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Some cats are forgiving of changes around the house, including relocating their litter box. Other cats react wildly to a sudden cat box relocation. They may skip using the box entirely and go to the bathroom in places they never had before, including on the bed, couch, or laundry, even if it makes no sense to the human tasked with cleaning up after them. Other cats are less extreme in their reactions, but will actually continue to go to the bathroom where the litter box had been even though it’s clearly not there anymore.
I have moved litter boxes for all three kinds of cats and there is a method that I’ve learned that has worked for the latter kinds anytime that I’ve wanted to relocate their litter box. If I know that this is going to cause an enormous disruption for them, I resort to this lengthy but doable solution.
I start by moving the box a few inches in the direction of where it will end up, even if it’s going completely across the house or down a flight of stairs. After a few days, I will move the box a couple more inches.
You can see where this is going. After moving the box several inches every few days, if I’m confident that I won’t undo all my work, I’ll move it a couple of feet. After a few more days, I’ll move it again.
I’m mindful of large changes such as from a room into the hallway, and I may strategize so that crossing the threshold is only a move of a few inches. I also try to be mindful of the location where the box is going to be located for the next few days during the progressive move so that it doesn’t end up somewhere that may turn the cat off them using the box indefinitely, such as an area where the dog may harass them, or a high traffic area. This may take some planning, and in some cases, larger jumps are necessary, though I try not to move the box more than a few feet at a time.
With each move, I make sure that the cat knows where the new box is, though it should be obvious they should be able to see it from the position of where it was last time.
This method has worked for cats that freak out to enormous proportions with a litter box change, and it has worked for ones who simply do not seem to get the message that if the box isn’t there, they should stop using that corner.
This does mean that during the weeks of slowly relocating the box, you may wind up with a litter box in a strange position, such as on the landing of the stairs, or in the middle of a room.
If I find that I have overestimated a move and the cat isn’t ready for that leap, I simply scoot the box back to the last acceptable location, wait a longer period of time such as a full week, and then start again by moving it a shorter distance.
For many cats, this process is not necessary. But if you share your home with a cat who does not take well to litter box moves, then this method may make the process easier on both of you.
Do you have any tricks for moving a litter box for a difficult cat? Let us know in the comments!