How To Look After A Litter Box

How To Look After A litter Box answers questions cat owners have about keeping a litter box clean and fresh.  It's about taking simple steps to keep the litter box clean.  This article will explain how to do just that. 

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

How Big Should The Litter Box Be?

The size of the box does impact on how easy it is to keep the box and surrounding area clean. Ideally the box should be approximately one and a half times longer than your cat. That may seem long but if you have the space definitely consider this when purchasing.

A cat needs space to turn around 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.

The correct size will mean that less litter will be scattered outside the box.

looking after a litter box

How Often Should The Litter Box Be Scooped?

Keep the box clean by scooping at least once a day.  Some people do scoop the litter box more often and 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, reminding you that you need to scoop.

If you are using a standard litter box that means scooping the clumped feces and urine once a day and then disposing of the matter, in the trash preferably. Use a good quality scoop, you want to make this job as easy as possible so you need the best equipment.

Cats don’t like dirty litter boxes and if they stop using the litter box they may go to the toilet in less desirable locations.  I’m sure you get the drift. Regularly following the steps outlined in how to look after a litter box is easy to do once a routine is established.

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

how to look after a litter box

Can Cat Litter Be Flushed Down The Toilet?

This can be a somewhat controversial topic and there are some litters that are marketed as flushable. 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.  

Even though it may seem like a good idea, don't leave the litter box in the shower stall while you are at work. 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.  

If there was a fail-safe method it would be great 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?

No, not 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.

keep litter box clean

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 also have a cat. It is mainly commonsense but there's some good points to note.

How Do You Dispose Of Cat Litter?

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. 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.

Some cat litter bags have a drawstring which makes it easier to secure the top ready for disposal.

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 plastic 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. Biodegradable bags are the best choice if you have that option.

Do I Need A Cat Litter Scoop?

Yes, you will need a cat litter scoop to scoop the litter box.  They all do the same job however the design features and sizes vary, some may be plastic others stainless steel and so on.

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

When buying a scoop look at the size of the sieve to make sure that is is suitable for the litter you are using.  If the litter is fine you will need a finer sieve and if the litter is larger such as crystals the sieve can be wider.

If you have mobility problems choose a litter scoop with a long handle.  This will eliminate having to bend over to scoop and potentially aggravating back problems.

Don't forget to wash the scoop when you are washing the litter box.

cat walking out of cat litter box

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.

What Do You Use To Clean The Litter Box? 

Use an unscented soap product to clean the 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.  

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

A cat’s sense of smell is far more acute than ours.

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.  

Cleaning The Litter Box

  1. Dispose of the litter.
  2. Wash in hot water with any liquid detergent. Avoid using any chemical products that may contain bleach. Wear rubber gloves. As mentioned previously unscented soap is good but not essential. Wash thoroughly. Don't forget to wash around the edges and on the side of the box. Ideally wash the box in the laundry area or outside if that is an option.
  3. Make sure that the box is rinsed thoroughly as any residual perfume from the detergent may be a game changer for kitty.
  4. Leave to air dry or use an old towel to help the drying process along.
  5. Ensure the box is totally dry before adding the fresh litter.
how to look after a litter box

Where Should the Litter Box Be Located?

Preferably, away from food and away from water or if space is limited just bear this in mind and do the best you can.

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.  Bearing this in mind, your cat needs to be able to escape if he senses a threat or danger so 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.

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

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.

taking care of a litter box

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.

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. 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 controlling even without an added fragrance.

and finally...

Although there may seem like a lot of dos and dont's when it comes to looking after a litter box, it will soon 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.

More Litter Box Help

Is Cat Litter Going Everywhere?

This is a common problem.  Read this article for solutions to the litter spread.

What is the best vacuum for cat litter?

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 cat litter liners can save a lot of time keeping the litter box clean.

keep the box clean for the cat