bowl.”

AP Buyline’s content is created independently of The Associated Press newsroom. Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we might earn commissions from our partners’ links in this content. Learn more about our policies and terms here.