I have seen a few suggestions in answers to other questions about it. But when I look I can never find it.

If I have multiple cats in my home, how many litter boxes should I have?


2 Answers 2


Rule of thumb is n + 1 litter boxes for n cats where n is greater than 1, this ensures a plentiful supply of this particular resource - with cats behaving more as individuals than a co-operative unit (such as a pack) they are more likely to accept sharing territory with another cat if there is no competition for key resources (toilet area, food, water etc)

It's by no means a hard and fast rule - my two get on just fine with two boxes between them but particularly during the introduction phase ensuring no or minimal resource competition is highly recommended.

  • Agreed with the no hard and fast rule. I have 2 cats who have only ever used 1 large box (I just have to be diligent in cleaning it 1-2x per day). But 1 per cat is the recommended minimum, and try to avoid reducing the amount of boxes you start with.
    – Gwendolyn
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 18:23
  • 14
    so if you have zero cats, you should have one litter box? Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 19:21
  • 4
    @JohnOsborne I mean, where else are you gonna go?
    – C. Helling
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 19:26

The popular answer is "One box per cat, plus one extra", but I think it's a bit more complex (or a bit more flexible, depending on how you look at it).

You may need more than "cats + 1" boxes if:

  • You live in a very large house. You want using a box to always be an attractive option, and if your cats can't bear to share a box, and one cat's personal toilet is in the basement and he's on the top floor and feeling lazy, well...
  • You live in a very small space and your cats feel crowded and territorial
  • Your cats don't get along well, or are 'resource guarders'
  • You have an older, UTI-prone, or medically compromised cat that can't 'hold it' well
  • Your cats are prone to stress or territorial marking
  • You don't want to clean very often (less than once a day)
  • Your various cats have different litter or box-style preferences/needs

You can probably get away with less than "cats + 1" boxes if your cats are happy to share, get along well, don't resource guard, are in a smaller-but-also-not-too-cramped space, and you clean the boxes frequently (daily or more often). If you prefer to use very large boxes, that could also possibly reduce the number needed, as long as your cats don't mind sharing.

I have always used 2 boxes for my two cats with good success, and they can share one box for short periods without seeming stressed, but pushing the limits too much can cause elimination issues that are much, much harder to fix than they are to prevent, so I stick with two even though odds are one box would be 'good enough' for my cats as long as I cleaned frequently enough.

  • What is small for a cat? Jw Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:40
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    Honestly I am not sure how to quantify it, since 'feeling crowded' depends a lot on how much vertical space is available (cat trees etc), and on the relationship between cats, if they are accustomed to being indoor pets, if they are neutered or not, etc. This question has been asked, actually, and the only answer was similarly inconclusive: pets.stackexchange.com/questions/7709/…
    – Meg
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:44

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