Cleaning the litter box is not a fun activity but one of the most important responsibilities you have when you are a cat owner. The litter box should be deep cleaned every 1 to 2 weeks. This length of time can be altered by a couple of factors, but in most cases, the litter box will need to be cleaned around once every week. When the litter box is washed, it is also the time to completely replace the used cat litter with new litter.
When filling up the litter box, you don’t want the litter to be too deep or be too shallow. If there isn’t enough litter, your cat won’t be able to properly cover their waste, and if it’s too deep, your cat may not feel comfortable using the litter box because they will feel insecure on the ground they are standing. Also, using too much litter is not good for the environment and is just a waste of your money. The perfect depth of litter is near 2 – 3 inches.
Factors That Affect How Often You Will Have To Clean The Litter Box
Figuring out how often it is necessary to clean out your cat’s litter box for your own personal situation is just a matter of taking the general rule of about once every week or so and then applying the circumstances of your own situation.
Type Of Cat Litter
Changing out the cat’s litter usually coincides with when the litter box is cleaned. If the type of litter you use gets dirtier and unusable for cats faster then you will have to clean out the litter box more frequently. The most common example of this is clumping vs non-clumping cat litter.
Clumping cat litter has to be cleaned out less frequently because your cat’s urine will clump into balls which can then be scooped. With non-clumping litter, these litters absorb urine until it becomes completely saturated at which point any extra urine will go to the bottom of your cat’s litter box. When this occurs, it is time to wash the litter box because cats are unlikely to use the bathroom if they can literally feel the wetness of their own pee on their feet. An accumulation of urine also begins to produce a lot of odors, which will further discourage them. With litter that clumps, you probably will only have to clean out the box once every two weeks while with cat litter that doesn’t clump it will be closer to once to twice a week.
Another factor is the material of the litter. For example, clay is known for being better at controlling smell while paper is not. When selecting a type of cat litter, don’t let the amount of odor control a litter has affect your buying decision too greatly. Odor control is just one aspect that you want to consider. Even though clay may be better at controlling odor, paper litter might be the right choice for some people because it is dust-free and natural.
Number Of Litter Boxes
It is simple math, if your cat has two litter boxes instead of one, the frequency at which you have to clean each box will be less. It is generally recommended to have two litter boxes for your cat anyways, so if you do decide to go down this route then you will also have to cleanse each box less often.
If you do get your cat two litter boxes, make sure to keep them separate but in areas that your cat tends to frequent throughout your house. In some circumstances, it can make sense to keep two litter boxes together. If you are curious about when you might want to keep litter boxes together, you can read more about that with this article.
Your Cat’s Preference
Cats are tidy by nature. If your cat does not like the frequency at which you’re clean their litter box, how often you get around to cleaning it should change.
Your cat will display signs if they are not happy with their current situation. This will be seen in a few different ways from your cat scratching the box, peeing outside of it, or if they eliminate less often. Cats might hold in their urge to eliminate if the litter box isn’t up to their standard of cleanliness.
When it comes to down to it, the litter box is your cat’s domain and if they don’t like your cleaning habits, then you have to change something.
How Often To Scoop The Litter Box?
Scooping a litter box for cats is the equivalent of flushing a toilet for humans. If your cat has to deal with what is essentially an unflushed toilet, that is pretty gross. Cats are clean creatures and will most likely not put up with that kind of thing.
Ten out of ten times a cat will prefer a freshly cleansed and scooped litter box over a dirty one. In a perfect world, the litter box would be scooped every time that your cat uses it. That way they never have to deal with their waste at all when they use the litter box.
That being said, in reality, cat owners should aim to get around to scooping their litter box twice a day. To scoop your litter box, have your litter disposal system close. Use a litter scoop to scoop up the dirty clumps and sift out the clean litter apart from the dirty litter. Make sure to scoop from the very bottom of the box to the top to get rid of all of the clumps of possible feces in the litter box.
If you use clumping litter then also scoop out the clumped together pee. Scoop and sift all the litter in the litter box even after it appears like you get all the large solid pieces of waste to get everything else remaining. Replace the litter you scooped out with some fresh stuff and if you want to get a better grip on odors, mix in some baking soda as well. The scoop gets dirty from scooping, so you will need to clean it as well. To learn how to do that, look at this article.
Why Is Cleaning The Litter Box Important?
Cleaning out the litter box is important for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, we have the health of your cat. A dirty litter box is a silly and inexcusable reason for risking the health of your feline. A dirty litter box can cause cats to get sick and catch diseases. It can also risk your feline holding in their pee because they have nowhere clean to relieve themselves, which then can cause blockages and other urinary problems.
This leads us to the next point which is that if your kitty has nowhere clean to go and they decide not to hold it in, then they will pee elsewhere in your home. Cleaning up accidents outside the litter box is much more time-consuming and damaging than cleaning the place your pet should actually go. An easy way to prevent any issues is by having a good litter box routine. Take it a day at a time and keep on making sure your cat enjoys their toilet setup.
Finally, having a dirty litter box is disgusting. The only real reason that causes people not to clean their box is that it can be gross and take some time, but these negatives do not come even close to the benefits of keeping your cat’s litter box clean.
How To Clean A Litter Box
To wash the box, you will want to get some supplies handy. Get your litter disposal system, mask, gloves, one-time-use cleaning utensil, liquid dish soap, and some baking soda.
First off, you will need a location to clean at. If you can, doing it outside with a garden hose is preferable but another good option is with a bathtub you rarely use or another kind of washroom in your home. Put on your mask and gloves to keep yourself clean during this process.
Scoop out any remaining waste into the trash can/disposal system. Next, dump all of the cat litter in the disposal system. The reason to keep these steps separate is that a clump of waste can easily roll out if you just simply combined the steps. But by keeping it separate, you can make sure to get all the waste and litter where they belong in the trash can.
Fill the litter box with a mixture of warm water and a little bit of dish soap and let it soak for 5 – 10 minutes. Thoroughly scrub the inside of the litter box with your one-time-use utensil until the litter box is spotless. Also, make sure to wipe down the outside of the litter box in case your kitty missed while peeing.
Once this has been complete, allow the litter box to dry out and then add in the new litter to about a depth of 3 inches. Mix a little bit of baking soda within the new litter for added odor control for your house.
Why does my cat freak out when I clean the litter box?
A possible reason your cat may freak out is that they don’t want their scent removed from what is essentially their territory.
This is also why many cats tend to use the litter box as soon as it is clean to get their territory marked again.
What happens if you don’t wash the litter box?
Not cleaning the litter box is a bad idea. It can lead to your kitty developing urinary problems, accidents outside the litter box, and it’s simply just gross. Washing the litter box will save you so much more time and grief than letting it get too dirty frequently. Here is an article that describes more reasons why not cleaning the litter box is a terrible idea.
Are self-cleaning litter boxes worth it?
Self-cleaning litter boxes sift out and scoop your cat’s litter for you. If you really hate the responsibility of scooping daily, then it can be a pretty useful tool. They can be fairly pricey, so it all just depends on your budget.
How often should I replace my cat’s litter box?
As a rule, you should aim to get a new litter box once a year.
Keeping your cat’s litter box spotless is essential so figuring out how often you have to wash the box is a must. In most cases, if you can get around to cleaning the litter box at least once a week and scooping daily, you will be golden.
Sara is a practicing veterinarian. In 2015, Sara got a degree from Saint George’s Veterinary School. She has 4 pets in total, 2 dogs, a cat, and a tortoise. Outside of caring for animals, she likes to pass time quilting and spends time with her hubby.