6 cats, one doesn't use the litter box

by Ashley
(Florence, SC, USA)

I have 6 cats and two litter boxes. When we used Fresh Step litter, two of my oldest cats would poop in the living room and kitchen.

Then we changed to Feline Pine pellets because I hated the dust from clay cat litter.

Now, one of my oldest cats pees in the kitchen too.

It seeps through my individual tile on the floor and gets trapped and the urine smell lingers even after I clean the surface really well.

I did find a somewhat solution to clean the smell up with baking soda and water but she just pees there again.

I really don't have much room to put any more litter boxes and have thought of putting her in a cat carrier wen I'm not home but what if she needs to go to the bathroom while in there?

Also, I've noticed sometimes when she does go to try the litter box one of my boy cats will bother her so I'm thinking that may be one of the problems too.

My Thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that your cat is having problems, Ashley. I'm assuming that her problem is not caused by a medical issue. Here are some ideas...


If she is being ambushed or attacked when at the litter box, that's certainly a possible cause of the problem. That's one of the reasons it's important to have more litter boxes spread around the house.

Lack of space

If you have 6 cats, but not enough room for more than two litter boxes, I wonder how much room you have for cat trees or other furniture items? In a multi-cat household, time sharing of space is important.

Vertical space is even more important as most cats like to be up high. In addition, each cat often takes its turn as "top cat" throughout the day.

Unless you're making really good use of vertical space, or you have a large amount of square footage, it might be difficult for 6 cats to live in the same house stress free.

You'll need either multiple cat trees or shelving designed for cats to climb, along with perches. If you can, make sure everybody has a window seat.

Groups and sharing

In most multi-cat households, cats often group together, sometimes in pairs. So, for example, 2 of the cats may form a coalition, often sleeping and eating together and grooming each other. These cats will tolerate or even want to share food bowls, water bowls, beds and often, litter boxes as well.

There may by 3 sets of 2 cats, or 2 sets of 3, or other combinations in a house with 6 cats total. You need to adequately provide resources for each group, or you may end up with problems.

Here's a video that explains it very well...

Watch on YouTube: How to destress your cat's life

If your "problem" cat is a loner, she may need an entire set of resources, including a litter box, all to herself.

Box setup

I've mentioned this many times, but some cats develop a habit of wanting to use one box to pee in, and one box to poop in. Or, they simply won't use anything but a clean box.

With only 2 boxes and 6 cats, I imagine it's close to impossible to create a situation where there is always a clean box available at just the right time. Throw in some ambushes and you've got a problem.

If the problem is related to requiring a clean box at just the right time, one way to address that is to get automatic litter boxes that clean themselves after each
use. That may help, but there are no guarantees.

Residual odor

If the urine odor is still there, under the tile, it's likely going to draw her back to the spot. Not being there, it's hard for me to say exactly what to do. Normally, I'd recommend an enzyme based cleaner, but Jackson Galaxy recommends a CO2 based cleaner (Fizzion).

Distilled white vinegar can help if applied directly to the urine, but is most effective soon after an incident.

Perhaps it would be worth a shot, though to use a vinegar and water solution on the tile and see if you can get enough of it to seek out the urine underneath.

Or, soaking the floor with lots of CO2 based cleaner may be an option.

Disclaimer: I don't know enough about your floor to say if these things will work, or if they'll be harmful to the floor's surface or the integrity of the tile. You may want to consult with a flooring specialist before trying anything.

Litter type

I'm not usually a big fan of switching litter types when one or more cats is having a box problem, unless the litter type is determined to be at fault. Since you've gone from a pooping problem with 2 cats, to a peeing problem with one, it's hard to say what impact the switching of litter types has had on the peeing problem.

I'm also not normally a big fan of pellet type litters. Some cats don't like them and don't even like to walk on the rough surface that they create.

Furniture and litter box space

If she were my cat, I'd work on the ambush situation by first by providing more litter boxes and other resources. Even if I had to give up some furniture or rearrange the house a bit, I'd find a way to work another litter box into the home.

As mentioned in the video above, you're supposed to have 7 boxes based on the one-plus-one rule, or as many as there are groups or coalitions in the house.

Anything else is a potential stress creator.

Using a crate

I would not want to crate an adult cat all day in a small carrier as this may create more stress than it's worth.

What I might do, however, is confine her to a room for isolation retraining. If that didn't work, I'd possibly get a large dog crate with a water bowl and enough room for a litter box inside.

If you do this, I think I'd start it on a day where you have at least 2 days off of work in a row so that you can watch her and check on her progress. Also, if the presence of your other cat stresses her, being caged may not help that, so she may need to be in a room by herself too.

Removing stress

Since stress may be the overriding factor here, there are some more things you can do to relieve it.

In addition to providing appropriate resources, you can increase her play time and exercise level. Feliway and/or Rescue Remedy may help, as well as Cat Attract for the litter.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how it works out.

P.S. Placing a litter box right on the spot she's using may be telling. If she uses it, then you've uncovered that she has developed a location preference.

Also, while you work on getting rid of the residual odor, you might try placing a large plastic runner on top of the spot as well. If she goes on the spot, at least she'll go on the plastic.

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Oct 14, 2012
Litter Boxes
by: terri

I'm a Siamese breeder in Michigan (Siamese Resort) and I have 7 adults and kittens year around.

I've tried the pellets my adults hate it and so do the kittens. If you want to see what your cats think, put another box out with scoopable and see which one gets used most.

I don't like the dust either but you can get the boxes with lids or a less dusty litter and it doesn't have to be the most expensive one ~ yes you need more boxes - they like them clean.

I have 6 boxes and when I have kittens I have smaller ones for them and they all get used! I clean my litter boxes every day and I have a bucket full and when people come to pick up their kittens they tell me they wouldn't even know I have cats (no smell).

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