Cat litter boxes should be aligned north to south. You’ll need a compass. A cat will feel more comfortable if she can make a poop or pee while facing the North or South Pole.
That is the deduction I make based on recent research carried out with dogs. But I am being flippant about the results of careful research which is interesting and important and which confirms the ability of the dog amongst several mammalian species to sense or detect the Earth’s magnetic field.
People believe that certain animals navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field when travelling long distances. A migrating bird is the best example. Cats that are lost and find their way home over long distances are another example. There are many of these cases.
The general consensus amongst the cat experts is that cats navigate by sensing the Earth’s magnetic field. They are able to feel where north, south, east and west are. The cat can probably then compare it to the direction they took in getting to where they are. The magnetic field would be a reference point allowing them to retrace their steps and get home. I am speculating but it makes good sense.
Although the research that I refer to was conducted with dogs there is good reason to believe that the same or similar conclusions would have been made with cats or some other mammals.
In the research, 70 dogs where observed defecating and urinating. The direction of the body was noted. Variables, such as the position of the sun, were taken into account and eliminated. There were 1,893 observations of defecation and 5,582 observations of urination.
The researchers were unable to come to a conclusion as to whether a dog consciously detected the magnetic field or whether it was sensed as a feeling, thereby making the dog feel more comfortable when aligned north to south. Dogs actively avoided east-west alignment when pooping and peeing.
If magnetic-field-sensing-animals feel more comfortable aligned N-S when doing certain things, it begs the question whether this knowledge should be used to improve cat caretaking. It is too early to decide that. However, I am thinking, for example of sleeping quarters. Does your cat always sleep in a certain direction? Perhaps you can’t tell because she is curled up but is she curled up in the same way each time? This a story that may throw up some new articles in the future.
One last point: can humans sense the Earth’s magnetic field? I don’t know but I believe some people can or are more able to tap into that skill. Some people are able to “get their bearings” better than others. Some drivers don’t get lost while others do. Is this something to do with sensing the Earth’s magnetic field?
Here is the summary of the research I have referred to: