Changing the location of the litter box
I have three cats (2 males and 1 female) who are all neutered. I have 2 litter boxes. One is down the basement and the other tucked into the corner of the kitchen. all 3 use the litter boxes without a problem. We will be redoing the kitchen (which is on the first floor) and would like to take the litter box out of the kitchen and put it in either a corner in the family room (same floor) or in one of the bathrooms upstairs on the second story of the house where the bedrooms are.
Is it possible to do this without any problems? Should we move the litter box in the kitchen a little bit everyday until it is where we want it? Will all 3 cats "get" this or will only 1 or 2 of them keep following it and the third not understand? We don't want to disrupt their good litter habits. Thanks for the suggestions.
Ahhhh, the cat litter box shuffle. My 3 cats have endured a change in litter box locations many times, including changing entire residences more than once and never missed a beat, so it doesn't have to be a problem. You just have to include them in the process, and be patient.
First, a little background on litter box placement and rules.
1. The ideal scenario with 3 cats is actually to have 4 litter boxes. The "one plus one" rule says one box for every cat, plus one additional so that there is always a free box to be had. Also, some cats just won't go in a box that was just used, even if they were the one to use it, so that extra box might do the trick in those cases.
2. In multi-story homes, the recommendation is at least one litter box on each floor.
3. You should place litter boxes in relatively quiet, easy to escape from areas. These areas should also be ones that your cat normally frequents, and not something too remote.
So what should you do?
Ok, so those are the general rules. In your case, using 2 litter boxes with 3 cats is working for you, and you want to keep it that way. Keeping in mind that any change can disrupt things, even when you do it the best way possible, you can approach this in one of several ways.
1. This is normally a technique recommended when cats have an issue with inappropriate elimination, but you could do the "inch by inch" method as you mention and slowly move that box to its new location. That might just be the least traumatic (and therefore best) approach.
2. Another way is to choose the new location, and buy a totally new box and place it where you want it. Make sure your cats see it (they'll find it eventually on their own, but it doesn't hurt to do an introduction). Usually, once one begins using it, the others will follow, although some cats have been known to have their favorite boxes. You could then, after a few days, take away the other box, or put the old box elsewhere and keep all the boxes.
3. You could just go cold turkey and move the box to its new location. Just make sure that everybody sees you do this. Often, if you do this kind of thing, you'll draw a crowd. The litter box is very important to your cats, and they'll often want to know what's going on if it's being moved. This is obviously the most traumatic. Chances are, though, somebody will want to be first to test things out, and the other two will follow in their own time.
If you choose any other method than the first one, then I would check on things from time to time over the first few days, keep everything spotless, and make sure that everyone is using the box in its new place. I don't think any of your cats will having a problem getting the idea, and they may not even look at you funny for moving it. You may find, however, that one or more of your cats isn't as fond of the new location, and prefers to use the other box more often. There's not usually much you can do about that, except try yet another location.
By the way, if the bathrooms tend to get busy and the door is frequently shut, this can be an issue since the box would be unavailable to any cat at that time. That's just something to consider.
Good luck with this and I'd be curious to know how it goes.