Cleaning a Litter Box: All You Need to Know
The attention and care you spend on choosing, placing and caring for a litter box is critical to optimal cat health and wellbeing. Inappropriate elimination, meaning a cat that urinates outside of the litter box in the house, can be devastating to the cat and owner.
For this reason, we will focus this article on caring for and cleaning the litter box. Many first-time cat owners have many questions about cat care. Learn more by reading What You Should Know As a First Time Cat Owner and How to Be Successful at Taking Care of a Cat For the First Time.
What is the Best Type of Litter Box?
The best litter box is easy for your cat to go in and out, has high sides and ideally clear (transparent). A large clear storage container can work well as a litter box.
How Many Litter Boxes Should You Have?
The general rule of thumb is that you should always keep one more litter box than you have cats. So if you have one cat, you need two litter boxes. If you have two cats, then you need three boxes. If you have a two-story home, keep one litter box on each floor. Some experts suggest that you should have “one litter box per cat plus one, as well as one per floor, whatever is more”. So if you have a three-story house and one cat, you should have three boxes.
If you have ever had the unfortunate situation of a cat that isn’t using the litter box, you know that everything you can do to ensure the boxes are available is critical to your happiness.
How Big Should the Litter Box Be?
The litter box should be big enough for your cat to turn around in it. Don’t get a small litter box to save room. You want the litter box to be appealing to your cat.
Your cat will refuse to use it and you will have a bigger problem. Don’t buy a huge box and expect your kitten to climb it every time she has to use the bathroom.
Buy a small litter box for a kitten and then get a larger one as she grows.
Should you have a Hooded or Unhooded (Covered) Litter Box?
Some litter boxes are open and some have covers. Those with covers look better and they also help prevent the strong smell.
However, it isn’t necessarily what a cat likes. Some cats use hooded boxes without a problem but others refuse. In general, cats feel vulnerable when they eliminate. They want to feel safe. The covered box prevents them from seeing their surroundings and can make them feel afraid. Even though your home may pose no threat to your cat, instincts still exist. They like to see who’s coming and going in case they need to escape.
What is the Best Type of Litter?
In nature, cats generally dig and scratch in the dirt, soil, or sand when they eliminate, often burying their wastes. The litter and litter box is a replacement for that opportunity.
There are many brands and types of litter on the market. Some are sandy, pelleted, clay, biodegradable, and even made of wheat, wood or corn. Some litters are scented and others are unscented. Some clump together easily and make them easily scooped. Some are flushable and others are not.
Choosing a cat litter can be complicated.
In general, the best litter is an unscented scoopable litter. The scented litters generally allow us to hide the odors and can repulse cats. There are some specialty litters made for cats that have had litter box problems and made to attract them to the box.
Learn more about the types of litter in this article: The Fine Art of Litter Box Care.
How Often Should You Change Litter Brands?
Some cat owners will buy a new litter when they have a coupon or it is on sale. This is NOT a good idea. Once you find a litter that your cat uses, stick with it.
Where is the Best Place to Put the Litter Box?
Cats are very particular when it comes to doing their business. By researching why cats don’t use the litter box can often tell us what they do like.
Here are some general litter box placement rules:
- Once you have a good spot for your cat’s litter box, don’t move it.
- Don’t place the litter box in a noisy or high traffic area.
- Don’t place the litter box near the washer, dryer or furnace. Some cats can be frightened by these random sounds creating an aversion to using the box.
- Don’t put your cat’s litter box next to her food bowl or bed. Cats do not like to eliminate where they eat.
- A good place for a litter box is a quiet low-traffic area, such as in a spare bathroom or office. A corner location is better than out in the open because a cat needs to feel secure. If your cat has only two directions to watch instead of four she’ll be more relaxed.
- Keep the area around the litter box clean and picked up.
- When placing more than one box, put the boxes in separate locations. Some cats that are territorial or dominant may prevent access to other cats.
What is the Best Practice for Cleaning the Litter Box?
The best way to care for the litter boxes is to do the following:
- Scoop all litter boxes daily.
- Clean the litter box with soap and water and rinse well weekly or every other week.
- Replace all of the litter and clean the box with soap and water monthly.
- Do not use liners. When cats dig, they are often offended by the plastic liner at the bottom.
- Do not use scented litters unless they are made to attract cats and recommended by your veterinarian.
Additional Articles that May be of Interest About Cleaning A Litter Box:
- What You Should Know As a First Time Cat Owner
- How to Be Successful at Taking Care of a Cat For the First Time
- All About Your Cat’s First Vet Visit
- The Benefits of Neutering a Cat and Why You Should
- What Indoor Cats Need to Be Happy
- Selecting the Right Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat
- Understanding Cat Communication
- Understanding Your Cat’s Senses
- Understanding Feline Behavior Problems
- The Fine Art of Litter Box Care
- The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box
- Kitten Proof Your Home
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in Cats (CPR)
- How to do the Heimlich on Your Cat
- What is an Emergency Vet?
- When Should You Call the Emergency Vet Hotline?
- What is Pet Insurance?
- How Does Pet Insurance Work?