Whether you live in a large house in the suburbs or a place with limited space the litter box location is something all of us cat parents worry about.
On the one hand, you really want to please your kitty, and on the other hand, you’d rather keep the litter box invisible, especially when there are guests around.
So, how do you compromise?
Some of you might have a spare room, but what if you have an unconventional space you’d like to try out, like the garage?
Can you put a litter box in the garage? The garage is usually dark and can get too hot or cold depending on the season. This can affect the state of the litter, and your cat’s litter box behavior. Your cat might also hide in your car’s engine or escape through the garage door.
If you want to know if the garage is the right place to keep your cat’s litter box or how to turn it into one, then keep on reading!
What Do You Need To Know About Litter Box Placement?
Before we dive deeper into the pros and cons of keeping your cat’s litter box in the garage it’s important to also understand what a successful litter box location looks like through the lens of your cat’s eyes.
1. Avoid Dark Places
There’s this misconception that cats can see in the dark, but that’s not exactly correct.
Cats are crepuscular animals which means that they can see better in the receding daylight and darkness. This explains why they are so active at dusk and dawn.
Unless you have a window in your garage or an open light constantly glowing, complete darkness could make it difficult for a cat to navigate and reach their litter box safely.
Sure, they can rely on their sense of smell, but a badly-lit space will just add discomfort to your cat’s already vulnerable state as they’re trying to use their toilet.
2. Avoid High-Traffic Areas
Cats don’t want their litter box to be placed in an isolated area, but they also need a sense of safety when they use it.
A hall connecting different rooms is usually a place where people keep passing through, especially if you don’t leave alone. This and similar high-traffic areas can make your kitty anxious and litter box avoidant.
That being said, your cat does want to have his toilet in a space where you spend most of your time. While the garage is usually a low-traffic area and can work for some cats it can also be too isolated for others.
3. Make Sure The Area Is Safe
Just because an area or room in your house seems like the perfect spot to place your cat’s litter box it doesn’t mean your cat feels the same way.
For some cats noise can be off-putting, so placing the box next to an appliance like the dryer, wall heater or washing machine can push them to look for another spot to relieve themselves.
4. The Number Of Litter Boxes
You might think that one box is enough for your kitty, but veterinarians agree that the golden rule when it comes to litter boxes is “one litter box for each cat in the home plus one more.”
This means that if you have two cats then you need three litter boxes, and so on and so forth.
While you might get away with having one litter box with one feline companion, two cats definitely can’t share one litter box.
It’s also important to note that placing all the litter boxes next to each other is like having one giant box. Your cats won’t see the difference, and they can develop toilet problems because of the lack of privacy, possible litter box bullying, and overall and territorial aggression.
5. Don’t Keep The Litter Box Next To Food or Water
Finally, I’m sure you know that having a clean litter box is something your fluffy overlord really appreciates, but cleanliness doesn’t only mean daily scooping and replacing the litter regularly.
You need to avoid placing the litter box next to their food and water at all costs!
In the wild cats wouldn’t do their business next to water sources to avoid contamination. The same goes for food.
I mean there’s a reason we keep our toilets in the bathroom and not in the kitchen!
Is It Safe To Keep My Cat’s Litter Box In The Garage?
I know we all want what’s best for our little fluffy friends, so I’m sure the first thing on your mind is whether the garage is actually a safe place.
Perhaps that’s why you’re trying to read more about this topic and before figuring out if it’s the right place to keep your cat’s litter box.
Your Car Can Be Dangerous
If we were two friends having this conversation, my first question would be:
“Do you park your car in the garage?”
This question is crucial because if you use the garage regularly to park your cat there are many possible hazards you need to consider.
First of all, keeping the litter box in the garage means that your cat has to have 24-hour access to it. So, every time you’re returning home, your feline companion might be using their toilet.
The loud noise from the car’s engine and the door will most likely scare your kitty. This can result in an attempt to run away through the garage door, or you might run them over or hurt them in some way.
Even if you don’t hurt your kitty, or they don’t end up escaping, this can be a traumatic experience after which they might refuse to go back into the garage.
This means that they’ll most likely start soiling in other areas around your house, and they might end up associating the litter box with a scary event even after you decide to move the litter box back into the house.
Another major issue is the car engine. You might have noticed that your kitty enjoys going under covers and blankets especially during the winter. They usually do this because they want to stay warm, for the same reason your kitty might end up hiding in the car’s engine that you turned off a few minutes earlier.
My cat for example loves to sleep next to the radiator. I’ve even placed one of their cat trees next to one, so they can enjoy it during the winter. Of course, I made sure that the tree is far enough to keep them safe from overheating.
But unlike the radiator, the car engine is far more dangerous. It can cause serious burns, or they can get stuck in your engine. Another dangerous and even fatal possibility is not realizing your cat is hiding inside your car and driving off.
Hazardous Items and Materials
Another question I would ask you is:
“What do you store in your garage?”
For many people a garage is like a storeroom, where you keep the things, you’re too unmotivated to throw out. For you it may be a proper place, where you keep your tools, perhaps cut wood for your fireplace, as well as cleaning products, paints, even pesticides.
Many of us also have cabinets and multiple shelves to store these items, which are cat magnets.
All of these things can be once again dangerous. Cats are curious creatures, they hate closed doors, they tend to follow our every move, and get into trouble.
A garage/storeroom is the perfect place for trouble. They might drop a bottle full of chemicals on the floor, or a heavy object might end up falling on top of them.
I think my final question would be in regards to garage safety:
“Would you let a small child spend their time in your garage?”
If the answer is no. If your mind is suddenly flooded with mental images of things that can go wrong, then the garage is probably not a safe place to keep your cat’s litter box.
For some of you, the answer might be yes, because you don’t use the garage to park your car, or you have taken all the precautions to keep the dangerous tools, and chemicals away from your cat.
With that being said, there are positives and negatives to keeping the litter box in the garage. There are also ways to minimize these negatives and that’s what we’re about to explore next!
What Are The Benefits Of Placing Your Cat’s Litter Box In The Garage?
Safety is definitely something you shouldn’t overlook, but to get a full picture we also need to look at the upsides of having the litter box in the garage.
The Smell Management
One of the reasons most of us including myself, are so concerned about litter box location or are trying to camouflage our litter boxes, is the smell.
The garage can be a great place to manage stinky smells, not only because you don’t spend time in the garage smelling them, but because it’s a larger area that can offer more air circulation.
Part of the reason might also be the fact that we don’t expect the garage to smell good, or smell fresh and clean like our bedroom for example.
Keeping The Litter Box Away From Your Dog
While you were probably happy to find out that your kitty spends hours upon hours kneading your dog, discovering your dog eating your cat’s poop is nothing to be excited about.
For those of you facing this issue then you know that in order to keep your dog safe from the potential dangers in your cat’s poop and the litter itself, the litter box must become off-limits.
That could be achieved by investing in a dog-proof litter box like the Petmate Booda Dome Litter Box available on Amazon. The curved entrance helps keep your dog from reaching the litter and among the 16.ooo+ reviews, there are customers that confirm this box’s dog-proof feature.
Of course, even an enclosed litter box like this one can be no obstacle for a determined dog. If that’s the case for you then the garage might be the only option to give your cat the toilet privacy they need and keep the poop-thief from striking again once and for all!
It’s A Low Traffic Area
As we’ve already discussed at the very beginning our cats need some form of privacy when using the litter box.
This of course will depend on each cat. I keep my litter boxes in the bathroom and one of my cats will use the litter box no matter if you’re in the same room, or drilling the wall.
My other cat, on the other hand, won’t use the litter box unless they know the bathroom is empty.
So, if you’re used to receiving guests, or you have a large family, especially with children that run around the house, the garage could be a great low-traffic area for your shy fluffball.
I do want to point out that low traffic doesn’t mean, no traffic. Most cats, that are not overly shy, prefer to do their business in social areas. This of course doesn’t mean that a garage can’t be a social area, perhaps you use your garage on a daily basis, and maybe it’s connected to your kitchen or another central part of the house.
The Garage Might Be The Only Option
This might sound more like a necessitation, instead of a benefit or a compromise even, but the reason I wanted to keep this point in this section, is because I believe that a garage could be transformed into a good litter box area for your cat, but it will require some effort.
As I’ve mentioned above most cats won’t use the litter box if it’s isolated in some dark corner. Cats associate their litter box with their territory, if you take a moment to observe outdoor cats, you’ll notice that they will pee and poop all around the area they consider their own.
Make It Safe
What you need to do is turn the garage into an extension of your cat’s territory. You can start by not using the garage as your parking space and to be safe open the garage gate only when you are 100% percent that your cat is not in the garage.
Then it’s time to inspect the garage for any possible escape routes, leaks, and dangerous electrical cords. Once you’ve safe-proofed the garage, clean the place out. The Human Society states that cats prefer “To eliminate in a clean area. Instinctively, cats do not want to eliminate in areas that already have a strong smell.”
Make It Fun
The goal is to make the garage a safe and welcoming space, but most importantly you want it to be cat-friendly.
Make sure there’s light if the garage doesn’t have a window because as we’ve mentioned before cats don’t necessarily feel comfortable in complete darkness. You could also turn the garage into a playground, by adding cat toys, and cat trees, as well as elaborate cat stairs and shelves.
If you were planning on building a litter box enclosure in the garage that your cat will be able to enter through a hole in the wall that connects to your house, try making it much larger than you originally may have considered.
This enclosure could also have a cat tree inside or a cozy bed. During the summer you could keep the gate open so your cat or cats can stay in the enclosure to enjoy the view or do some bird watching.
Make The Garage A Social Area
Another thing I’d advise you is to change your own relationship with your garage as well. This might not be relatable to every one, since we all live in different climates with different needs and schedules. During this pandemic, I’ve started a few new hobbies, like sewing and plant keeping. If you’ve been exploring or want to explore the world of DIY then the garage could be a great space to do so.
This means that you’ll be spending time in the garage and by doing this you’ll be the one turning the garage into a social area.
Don’t Neglect The Litter Box
Finally, just because you’re keeping your cat’s litter box in the garage where no guests or even you will be spending time. You still need to keep up with regular litter box cleaning.
To quote The Human Society once again daily scooping will promote the proper litter box use.
What Are The Cons Of Keeping A Litter Box In The Garage?
We’ve already talked about the potential issues and dangers in using the garage as your cat’s toilet territory. But let’s take a look at a few more concerns in order to have a complete picture, before making a final decision.
The Weather Conditions
Our houses are built with our comfort in mind, but plenty of garages don’t meet the same standards.
They might have less, cheaper, or no insulation, and there might be no draft control whatsoever. This means that the temperature in a garage will be drastically different from the interior of your home.
Depending on where you live your garage can become a really cold place, or really hot and humid. Either way, this can make litter box usage uncomfortable for your kitty, some might be reluctant to use it altogether.
During winter the litter can turn too cold for your kitty’s sensitive paws, and they might stop covering their waste. On the other hand, during the summer the litter might remain moist for longer and the smell will be more intense.
Of course, you could invest in your garage. Like fixing or replacing the weatherstripping, making sure that the garage door doesn’t let in the cold air.
You could insulate the walls and install a unit heater, which is crucial if you want to make the garage is a cat-friendly area.
Similarly, you’ll need to deal with summer weather. For instance, an electrical fan could help with air circulation. Of course, some garages stay cooler during the summer but depending on the construction and your area this might not be true.
These changes will depend on your pocket, motivation and there’s still a possibility that your kitty will avoid the litter box during extreme weather.
As we’ve already mentioned, if you park your car in the garage then there are multiple dangers your cat might face, from an injury to escaping.
Garages are usually dirty, which means that your kitty will end up bringing all that dirt into your home and ingest it while grooming.
Even if your garage is completely safe, your cat might see it as dangerous for their own reasons. Since using the litter box means that your cat has to drop their guard and be vulnerable, they need more than one escape route.
If the litter box is in an enclosure that can only be entered through a flap door, then your kitty might feel cornered. This is more common in multicat households.
Another possible danger, which will depend on the area you reside in, are feral animals, like raccoons, as well as other outdoor or stray cats.
If there is some hidden opening, then your cat might find itself defending their territory against the local cat instead of using their litter box.
This can be really traumatizing to some cats. They might end up hurt after this encounter, like losing an eye or getting an infection from a parasite or virus.
Even if these animals can’t enter your garage, garages are usually not heavily soundproof, so your cat might end up hearing an outside animal. This can lead to territorial aggression, litter box avoidance, or soiling in more than one area.
Lastly, smaller animals like mice and rats can end up finding their way into your garage. Especially if you keep certain foods, or if your cat’s litter is made of corn or wheat, to which critters can be attracted.
If your cat finds out there are rats in the garage the smallest of your issues might be finding dead gifts around the house, or your cat contracting a disease like Toxoplasmosis that can also affect you!
As I’ve already talked about, your cat’s litter box must offer them some level of privacy, but it shouldn’t be neglected and placed in a dark corner.
I know that having a litter box right there in the living room can be too much for some, not only because of the possible smell but also for aesthetic reasons. But unless there’s some traffic in your garage it can be a very isolated spot.
For some cats, this might work out just fine, but for others, this can be a problem. You might start noticing your kitty marking other areas with their urine to mark their territory. If you had issues with litter box avoidance, then the garage is not a great choice.
Where In The Garage Should I Place The Litter Box?
If you’ve decided to keep your kitty’s litter box in the garage, you still need to decide where exactly in the garage it should be placed.
As I was roaming the internet, I’ve found a few forums talking about litter box enclosures. Instead of leaving the whole garage open for your cat to explore, you could build an exterior addition attached to the wall that leads into your home.
This can be done by creating an opening in the wall and placing a cat door so your kitty can have full-time access. These kinds of enclosures are usually made of wire so they look like a cage, and the roof is on hinges, so you can prop it open and scoop.
If you’re crafty you could construct one yourself or find a portable outdoor enclosure that can serve the same purpose.
Another thing to keep in mind is noises. Cats need to feel safe when they’re using the litter box, so place the litter box or the enclosure away from appliances, or the garage door. This way the noise won’t startle them.
While keeping the litter box or litter boxes of your cats in the garage might be the perfect solution, your cat needs to have more than one litter box and they can’t all be placed in the same place.
I think that a garage can’t be a great place for your cat’s second or third litter box. This means that you still have to keep one or two of their litter boxes around the house.
This can help your kitty see the garage as an extension of their territory and still feel like they’re the masters of the main house.
If you don’t believe me listen to the cat whisperer himself, Jackson Galaxy, explain to you the rules of litter box ethics!
Consider Other Options Before Placing The Litter Box In The Garage
I completely understand that for some of you the garage might be the only option, either because of limited space, or even dust sensitivity that can be present in most litters. In this case, we’ve already discussed the steps you need to take to make this decision a success in your cat’s eyes.
But if you have the opportunity to choose other areas of your house then I truly hope you consider them before the garage.
Usually, spare rooms and laundry rooms are great for keeping your kitty happy and making the litter box less of an eyesore. If you use these rooms for your washer and dryer you want to consider how the noise might affect your kitty, especially if they’re shy.
Years ago, before I moved into my current house, I kept my cats’ litter boxes spread out in a spare room I didn’t use for anything else, so there were no noises or human presence that would disturb their toilet business. But it was still in the central area of the house, so they also didn’t feel isolated.
Here we’ve already talked about the pros and cons of keeping the litter box in the kitchen. This choice has potential health risks because of contamination.
But if you have a kitchen corner that you might be considering, and your kitty doesn’t jump on counters then it could work better than your garage, since it’s a social area.
Another place that diffidently is my number one choice, since I no longer have room to spare, is the bathroom. This is another topic we’ve covered and found that when it comes to litter box placement the bathroom has the most benefits for you and your cat.
It’s a central location, but it still offers privacy, and the smells are more manageable even if humidity can be an issue sometimes. I like keeping the boxes in the bathroom because it helps me remember to scoop the litter daily, and I don’t mind keeping the door open most of the time.
If you have a spare bathroom that you rarely use this could be the perfect spot for you, and if that spare bathroom has a bathtub that you never use, then you’ve got yourself the perfect “invisible” spot. First of all, no one will know, and second of all, there will be minimal litter trailing, though it probably won’t work for cats that have mobility issues.
If you have a basement that you want to convert into your cat’s toilet, you might face similar issues that you’d face with the garage.
Basements can be cold, dark, and isolated, but by making this area cat-entertaining it could work better than the garage.
Litter boxes can be stinky and they don’t really scream aesthetics either, so for many cat parents, the best way to deal with them is to tuck them away into a dark corner of the garage.
Of course, as we’ve discusses your garage doesn’t have to be dark, or cold. It can be fun, safe and it could even be your personal hobby space!
What I want you to take away from all this information, is that if we love our kitties, we also need to accept that they come with a litter box. Discarding their toilet will only bring stinkier problems back to the surface, so choose their litter box location wisely and most importantly with love!
Now tell us, do you keep your cat’s litter box in the garage and how did you make it work for your kitty?