The number of cat litter boxes available for your kitties is another key to good litter box habits. Many cats are fussy about their litter boxes, and if they aren't happy with number you provide, they communicate their unhappiness to you in most direct manner possible - they stop using the litter box.
Here is some essential information for determining the minimum number of cat litter boxes you need for your cats.
First off, there is a tried and true formula that tells you the bare minimum number of cat litter boxes you should have available:
"X" cats + 1 = minimum number of cat litter boxes.
If you have three cats you need a minimum (I can't stress this enough) of four cat litter boxes. However, depending upon your cat's litter box habits, you may need more. Why?
Some cats require two litter boxes for their personal use. They use one for liquid waste deposit, and the other one for their solid waste output. If you have just two cats, and one of them fits this description, you're already up to four cat litter boxes!
With this formula, even one cat requires at least two cat litter boxes. If you have a dwelling that is multi-story, you may need to strategically locate litter boxes on each level of your home. This works well to eliminate any problems your cat may have about making it to the litter box in time. Particularly as cats get older, they develop stiff joints and/or memory problems. You will see this illustrated in their ability to get to the cat litter box in time, provided they remember where the nearest one is located.
If you have several cats in your household, applying this formula can be challenging if you run out of litter box locations that suit you. What if your cats don't like the litter box locations you chosen? They tell you - they do their waste elimination business in the location they'd prefer to see a cat litter box.
It may take some creativity on your part, as well as negotiation with the cats, to place the minimum number of cat litter boxes around your house that will reinforce good cat litter habits.
When I am contacted by cat owners who have 4 or more cats, and they want to know how boxes they need to have available, they sometimes gasp at my answer. But cleaning up after multiple cats can become a full time job. You really have to scoop out the boxes as often as the cats deposit their mess, because a dirty cat litter box will cause problems.
For this reason, I always urge feline owners who live in rather small spaces to think seriously about the number of cats they wish to keep, especially if they decide to keep all kitties indoors. I agree that all cats should be kept indoors, except under special circumstances. However, space considerations are finite and can only accomodate so many cats and their litter boxes.
The majority of questions I receive from stressed-out cat owners involve multi-animal households. Often, the owner simply doesn't realize that each cat needs at least one litter box to call her own. When they realize the number of cat litter boxes necessary, they often have to be very creative to place the litter boxes in strategic locations.
However, once you set up enough cat litter boxes, depending upon your cat's litter box habits, successful litter box habits can be learned and enforced.