The first point to address is that the litter tray should be positioned to suit your cat and not the cat’s caregiver! This means that it might be better in the living room where you won’t want it but your cat might like it there. Anyway, if you live in a small apartment, it may be the only place. I think under these circumstances a covered litter tray using wood pellets is the best because this substrate is a very good odour absorber and being covered you don’t get any litter substrate being kicked out.
Some experts say that you should put a litter box on each floor of your home if you have a multi-storey home. This will avoid the necessity of your cat climbing the stairs. You decide whether that is appropriate or not.
If you have several cats then the modus operandi is to have one litter tray per cat and one extra. This is according to Jackson Galaxy.
It perhaps goes without saying that the cat litter tray should be in a private location where your cat feels safe. It should not, therefore, be at a major junction in their home range. By ‘major junction’ I mean where a cat’s paths/trails intersect. My immediate neighbour has a multi-cat home and they have 2 trays right behind the front door! How do I know? When I knocked on the door to talk to them, there they were for all to see.
To return to the multi-cat home. Don’t have one big litter tray for several cats. That’s unfair and unwise. I’ve actually seen it in a home where the homeowner should have known better. I won’t name names.
Don’t put the litter tray near their food or water as discussed in a previous post. The reasoning behind this is that as humans we wouldn’t want to eat our dinner next to the toilet particularly when the toilet is cleaned out by somebody else.
The litter tray should not be put in an isolated area where your cat has to travel to it with perhaps some difficulty. I think the idea here is to make it easy to be accessed in order to discourage any inappropriate elimination.
If your cat is elderly or perhaps very young the litter box should not be on a floor above with the only access being stairs because an elderly cat may have difficulty climbing the stairs. Once again this is to avoid any potential for inappropriate elimination.
It is said that when cats go to the toilet, they like to be able to see their surroundings and therefore the tray should not be in a dark place.
In practice, the best places for a cat litter tray are probably first in the bathroom which is I’m sure the most natural place to put it because your cat goes to the toilet where you go to the toilet. There is a nice symmetry in that. You might even go simultaneously. Bathrooms are quiet places until they are used, which is less frequently than the living room for instance. When placed in the bathroom the tray should be away from the bathroom handbasin and perhaps the shower to avoid water splashing into it. If the substrate is clumping clay, then it will clump up and become unusable.
Another good location in practice would be a designated corner in a spare room which is hardly used, which might be my favourite.
And thirdly, if there is a laundry room this would also be a good option as it is usually quiet and out of the way. It will also be warm. This affords the cat privacy and security when using it.
Also, I think a fair degree of trial and error would be a good idea to avoid guesswork. You want to know for sure that your cat is happy with the position. I don’t think you can know for sure unless you try different places and allow your cat to tell you about their favourite. How will they tell you? You will know because they will use it frequently without any trouble.
The sources for this article include the RSPCA, First Vet, Battersea dogs and Cats Home, Pet Checkers, but primarily myself, Michael.
P.S. Ceramic litter trays don’t harbour bacteria. Link to this post.
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