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LITTER BOX LOCATION

You probably prefer a quiet, private place to go to the bathroom. Well, your cat is no different. That's why it's important to put her litter box in a low-traffic location that's easy for her to reach.

Note Your Cat's Preferences

Understandably, most cats dislike eliminating near their dining area, so avoid putting your cat's litter box next to her food or water bowl. Some cats like to be able to see in all directions while they go; others prefer a sheltered area. You'll need to find a location you both can live with. Just make sure that nothing and no one can mess with her while she's using the box. Stress-free bathroom time is key!

Wherever you put the box, make sure your cat always has access. An inadvertently closed door can lead quickly to a mess somewhere you don't want it. One solution: A cat door guarantees that your feline friend can get to her special, quiet bathroom area - and keep Spot or other intruders away while she's doing her business.

If you have more than one cat, you may need more litter boxes. The best guideline as you start out is one box per cat. Some cats will share their boxes. Others insist on having their own personal box on every floor of the house. This fussiness is probably inborn, so it's wise - and kind - to concede the point.

Introduce the Box

When you bring a new kitty home, the litter box should be one of the first stops on your tour. Put her down in the box, and scratch the litter with your fingers to give her the idea.

Even young kittens generally catch on quickly. The first few times your cat uses the box, praise her and reward her with a pat or a treat.

Once your cat is comfortable with the setup, don't fiddle with it. Cats are creatures of habit, and the less you mess with them, the better they like it. Pretend that you've walled in the litter box, and any time you have a notion to move it, ask yourself whether this remodel is really necessary.

If you must relocate your cat's box, do it in stages: Buy a second litter box and put it in the new spot. Leave both boxes out for a few weeks, and pay attention to whether your cat uses the new box. (You might encourage her with praise or treats, but stay low-key about it.) Once she's accustomed to the new box, you can take away the old one.