There are a lot of perks to having a cat. Like any other pet, a feline sidekick can serve as a source of unconditional companionship and plenty of laughs. When a cat’s in the mood, they’ll be your best friend and the ultimate snuggler. They’ll keep the weird bugs in your apartment at bay. Occasionally, they’ll roll around on their back in a super dramatic way while you’re trying to throw a party and your friends will think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. The downside of cat ownership is pretty clear, and it’s the litter box. But how often should you change your cat’s litter box? The answer will be seriously useful in helping you weigh the pros and cons of having a cat… and in keeping your home (and all the living creatures in it!) clean and healthy.
According to The Humane Society of the United States, the general rule of thumb for optimal litter box hygiene is that you clean it about twice per week. Like most general rules of thumb, though, there’s room for variation here. Your particular needs might differ based on how many cats you have, how many litter boxes you have (if you have multiple cats), and what kind of litter you use in them.
Start off with a twice-weekly schedule, but pay close attention to the state of your cat’s bathroom spot for signs that adjustments might be necessary. The bottom line, per The Humane Society, is that a litter box that’s especially smelly needs to be changed, no matter how recently you’ve cleaned it. If the litter is more wet or clumpy than usual, it’s also time for a change. If you have multiple cats using a single box, you’ll probably find that you’re better off refreshing the litter more frequently than twice per week. After all, a little extra cleanliness can’t hurt. You might as well err on the side of hygiene, no?
Some sources actually suggest what seems like near-constant hygiene. Dr. Stephanie Janeczko D.V.M., medical director for animal care and control of New York City, wrote in Petfinder that litter boxes should be scooped at least once or twice daily. Ideally, she said, you should try to clean up after your pet as soon as they’ve done their business. But let’s be real — very few of us actually have the time for that.
If you like the idea of sticking to Dr. Janeczko’s advice but aren’t excited about the idea of monitoring your cat’s every trip to the bathroom, you might consider checking out a self-cleaning litter box. These gadgets use a sensor to initiate an automated cleaning process, and while some cats might find them a little scary, they definitely have the potential to make your life a lot easier… and your home a lot cleaner.
If you’re skeptical of going the self-cleaning route — or you’re worried that your cat will be skeptical of it — there are other ways to stay ahead of the litter box mess to make the cleaning process easier on you. Animal Planet suggests putting a thin layer of baking soda in the box before the litter. This will help absorb icky odors. The Humane Society notes that box liners can make cleaning more convenient, but that some cats actually claw at them, which will have the reverse effect when you try to pick up the box’s contents. Resist the urge to put more than two inches of litter in your cat’s box. Felines don’t actually need more than that, and the more litter you have, the more you’ll have to clean… and buy. And who wants that
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How often should you change a litter box?
Mittens is not happy with you. In fact, she’s downright mad, and you don’t even know it. Your Maine Coon cat refuses to use her litter box, and for the life of you, you can’t figure out why she is turning your favorite African violet into her new potty.
The way you see it, she’s got a perfectly good, bright green litter box in your guest bathroom courtesy of the new upscale pet boutique. The way she sees it, the “boutique” box might be pretty on the outside, but it smells like the bathroom at Grand Central Station during rush hour. Clearly you two are not on the same page.
There’s one way to keep yourself in your kitty’s good graces: Clean Mittens’ litter box — regularly. Cats like clean litter boxes, just as you like a clean toilet. It’s that simple. You won’t be able to get Mittens (or any cat for that matter) to use her box if it doesn’t measure up on her cleanliness meter. She still will relieve herself, but she’ll find alternative places — and trust us when we say that’ll be all over your house — to do her business.
Sometimes pet owners blame the cat for not using the box. They complain to their veterinarian about their cat’s “bad behavior.” They accuse their kitty of being persnickety, snobbish and downright uppity. Quite honestly, one of the main reasons a cat refuses to use his litter box is because it smells bad — cats have very sensitive noses. So, to prevent World War III from breaking out in your home, our advice is to clean your cat’s litter box on a regular basis.
Litter serves an important purpose in the cat lover’s household. It’s the absorbent material that cat owners pour inside their beloved’s litter box to soak up urine and hide feces. So how often should a litter box be cleaned? You need to scoop the feces out of your kitty’s litter box every single day and replace the litter once a week.
Changing a cat’s litter is a three-step process, according to “The Cat Fanciers’ Association Complete Cat Book”: Dump the dirty litter out of the box and put it in sealed plastic bags; scrub the box with mild, unscented liquid soap and a solution of a little bit of bleach and water (not too much bleach, though) and then put fresh litter in the clean, dry box. Filling the box to the brim with litter isn’t necessary. The Animal Humane Society of the United States says many cats won’t use a litter box with more than 2 inches of litter in it.
Colleen Wallace, D.V.M. and associate veterinarian at the Cozy Cat Veterinary Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., says there’s a simple equation for all cat owners to follow: Take the number of cats in your home and divide it by the number of boxes in your house, and that will give you the number of times a day you should scoop. For example, if you have two cats, and two boxes, that means you need to scoop each box once a day no matter what type of litter you use.
It takes two
If you decide to bring a second cat into your home to keep Mittens company, that cat will need his own litter box. Sometimes the first cat won’t allow the second one to share his place of elimination. The way to avoid this problem is to have two litter boxes — one for each cat. The Animal Humane Society even advises getting one box for each cat plus one more so if you stay late at work, the cats still have a fresh place to go. Pet owners should keep the boxes in separate locations so one of the cats won’t ever prevent the others from using them. That will make everyone happy, including the African violet.
Did you know?
If you put down a thin layer of baking soda before you put the litter in your cat’s litter box, it will help absorb the stink and make the box smell more pleasant to both of you.
LITTER BOX CLEANING: HOW OFTEN AND ARE YOU DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY?
For over 10 years I’ve worked in rescue. So, over the years, a lot of feline friends have came in and out of my life. I don’t think “litter box cleaning” is necessarily a career. But, after all the litter box cleaning I’ve done, I think I’d qualify for a management position. That is, if it was a career.
- Recommended by veterinarians
- Has a non-stick coating
- Made of durable ABS plastic
- Includes a 12 month warranty.
- The non-stick coating provides up to 70% less sticking.
- The spacious curves and design make the litter box inviting.
- Has an easy grip lip. Which makes it perfect for any age.
- All materials have been tested using international safety standards.
- It comes in a jumbo size. So, it covers quite a bit of area.
- The mat has raised bumps on the outer channel. Allowing it to catch litter easily.
- Unlike most mats, the SmartGrip is made out of soft material. This allows cats to relax their paws. Plus, it prevents jumping as well.
- Made of FDA grade silicone.
- It’s non-toxic.
- The design allows this scoop to sit flush. So, it scoops under the litter.
- It’s coating is non-stick
- Ensures superior hygiene
- Design provides faster sifting. Allowing you to get the job done faster.
- How many cats you have in your home.
- How many litter boxes you have in your home.
- The type of litter you use.
- Litter scoop
- Trash bag(s)
- Dish detergent
- Water hose
- Face mask
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable sponge