As someone with nine cats, I admit that I get tired of scooping litterboxes! It definitely isn’t my favorite thing about having cats.
New cat owners may wonder, are multiple litterboxes really necessary? Can two kittens share a litterbox?
Two kittens should not share a litterbox but instead need at least three litterboxes. Not having the recommended number of litterboxes can lead to lifelong behavioral problems.
Scooping three litterboxes is easier than picking up messes outside of the litterbox.
Cleaning litterboxes isn’t a fun part of having a cat, but it’s necessary for their wellbeing as well as for keeping a clean house.
2 Kittens Need at Least 3 Litterboxes
The rule for litterboxes is one per cat, plus one. This recommendation is given for a reason, and I personally wouldn’t break it.
Even one cat needs multiple litterboxes, and two kittens need at least three.
Cats communicate by smell way more than humans do, and urine and feces are ways of marking territory. This may or may not be important to your kittens.
While some cats will avoid a box used by another, or even one that smells after their own use, others aren’t as bothered.
It’s kind of like humans and public bathrooms. I don’t use them unless I have to because I’m worried they’ll be nasty. Others aren’t so worried about the mess—and some of them, unfortunately, are the ones creating it in the first place!
Cats have different personalities just like people, so this is something to keep in mind with your kittens.
But in general, I would always recommend three litterboxes for two kittens. This is mostly because, by the time you catch your kitten going outside the litterbox, it’s going to be difficult to fix that problem.
The smell of cat urine is difficult to remove entirely, and your kitten will continue to go in that place so long as it still smells.
Eliminating outside of the litterbox is also a difficult behavior to stop, and it’s better to just never let it begin in the first place.
Spread the Litterboxes throughout Your Home
It makes sense to people to put litterboxes in the same area all clumped together, preferably out of the way in the lesser-used area of the house.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for cats. If you place two or more litterboxes too close together, they may see it as the same territory.
I witnessed this first-hand when I tried to place two small litterboxes together in a hallway years ago. One of my cats would always poop where the boxes met, creating a mess on the sides and between the boxes.
I replaced this with one, larger litterbox and that fixed the problem. While it was annoying to have to find a new area of the house to put another litterbox, it actually ended up better for me in the end because I could simply scoop the boxes, rather than having to scrub things down so often.
You don’t need litterboxes at completely separate ends of your home or even in different rooms, but try to space them at least a few feet apart so that your cat sees each as its own individual space.
This will also be helpful so that they don’t avoid both boxes when only one is smelly. Too close, and your cat may assume both boxes are unclean.
Multiple Litterboxes are Easier to Clean
It seems like three litterboxes would be much more difficult to clean than one, right? In my experience, this is completely untrue.
If both of your kittens are using one litterbox, the waste in that box will be triple that of a two-kitten home with three litterboxes.
If you’re using a clumping litter, all of that waste will clump together and be more difficult to scoop. Your kittens may also try to avoid the messy parts of the box, which can lead to them pooping down the side or even missing the litterbox entirely.
This would lead to you having to wipe down the side of the litterbox or clean your floors.
In contrast, three litterboxes give your kittens three times the space. If one box is filling up, they’ll likely move to another that’s less full.
Though you’ll be scooping three boxes, each one will go more quickly and be easier to scoop.
Think about cleaning your house daily versus letting your mess accumulate for three days. If you only do your dishes once every three days, in theory you’re doing less cleaning—but in reality you’re scrubbing crusty plates and doing more work than you would’ve if you’d cleaned them after each meal.
Scoop Daily and Replace Litter when Dirty
We’ve discussed how many litterboxes you need, but you can still encounter troubles if they aren’t properly cleaned. The overflowing box in the basement isn’t usable, and won’t do your cats any good!
Every litterbox in your home should be scooped at least once every 1-2 days, have the litter refreshed when needed, and be wiped down as soon as possible when there’s a mess on the side or bottom of the box.
If the litterbox smells after scooping, that’s another sign that the litter needs to be emptied and replaced. Before replacing the litter, wash the litterbox out with soap and water.
I like to do this outside with a garden hose when the weather’s nice enough, as I find that to be the easiest way to clean litterboxes.
If you have a covered litterbox, be sure to clean the top part regularly as well.
The above is a rough guideline that works generally, but you might find that a different schedule works better in your household.
For example, if you have a cat that frequently poops on the side of the litterbox rather than the center, you may need to scrub down the sides of the box more frequently. This might be easier to do by emptying the litter from the box, hence more litter changes.
Another cat may be fussy about using the box and need their litter scooped a few times a day. If someone in your home is sensitive to the smell of the litter box, you may also scoop more often.
Bigger Houses Require More Litterboxes
If you have a large house or a house with multiple floors, you may need more litterboxes than the average person.
At least one litterbox on each floor the cats are allowed on is crucial, as some cats won’t search the whole house to find a usable litterbox.
This is also why it’s advised not to hide litterboxes out of sight or restrict them to the basement of your home. Although this can be convenient for you in theory, it’s inconvenient for your cat and can lead to them finding their own, more convenient place to use the bathroom.
If your house is very large, you might even want a litterbox on each side of each floor to be sure your cats can easily make it to a litterbox when they need to go.
If You Insist on One Litterbox, Scoop Frequently
Of course, there are cats who can share a litterbox and households that make one litterbox work. It’s not ideal, and if you insist on trying it, then you should be willing to put in the work.
In households with multiple cats and only one litterbox, the box needs to be scooped frequently. I would recommend multiple times a day.
Some cats might not use the litterbox unless you scoop it every single time it’s used. This is why one litterbox isn’t recommended—because it can actually be more work than having multiple!
If you allow your litterbox to get smelly and go a day or more without being scooped, don’t be surprised if your kitten poops or pees outside the box. And don’t blame them, either.
Cats are naturally very clean animals. It’s something we take advantage of, and it’s what makes litter training a kitten so easy.
It also means they don’t want to hang out in gross, smelly areas—including their litterboxes. For them, it’s like using a disgusting public restroom. No one wants to do that!
That’s why I heavily recommend meeting your cats’ needs and doing right by them, not trying to push against their instincts and force them to use the same litterbox—especially one you cannot keep clean.
I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry. My full bio