Should Cat Food Be Near The Litter Box? Myths Vs Facts

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 05/25/23 •  8 min read
Cat food

Have you ever wondered how far away should food be from the cat’s litter box?

It’s a tricky question that most cat owners have asked themselves.

In most cases, food and cat litter boxes shouldn’t be in the same area. However, that brings up the question of how far does your food needs to be from your litter box for both you and your cat’s sake?

A cat litter box is a place where the cat should feel safe and secure with a full range of motion which is not easy if it’s placed in another room. Most owners have little space in their homes, though, so some level of compromise has to be made.

The next problem is finding the right place for it—where should the litter box be?

Is it OK to put cat food near the litter box?

It is not OK to put cat food near the litter box. Cats do not want their food and water bowls placed near the litter box.

Would you want your dining area to be inside the bathroom?

Ensure that you separate the food and water bowls from the litter box.

How far away should my cat’s food be from the litter box?

My vet says it’s important to have the food as far away from the litter box as possible because cats don’t like to eat where they poop.

The general rule of thumb is to place the food bowl as far away from the litter box as you can.

Place at least two water dishes each in a different part of the house and remember to clean the bowls daily.

How close can cat food be to the litter box?

Cat food should be kept at least ten feet away from the litter box.

Cats are very clean animals, which is why they don’t like to eat or drink near where they eliminate. You should keep your cat food away from their litter box and even consider placing it in another room.

Can you put food and water near the litter box?

No, you cannot put food and water near the litter box. If you do, your cat will avoid using the litter box and eliminate it elsewhere.

This is the quickest way to develop a litter box avoidance for your cat as she opts to poop and pee on your carpet.

I can hear your footsteps running to the food and water bowls to see how just close they are to the litter box. Aggrrhh! There it is, lying side by side are your cat’s food dish and her litter box.

This is simply terrible.

Why you may ask?

Cats have evolved from living in the world to being domesticated animals. However, their natural survival instincts are still alive.

If your cat is an outdoor kitty, she will defecate far and away from her feeding area. This is to avoid attracting and leading predators back to her dwelling.

When handling your indoor cat, if you have the feeding bowls and the litter box next to each other, your cat will choose to eat the food and eliminate it in a separate place away from the litter box.

Do we need to guess that the place she will choose to pee and poop won’t be one that you will love?

Do cats poop near their food?

Cats do not commonly poop near their food. This is due to their instinct to eliminate away from their feeding area as a survival instinct to keep away predators.

However, if your cat is pooping near their food, this is a serious cause of concern.

It is most likely due to a medical issue. Your cat may have a bowel obstruction or other problems that need immediate veterinary attention.

Cat Food Placement Areas:

Ensure that the cat’s food dish is in places that are not:

Where to put cat food and water bowls

Ensure that the locations you choose to place the feeding bowls are safe and quiet so that your cat can enjoy a nice warm dinner.

Do not keep on changing the location of the feeding spots once your cat is happy with the spot.

Cats are creatures of habit and changing the location will disorient her.

For elderly cats, if you change the locations, you will have to retrain her.

Lower the food bowl so that she can easily access them without leaping up and down to access her meals.

Where should you keep a litter box?

  1. Choose quiet areas:

Avoid placing the kitty litter tray in a place that has a lot of activities. Cats do not like to litter in a busy place or on a well-traversed route. The tray should not be obstructive to people in your house. Ideal locations are the ones far from the feeding stations, have unobstructed views, and where the cat cannot be cornered.

2. Place little boxes in different rooms:

Most cats will require more than one litter box. When it comes to cats, the rule of thumb is one for the household and one for each cat. If you have four cats, then you will need to have five litter trays.

All the trays should not be in the same room. If one tray does not feel safe, then a cat will use a different one because of the multiple choices.

Whether you live in a big or a small house, you should avoid placing the litter box in your sleeping area.

The danger of a litter box in the bedroom is that it may cause problems, including stepping on the cats’ feces and litter.

Additionally, having the litter in the same room as you sleep means you will be breathing in the dusty litter and potential pathogens.

Moreover, the bacteria and dust from the litter box can pose problems to you and your family.

It comes as no surprise that your cat will be fussy, and with time the litter box will become full and smelly. If this happens, your cat will not use the tray, and it will go somewhere else.

3. Position the litter box in a way that your cat has an easy escape route in case of danger from a bully cat. This is common in a multi-cat household.

4. If you also have a dog, ensure that you invest in a dog-proof litter box to prevent your dog from snacking on the cat poop.

You can also place a baby gate across the doorway to the room that houses the cat’s litter box. Your cat should easily leap over it to get to the kitty tray.

A gate with vertical bars is ideal and ensures it is about six inches above the floor. This will offer more resistance to your dog than one with horizontal bars.

Where to put a cat litter box in a small apartment?

If you live in a small apartment, the best place to keep your litter box is the bathroom.

Why? Because if you have a small apartment or a house where every inch of space matters.

You may not have a quiet corner of the house or spare bedroom to place the cat box or idle space to utilize.

This makes the bathroom your best bet. You can place the litter box next to the toilet.

Ensure the door remains open throughout or create a cat door to give your kitty access into the bathroom.


According to people that have never considered the topic before, a few feet can be enough, while others argue that it’s better when the litter box is in another room and isn’t near food at all.

The matter concludes that food and litter should never be in the same area. Never!

When you have your cat’s food in one area of the house, the litterbox can go anywhere.

Cats are very clean animals and will use a litter box anywhere in the house if it is kept clean.

Just use sensible judgment and think like your cat. Where would YOU want to eat your food? In the toilet?

Davis Wilkins

Davis Wilkins is a dedicated cat lover, with three cats under his care. He grew up in a cat-loving family, nurturing these feline friends. As a result, he purposed to share his cat knowledge with the universe. Wilkins has been writing professionally for over four years, specializing in feline care with a keen interest in litter box care and handling. He hopes to help other feline lovers achieve their pet care goals.

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