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tinyfaery's avatar

Do you have more than one cat and more than one litter box? If so, I have a question for you.

Asked by tinyfaery (40478points) April 30th, 2009

I have 5 cats and three litter boxes. The way my cats use these litter boxes is odd, at least to me. For a period of time the cats seem to use one box for poop, one for pee, and mix it up in the other one. Then, for seemingly no reason, they change it up. Then they poop in another box and pee in another, and then sometimes they only use two boxes, and the third box will hardly be used. It changes like this on a regular basis.

Do you notice this with your cats? Can you explain why this happens?

And a supplemental question: why do they always piss right in the corners of the litter boxes? It’s so annoying.

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14 Answers

Aethelwine's avatar

We have two cats and one litter box so I only have experience with your last question. I really hate how they piss in one corner. I hate having to scrape out what is stuck to the box when I throw it all away for a new batch of litter. I don’t know why they do this, but it sure is a pain. Cats are just peculiar.

justwannaknow's avatar

We have 5 cats and 3 boxes also but I do not notice the actions you have observed. What I have noticed is they have all seem to have picked a favorite box and mainly use it. And I am happy when they make it into the corner of the box and not back up so far they go over the side. Only two have that problem.

YARNLADY's avatar

We have two cats and two boxes. One uses one box for everything, and the other uses his own box. When I had 5 cats, they used each of the three boxes (one in each bathroom) interchangeably.

Bluefreedom's avatar

We have 5 cats and 3 litter boxes also and they vary their routine almost exactly like you mentioned in your details, tinyfaery. I don’t really know why they behave this way though.

Here’s something else too. We feed our cats in 5 individual dishes and 4 of them eat out the same four dishes each day but one of the cats does one of two things. He tries out a different dish each day or he eats a little bit out of several dishes on the same day. Weird.

Darwin's avatar

We have 7 cats and three boxes and haven’t noticed any particular pattern to box usage. One cat insists on pooping on the floor next to the box, but otherwise all boxes seem to have the same mixture of deposits.

We used to have a fourth box downstairs but then we discovered the dogs thought it was a snack cupboard so we discontinued it.

AstroChuck's avatar

We have three exclusively indoor cats and two litter boxes. They seem to pee and poop in both without discrimination. Tyra, the oldest, often uses neither and leaves us a little gift just outside the box.
She’s so sweet.

andrew's avatar

When I had two cats and two boxes, I noticed a similar thing, but not the rotation.

My amateur theory for both is that it’s a marking/dominance thing. I’ve read that it’s commonplace for the non-dominant cat NOT to bury their waste as a sign of submissiveness, so maybe something in cat-politics is causing this.

We’ll have to wait for syz to know for sure.

casheroo's avatar

Growing up, I had two cats and we always had two litter boxes. We had to get a litter box with a cover, because the male cat was very messy. But, they eventually assigned one box for pooping and one for peeing. They’d also poop outside the poop box, if the other had just gone..I guess to get back at the other cat? Who knows. haha
We have two cats currently, and one box, since we cannot fit two boxes in the apartment. They do just fine with sharing one box, surprisingly.

tinyfaery's avatar

Man am I lucky. None of my cats ever poop outside of the box. Except, of course, for the ocassional dingleberry.

casheroo's avatar

@tinyfaery One of our cats, when he gets really upset, poops wherever. The other day when checking out our new place we took our cats, he got up in the window sill and pooped in front of everyone! I think it’s his flight or fight reaction. He’s a jerk haha

MissAnthrope's avatar

We only have one cat and one box, and she’s the best ever at using it and covering everything. We use Tidy Cats Small Spaces litter and it’s the best.. the first time ever that I never smell waste, even if the box has just been pooped in. It’s great.

Just an aside, to andrew – It’s actually the dominant cat in a territory that won’t cover its feces. In the wild, burying feces is a sign of subordination; it’s a nod to the dominant cat, that they own the territory, and also a way of not causing any confrontations/disputes over this fact. A cat, for example, may wander through other cats’ territories and will bury its feces so as to not give away the fact that it passed through.

So, if your cat won’t bury its poop, it thinks it’s the boss in the house. Pooping outside the box as some people mentioned could very well be along that same vein, but it also may be the cat finds the box to be smelly or unpleasant in some way.

casheroo's avatar

@AlenaD Wow, I’d never heard that before. We got our one cat as a stray, he was 4 weeks old and we had to literally nurse him with bottles of kitty cat formula, we had him for two to three weeks before we got an outdoor stray, who was 6 weeks old (someone gave us both cats) The 6 week old had to teach the other cat how to use the litter box, it was amazing. Our first cat still doesn’t act like a cat. He had no clue how to hiss, or cover his poop/pee. He was raised by an old beagle, and he still exhibits some habits from the beagle (like growling when angry haha)

Aethelwine's avatar

@casheroo Our kittens have been raised in our house with our two dogs and I swear that our male kitten thinks he’s a dog. They will all be laying together and if I call for the dogs, the male kitten will jump up and run with them. He will also come running to the dogs food dish when I feed them. I have the hardest time getting him to eat the cat food!

MissAnthrope's avatar

So now I live in a house with two cats and two boxes. Like you, tinyfaery, the way they use them is odd and seemingly random (though I imagine they have their reasons). Even when one is clean and the other isn’t, they still have their own particular pattern. I’ll clean one and they will go out of their way to use the dirty one, though I would expect them to prefer the cleanest one available. The other night, one came up here and pooped, then five minutes later, the other one came up and pooped, and then the first one came back and it seemed like he pooped again. I was like, what is this, the poop patrol? Cats are weird creatures.

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