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How To Look After A Litter Box To Function At Its Best

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Being hit with ‘parfum de la litter’ when you open the front door of your home, is not a good thing. Keeping a litter box in tip top shape is about doing small things often, to keep the box clean. It is then easy to maintain the level of cleanliness.

This article explains how to look after a litter box properly.

In addition to good hygiene for your cat, having a clean litter box will prevent odors in your home and also encourage the cat to actually use the box.

How Big Should The Litter Box Be?

When it comes to choosing a litter box for your cat, size matters. A litter box that is too small will be uncomfortable for your cat and may even lead to accidents outside the box. On the other hand, a litter box that is too large may be difficult for your cat to dig in and may also result in more messes being made.

The size of the litter box does impact on how easy it is to keep the box and the surrounding area clean. The correct size will mean that less litter will be scattered outside the box.

So what is the ideal size for a cat litter box?

Ideally the size of the litter box should be approximately one and a half times longer than your cat. That measurement is taken from the nose to the base of the tail. It is an approximate measurement and a useful guide when purchasing a new litter box.

That may seem like a long measurement but if you have the space definitely consider this when purchasing.

This will give them plenty of room to move around and do their business without feeling cramped.

Bear in mind also that if you have a kitten now, you may need to get a bigger box as kitty grows.

looking after a litter box
We are all different sizes from little bitty kitty to big big kitty. Is the litter box the right size? Got the tape measure handy?

How Often Should The Litter Box Be Scooped?

Keep the cat litter box box clean by scooping at least once a day. This is why you should scoop daily. It’s much less work for you in the long run. When you don’t scoop daily, the urine and faeces build up in the litter and start to smell.

This can attract bugs, not ideal. In addition, not scooping means you’ll have to change the litter more often, which is a waste of money.

Scooping once a day keeps the litter box clean and helps your home smell fresh. It’s also better for your cat’s health, as they can develop infections from living in dirty conditions. So make sure to scoop daily – the benefits are worth it!

Some people scoop the litter box more often than once a day. This may be necessary if more than one cat is using the box or if you have multiple cats and boxes.

The weather also plays a part here, on hot humid days the smell may be more acute. You will be reminded by the odor that you that you need to scoop.

Scoop the clumped faeces and urine once a day and then dispose of the matter, preferably using a biodegradable cat litter bag. More about cat litter bags here. Use a good quality scoop. You want to make this job as easy as possible so you need the best equipment.

scooping a litter box
Scoop the solids regularly and it will be a quick job. Use the best scoop for the type of litter used.

Once cats stop using the litter box it can be very difficult to coax them back to the box. This is a very good reason to keep the box clean.

Can Cat Litter Be Flushed Down The Toilet?

This can be a somewhat controversial topic. There are some litters that are marketed as flushable. Be cautious! Clay litters are definitely not suitable for flushing as they contain bentonite clay which will go rock hard in water, so definitely not good for the plumbing system.

Don’t leave the litter box in the shower stall while you are at work. Although some apartment owners do this, it is ultimately also not a good idea. . Many a plumber has picked up extra work from unblocking drains clogged with litter debris.

It should be noted that even products marketed as flushable can clog the plumbing, if more than 1 or 2 clumps are flushed at a time. It is just better not to flush litter.

If there was a fail-safe method it would be excellent but for now using cat litter bags and then disposing of them in an outside garbage bin is the best option. This will then go to landfill which is designed to safely handle these products.

Dirty diapers fall into the same category. Also, check the regulations where you live. The State of California does not allow cat litter to be flushed.

Can I Compost Cat Waste?

Cat waste cannot be composted safely and this applies to all pet waste. Home composting systems rarely reach temperatures high enough needed to get rid of dangerous pathogens.

It is not worth risking the health of others by adding cat feces to the compost pile.

The bacteria can live on in the soil for a number of years even if the waste appeared composted before using in the garden.

Composting experts may have another view on composting pet waste and may well be able to do it safely. For safety sake, for the non experts, we stick to saying no to composting cat waste unless some new systems come onto the market.

Love composting but not cat litter

What Is The Danger In Cleaning The Cat Litter Box To Pregnant Women?

There is a small risk of exposure to Toxoplasmosis from the cat litter.

This article explains the precautions to take if you are pregnant and have a cat.

It is mainly common-sense but there’s some good points to note. Avoid cleaning the litter box whilst pregnant.

How To Dispose Of Cat Litter?

Cat Litter Bags

Some cat litter bags are biodegradable and do break down over time. Check the information from the manufacturer as this will vary from product to product.

Boxiecat Scoop & Tie Litter Bags – Cat Litter Clump & Poop Bags – Leakproof - Large to Fit Any Scoop – Handles to Conveniently Tie Seal in Odors - Unscented

The bags are usually in boxes which look similar to a box of tissues which makes it very easy to pick up a bag before scooping the litter. Cat litter bags come in a variety of sizes. You may just have a scoop or two and need a small bag or if you are emptying the litter a larger bag is required.

Cat Litter Box Liners

Cat litter box liners are different to cat litter box bags. It’s a bit of a fine distinction. Cat litter box liners actually line the litter box. It’s a time saving clean up strategy.

You may be using cat litter liners in the litter box. They are useful when it is time to dispose of all the cat litter and start afresh.

If you are not using cat litter liners in the litter box, pour the soiled litter into a cat litter bag, tie at the top and dispose of in the trash.

Some litter is very heavy and two plastic bags may be needed. I hesitate to write the word plastic these days. Plastic is a dirty word! Biodegradable bags are the best choice if you have that option.

Should I Use A Litter Box Liner?

Liners make it easy to dispose of the litter when the box is being washed. Some liners have elastic at the top to keep the litter bag in place. Sometimes kitty scratching about in the litter can pull the bag back into the box.

If there is not enough litter in the box and the cat is scratching at plastic – this is not good.

Cat feces can get stuck to the plastic and make scooping difficult. If you do use a liner and many people do just make sure the litter is topped up to avoid the cat scratching the plastic problem.

In fact, after scooping it will almost always be necessary to top up the litter.

Do I Need A Cat Litter Scoop?

Yes, you will definitely need a cat litter scoop to scoop the litter box. They all do the same job however the design features and sizes vary. Cat litter scoops are usually plastic or stainless steel.

Stainless steel will be longer lasting but may cost more initially, so the choice of materials may affect the cost of the scoop.

This article reviews different types of cat litter scoops including cat litter scoops with short handles and long handles. A long handled litter scoop will be useful for people with mobility problems. The litter box can still be scooped without having to bend to over to reach the box.

Buy a decent scoop. You don’t want to be having to buy new ones all the time.

You may try several before you find one that works for your purposes.

They are relatively inexpensive items so don’t put up with one that isn’t doing the job properly.

Kitty Litter is going everywhere
This box is too small for me! Don’t forget to measure me when buying a new box.

What Do You Use To Clean The Litter Box?

Use an unscented soap product to clean the cat litter box. If the soap/cleaner you use to clean the box is perfumed make sure the box is rinsed thoroughly so that there is no residual smell for the cat. A cat’s sense of smell is far more acute than ours.

If possible leave the box outdoors to air and dry. Make sure the box is absolutely dry before adding the new litter.

You can also buy a cat litter deodorizer however be wary or any fragrances that may end up annoying you and the cat. A masking odor can become cloying. Ugh! Cloying odors can be sickening!

wiping a cat litter box clean around the edges
A spotlessly clean litter box. The cat will be happy!

How To Clean A Litter Box

  1. Firstly, dispose of the litter in the normal way. This may be by securing the ties of the cat litter liner. which has been been lining the box under the litter, and disposing. Or, it may be mean emptying the cat litter into a cat litter bag and disposing. Either way, the box is empty of litter at this stage.

  2. Wearing rubber gloves preferably, thoroughly wash the cat litter box in hot water with an unscented soap or liquid detergent.

    Avoid using any chemical products that may contain bleach. Bleach has a powerful odor.

    Don’t forget to wash around the edges or the lip of the box and on the side of the box. Ideally wash the box in the laundry area or outside if that is an option.
  3. If the box has some hard stuck on clumps, leave it to soak for 10 minutes before loosening.
  4. Be aware that many litter boxes have a non stick surface or an anti- microbial surface which may be ruined if you need to do some hard scrubbing. Best to avoid the scrubbing scenario, as it means more work for you.

  5. Make sure that the box is rinsed thoroughly as any residual perfume from the detergent may be a game changer for kitty. A game changer in that the cat may avoid using the box. What smells nice to us is not the same for the cat. Cats are sensitive to changes in fragrance and perfume.

  6. Leave to air dry or use an old towel to help the drying process along.

  7. Ensure the box is totally dry before adding the fresh litter. If you are using litter liners this is the time to put them into the box. Haven’t used them before? You may want to give them a try to see if they work for our situation.
how to look after a litter box
I’ll just wait a bit longer before I check the litter box for cleanliness. Time for a nap!

Where Should The Litter Box Be Located?

The cat litter box should preferably be located, away from food and away from water. If space is limited just bear this in mind and do the best you can.

If you are short of space consider a partition or screen to segregate a living area from a litter box area. Both can coexist, it just takes a little creative thinking.

Cat litter box furniture is amazing these days. The litter box can be totally disguised and actually look great in your home.

Is your cat an outdoors cat? Outside cats will always prefer to go to someone else’s yard to poop because their primal instincts are to deter predators. No matter how much we adapt to modern life, those instincts are still there.

Keeping this ancestral behavior in mind, your cat needs to be able to escape from the litter box, if he senses a threat or danger. Don’t poke the box into a confined space.

Of course you may not have huge open expanses but consider that wherever the box is placed, your cat needs to know that he can zip out at a moment’s notice.

As cats are basically scaredy cats, try not to place the box where there might be unexpected loud noises, for example a thoroughfare.

If possible, locate the box where these is some ventilation.

An open window and fresh air will work wonders for keeping down any odor.

How Much Litter Should I Use?

Be generous, too shallow and litter will fly everywhere as the cat may get quite frantic trying to bury her business. Don’t make the litter so deep that it becomes difficult to manage a very heavy box.

The litter should be about 3 inches deep (around 7 cm).

Use unscented litter where possible. The scent is really for humans and quite honestly if the box is scooped daily there should not be a pong problem.

Everyone’s pong o meter is different but regular scooping is definitely the key to success.

Recently there have been variants on scented litter that are not as overpowering plus many litters now are odor managed even without an added fragrance.

Litter Box Cleaning FAQ

Do litter boxes need to be cleaned every day?

Litter boxes do not need to be cleaned daily but they do need to be scooped on a daily basis to maintain a fresh litter box. Some cat owner scoop more than once per day.

How often should I clean my cat’s litter box?

How often to clean the litter box depends on how many cats are using the litter box. If you scoop the litter box daily and top up with fresh litter you can extend the life of the litter. Many people would say, they clean the litter box every couple of weeks. When you change the litter, give the litter box a good clean. Done regularly this should not be a big job.

How often should I change litter?

It does depend somewhat on the type of litter you are using. If you scoop the litter daily for solid clumps when using self clumping litter you may only need to change the litter every two weeks. It is something that you will need to experiment with. The key is daily scooping and topping up with fresh litter to avoid having to remove all of the litter on more frequent basis.

how to clean litter box with baking soda

You will need: Baking Soda, Lemon Juice, Water. Remove the soiled litter in the usual way. Rinse the box using water to remove surface litter dust or reaming granules.

Mix water and lemon juice mix. Add baking soda. The mix should not be too stiff, add more water or lemon juice if needed. Add the solution to the litter box. Leave the box for one hour if possible. Rinse the box thoroughly with water until there is no residue remaining.

how to clean a litter box in an apartment

Living in an apartment has its challenges when cleaning a litter box. You may consider going for a self cleaning litter box. The reason for this, is that it just the solids that you mostly have to dispose of. This article explains how automatic cleaning litter boxes work.

The method explained above, using baking soda can also be used in an apartment.

Another suggestion is to use the shower stall to clean the box. Use the baking soda recipe or hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly with water when cleaned.

Note: Do not allow any litter to escape down the drain of the shower stall. This can do serious and expensive damage to the plumbing system if it becomes clogged.

In Conclusion…

Although there may seem like a lot of dos and dont’s when it comes to looking after a litter box, it does become second nature.

How to clean a litter box is quite straightforward but does require a routine to keep it in tip top shape. Try nominating a day of the week for a good clean of the box. It will make it easier to remember when the box was last cleaned.

Decide on a cleaning schedule that suits you. Many people clean the litter box on the weekend as this is convenient however midweek would be fine if the weekend is too busy.

The main thing is to plan a schedule and stick to it. An ad hoc approach is more likely to lead to problems as it becomes difficult to remember when the litter box was last cleaned.

A dirty litter box will put kitty off and may result in litter box refusal. It is worth spending the time to keep the litter box smelling fresh as a daisy.

how to look after a litter box
I can’t think of a thing to add. Rebecca has nailed it!

More Litter Box Help

Is Cat Litter Going Everywhere? This is a common problem. Read this article for solutions to the litter spread.

Is Your Cat Pooping Anywhere And Everywhere? Read why cats poop in random places and how you can put a stop to this problem behavior.

Have You Tried Cat Litter Liners With Elastic? Elastic around the edge of cat litter liners can save a lot of time keeping the litter box clean.