Small living spaces, such as a small 1-bedroom flat or studio apartment, can be a really challenging environment for cat owners. Felines are fussy about where they use their litter tray. You’ll need to find a spot that offers privacy, quiet, and easy accessibility. That’s easier said than done.
If you have a spare bedroom or laundry room, place the tray there. These rooms can become your cat’s territory. A linen closest could also work. If necessary, carve out territory for your cat in a living room. Bathrooms can be ideal, but you may experience logistical issues with moisture and closed doors. Avoid kitchens for hygiene reasons.
Keep the litter box away from food and water. The smell of litter can deter cats from eating and drinking. You’ll also need to ensure your cat can reach the litter box at all times. Finding the ideal location in small spaces is challenging, but achievable if you’re prepared to be creative.
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Cat Litter Box Placement in a Studio Apartment or Small Flat
The ideal location for a litter box must meet certain criteria. According to the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, the wrong elimination spot can lead to a lack of cleanliness. This table outlines a cat’s litter box location needs:
|Privacy:||Cats do not wish to be disturbed while eliminating. Locate the box in a private area.|
|Quiet:||Do not place a litter box too close to a television, stereo or window. Cats do not want to eliminate where it’s noisy.|
|Separate Food and Water:||Keep a litter box far away from food and water bowls in separate rooms. If not possible, use opposite corners.|
|Accessibility:||Do not keep a litter box behind closed doors. Your cat needs access at all hours of the day.|
|Safety:||Cats feel insecure while eliminating. Keep a litter box in the corner of a room.|
|Within Sight:||Ensure that you can and clean see the litter box.|
Let’s look at a typical small apartment. Consider your own home, and assess which location is most suited for a litter box.
It’s no secret that cats are territorial animals. All cats will look to stake a claim to parts of a home to call their own. This could be as simple as scratching the stair carpet. If you have a spare room, assign this to your cat. This can be the location of its litter box.
Obviously, spare rooms are often hard to come by in a small apartment. It may not be possible to provide a cat with its own unique space. The room does not need to be large as a cat needs 18 square feet of space.
If you have a second bedroom, this is the best place for a cat’s litter box. The cat will quickly come to understand that this room belongs to it. It will be much more comfortable eliminating in such a location. The cat knows that it will not be disturbed.
Respect this process by staying out of the room as much as possible. Only enter to clean when strictly necessary and do so while the cat is elsewhere.
As discussed, a cat’s private room does not need to be large. If you have a storage room too small for human occupancy, the cat will be fine.
This does not even have to be a room, in its purest sense. It may be a cubbyhole that you use to store coats and umbrellas. As long as there is a clear path to the litter box, this will work.
This clear path is all-important, though. Do not create an obstacle course for your cat to negotiate. This will cause stress. Ensure that the litter box is unmoving and easy to see and access.
Most small apartments will not have a designated laundry room. If your home is an exception, this is the perfect place for a litter box. You will barely use this space, so a cat can claim it.
Be cautious of your washing machine. Make sure the cat does not climb inside. Some cats seek warmth and privacy in these appliances. As the cat considers the laundry room it’s domain, the same applies to everything within.
Keep the litter box as far from the washing machine as possible, too. These appliances can be noisy. That may be upsetting for a nervous cat.
You should also be mindful of your fresh laundry. Do not leave this in baskets in the room for prolonged periods. A cat will climb into this basket for comfort. If the cat has dirty paws from the litter box, you’ll need to wash everything all over again.
If you have a walk-in linen closet, this could be ideal for a litter box. You’ll obviously need to remove any solid doors. A cloth cover is fine. This will give your cat the privacy it craves and offers some masking of scents.
There are certain issues that arise from using a linen closet for a litter tray, though. The smell is one of them. Cat urine carries a strong scent of ammonia. This could potentially start to seep into your linen after a while. This could be quite off-putting after a shower.
In addition, remember that felines love soft materials. Your cat may leap onto your clean towels immediately after eliminating. In doing so, it will coat your linen in litter. Depending on how clean the box was, cat paws may also smear traces of urine or feces.
Install solid shelves and raise them high enough for a cat not to reach. This way, you’ll have the best of both worlds. Your cat will be able to eliminate in peace, and your towels will remain clean and smell fresh.
Your bedroom could be a good place for a cat’s litter box. This room is typically quiet, and your cat will take comfort from the familiar scents. You are also unlikely to feed your cat here, providing appropriate distance from food and water.
As always, though, there are a handful of challenges. You’ll need to keep your bedroom door open at all times. This could be considered an invasion of privacy.
An open door is critical for two reasons, though. In addition to affording access to the cat, a litter box will start to smell. You do not want that aroma trapped where you sleep. It is advisable to periodically crack a window. Air freshener will also become indispensable.
You also need to consider that cats can be noisy after eliminating. Cats bury their waste as an instinctive behavior. It helps them avoid detection from predators. How will you feel about a cat scratching around at its litter tray at 3am?
Living rooms are arguably the most common location for litter boxes in small apartments. This is likely to be the largest room in the home, affording the most space. You’ll still need to follow certain protocols, though.
If you want to keep a litter box in the living room, feed the cat elsewhere. The kitchen is probably best. This way, there will be a clear and definitive dividing barrier between food, water and litter.
You will also need to divide your living room into ‘zones.’ Cats do not like to eliminate were they relax and play. The litter box must be in a distinct corner of the room, away from the sofa or open space.
Noise will also need to be taken into consideration. You cannot place a litter box next to the TV. Windows are also best avoided. A sudden noise from outside could spook a particularly skittish cat.
The best solution for a living room litter box is an adapted cabinet. Pick up this piece of furniture and remove the door. The litter box than then fit inside. This provides your cat with privacy, security and territory in one fell swoop.
Kitchens are best avoided for litter boxes. The reason is simple hygiene. Do you really want your cat taking care of business where you cook, and possibly eat?
Your cat will likely find the idea equally distasteful. As discussed, cats do not like to mingle the smells of food and waste. The smell of your own meals will have the same impact. A cat is likely to reject a kitchen-based litter tray.
The only way around this is to take the same approach as the living room. Remove the doors from one of your kitchen cabinets. This can become a cat’s private cubbyhole. Even then, success is not guaranteed – and the smell of cat urine may still be potent.
The bathroom seems like the perfect place for a cat’s litter tray. This can be especially helpful if you are litter training a cat. Felines often copy the actions of their owners. You may find that, when you use the bathroom, your cat follows suit.
There are numerous issues that mean bathrooms are less than ideal, though. Unless you live alone, you’ll need to close the door periodically. If you’re taking a bath or shower, this could be for a prolonged period. Your cat cannot access its litter tray during such times. This can be distressing, especially for older cats. Accidents can, and will, happen.
Bathrooms are also moisture traps, due to steam generated by hot water. Cat litter could help with that. A particular absorbent litter will act as a dehumidifier. It will also potentially clump over time, though. Consuming clumping cat litter is detrimental to feline health.
Consider a cat’s other behaviors before providing free reign of the bathroom too. Does your cat play with toilet paper, unraveling and shredding it by the roll? Does your cat drink from the toilet? These habits may need to be broken before placing a litter box in the bathroom.
If you can make it work, a bathroom is a fine spot for a litter box. Just ensure that you are aware of these restrictions. You may need to take special action to keep the room safe. At the very least, consider a covered litter box.
It may be tempting to place your cat’s litter box on a balcony, or equivalent outside area. This will give an indoor cat the chance to get some fresh air. It will prevent smells in the home. It will be suitably far from food and water bowls. What’s not to love?
In truth, there are numerous reasons why a cat’s litter box should not be placed outside. The primary concerns revolve around safety – both for you and your cat.
If your cat’s litter box is outside, you’ll need to leave a door open 24/7. This will be cold during winter. It’s also unsafe. It’s unlikely that intruders will gain access to a fifth- or sixth-floor apartment through a balcony. Unlikely is not impossible, though. Why take the risk?
Your cat’s safety is also at risk. If a cat gets onto a balcony, a new world of scents, sights, and sounds are opened up. For indoor cats, this could quickly become overwhelming. The cat may see or smell a bird to hunt. Alternatively, it may be startled by the volume of car horns.
In either situation, the cat will react. This may involve jumping onto a railing, and potentially falling. According to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, this is known as High-Rise Syndrome.
Consider the elemental impact of keeping a litter box outside. Rain and wind will wreak havoc on litter. It will clump when wet and be blown all over the balcony. Litter boxes should always be kept indoors.
It can be tough to find the right spot for a litter box in a small apartment. It is achievable, though. Just concentrate on privacy, quiet and separation from food and water. Your cat will quickly adjust. Meet these needs and keep the litter box clean, and your cat will be happy.