Cats can be finicky about their bathroom habits, so unless you want to be dealing with a regular mess at home, keeping your cat’s litter box up to their standards is very important. The following suggestions should keep your cat from “thinking outside the box.”
Boxes & litter
The general rule of paw is one litter box for each cat in the home, plus one more. That way none of them will ever be prevented from eliminating in the litter box because it’s already occupied.
It’s not possible to designate a personal litter box for each cat in your household, as cats may use any litter box that’s available. That means a cat may occasionally refuse to use a litter box after another cat has been in it. In this case, you’ll need to keep all of the litter boxes extremely clean, and you might even need to add additional boxes. However, it’s best not to place all the boxes in one location because your cats will think of them as one big box and ambushing another cat will still be possible.
Some people prefer to provide their cats with a covered litter box. While covered boxes can increase privacy and decrease the amount of litter that flies from the box when your cat buries their business, there are some potential downsides. An “out of sight, out of mind” little box is easy to forget about, which may lead to a dirty box with odors trapped inside (which is even less likely to be appealing to your cat). Covered boxes can also be difficult for larger cats to turn around and position themselves in, and may lead to easier ambushes upon exit.
Ultimately, if your cat doesn’t like a covered box, they won’t use it. To find out which type your cat prefers, you may want to experiment by offering both types at first.
There are a wide variety of litter boxes available that offer convenience and automation in cleaning your cat’s litter. Buyers beware: some of these features may prevent a cat from wanting to use their litter box, so if your cat is used to a traditional box, it’s best to stick to what they know.
Pick of the litter
There are several different types of cat litter on the market. The most popular ones are traditional clay litter, scooping/clumping litter, crystal-based/silica gel litter and plant-derived/biodegradable litter.
Most cats prefer fine-grained litters, presumably because they have a softer feel. Newer scoopable and “clumping” litter have finer grains than typical clay litter and are very popular because they keep down the odor. But high-quality, dust-free clay litters are fairly small-grained and may be perfectly acceptable to your cat.
Once you find a litter your cat likes, stick with it. Switching litters constantly could result in your cat not using the litter box.
If your cat has previously been an outdoor cat and prefers dirt, you can keep them out of your houseplants by placing medium-sized rocks on top of the soil in the pots. You can also mix some soil with their regular litter to lure them in. A cat who rejects all types of commercial litters may be quite happy with sand.
Many people use scented litter or air freshener to mask litter box odors, but often times, these odors can be offputting to cats. A thin layer of baking soda placed on the bottom of the box will help absorb odors without repelling your cat.
Sign up to receive our exclusive e-book full of important information about caring for your pet, including training techniques and answers to frequently asked questions.
Last week, we talked about adding the appropriate number of litter boxes to your house. Well, just because you added n+1 litter boxes doesn’t mean you can clean less frequently! We neurotic types clean litter boxes daily. If that’s too much for you, litter boxes should be scooped out at least every other day. Of course, this depends on how many cats you have. The more cats you have, the more frequently the boxes should be scooped out. While it’s a dirty job, it really should be done for the best interest of your cat(s).
If you notice your cat scratching outside the litter box instead of inside (“What’s a cat gotta do to get you to clean the litter box? Helllllo!”), it’s his way of telling you that the litter box is disgusting and he doesn’t want to get his feet filthy while he’s “attempting” to cover up his poop inside. If you just cleaned the litter box and he’s still doing it, it’s likely from a bad memory of getting soaked or dirty while in the box, so unless you want a pet that poops in random places, get in there and scoop.
Some cats will “hold it” and urinate as infrequently as possible to avoid stepping into a dirty, filthy, full litter box. Instead of urinating two to three times a day, your cat will tighten up and only go once a day. This makes his urine get more concentrated and could make crystals and urine debris plug up and cause him to get a life-threatening feline urethral obstruction (FUO). With FUO, cats may have stones, crystals, or mucous plugs in their urethra that prevent them from being able to urinate. Not only is this painful, but it can also lead to temporary kidney failure, electrolyte abnormalities, vomiting, lethargy, cardiac arrhythmias, and death. So to help prevent problems like this or even diseases like feline lower urinary tract disease or sterile cystitis (e.g., feline urinary tract disease or FLUTD), scoop!
The other added benefit of scooping frequently is that it helps you detect medical problems earlier. If your cat isn’t urinating, you’ll notice when there’s no urine in the litter box for two days. If your cat becomes a diabetic, he may be making larger and larger clumps and your whole litter box will be one huge clump after its weekly cleaning. But you’ll never be able to tell this if you’re not scooping enough. If your cat is acting constipated or having diarrhea, you won’t find out until days later, and by then it’ll be a bigger (and more expensive) medical treatment! As tedious as it is, please do your wife a favor and flush, and your cat a favor and scoop.
So, how do you scoop? I realize that sounds like a stupid question, but I’m often shocked how people are erroneously “scooping.” Some clients tell me they dump out the whole litter box (and all that clumping litter) every week. Yikes – no need folks! You and your cat’s carbon footprints are contributing to the overfilled landfills and making Al Gore very angry. Not only is this expensive, but it’s really wasteful. If you really want to know, I only completely empty and bleach out the litter box a few times year or so.
My tip? Use clumping litter if you’re not sure what your cat prefers, since studies have shown that cats prefer this type of litter the best. (More on “Clay, clumping, and crystal kitty litter: Which should I choose?” next week!). Next, keep an empty container (e.g., a 5 pound bucket that used to contain kitty litter), line it with a plastic bag, and use a scoop to scoop out the urine clumps and feces every day. Dump the clumps directly into the empty container, and voila: you just have to dump the plastic bag once a week. It makes it oh so easy to scoop, contains the smell in the empty bucket, and saves a few plastic bags while making it more convenient to scoop. As the kitty litter box becomes emptier, just add in clean clumping kitty litter. No need to dump out precious, expensive, eco-unfriendly full boxes when cleaning – just scoop out the dirty and add in clean.
I’ll elaborate on this more in next week’s blog on “Clay, clumping, or crystals.”
Hate cleaning your box? Have any tips this dirty job?
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
What to know about litter box training, cat poop, and cat pee
If you have a cat that spends any time indoors, you need a litter box. (In fact, you’ll probably need two. The general rule for litter boxes is, one for each cat, plus an extra.) Cats are naturally drawn to dry, sandy-ish spots to do their business, so a litterbox is like a big red sign that says, “Do it here!” We’ve got tips on how to pick your litter spot, make it appealing, and keep it clean.
Training kittens to use the litter box
You can start introducing kittens to the litter box when they’re about 4 weeks old. (Their mamas take care of their tushies until then.) If you see your kitty crouching, or sniffing for a place to “go,” move them to their box. Let them sniff around and paw at the sand. If they poop or pee, ignore the impulse to cheer — cats often like a little quiet and privacy at potty time.
It really helps your kittyBAE if their litter box is within easy reach. Keep it filled with nice fresh litter and scoop it every day. And keep tempting piles of soft material, like laundry, out of reach. You really don’t want your cat deciding that unfolded towels make an excellent toilet.
What you need to potty-train a cat
- Litter box (one for each cat in the house, plus one extra)
- Kitty litter
- Poop scoop
- Poop bags if you’re using non-flushable litter
- Enzyme cleaner (to clean up and neutralize smelly cat pee)
Picking a good litter box
To start, you want to match your litter box to the size of your cat. Kittens may need a smaller box, with at least one shallow side, so they can easily scramble in and out. They’ll graduate to a bigger box as they grow.
Pick a litter box that’s big enough for your cat to move around without bumping up against the sides. You want one that’s at least three to four inches deep. Because cats usually kick or paw litter over their leavings, a deeper box can help keep litter — and other stuff! — from flying out onto your floor.
Is your kitty a champion litter-kicker? See if they’re willing to use a covered box, or other furniture-type litter solutions. Covered litter boxes can get really stinky if you don’t clean them every day, but they may save you some extra sweeping.
Picking a kitty litter
Once you have your litter box, pour in about one to two inches of kitty litter. You want to cover the entire bottom of the box — too little, and the box gets gross very quickly; too much, and it’s easy to miss goop when you scoop.
Different cats may show preferences for different kinds of kitty litter. In fact, some cats can be downright divas about their litter tray. With kittens, it can help to start off with the kind they first used with their mama. Interested in going eco-friendly? There are many good litters on the market, from shavings to clay pellets and more. Start by using your usual litter, then gradually mix in your preferred litter type.
Many cat owners wonder about scented versus non-scented litter, or if clumping is better than non-clumping. Both are really a matter of your own preference (and what your cat will deign to use). However, kittens should start out with very basic non-clumping litter, so they don’t accidentally eat or inhale anything weird. You can swap that out for clumping or scented when they’re a few months old.
No matter which litter you pick, you should be scooping it every day. Dump out the old litter and put in new litter at least once a week. Wash the tray with enzyme cleaner every month.
Good places to put a litter box
Cats like a bit of peace and quiet when they’re doing their business. They also strongly prefer not to poop where they eat. If you have multiple cats, each cat should have their own litter box in their own space — it’s tempting to line them up in a row, but that’s unlikely to appeal to your kittyBAEs.
DO place your kitty litter box where
- you won’t trip over it
- your cat feels secure
- you can check regularly
- your cat doesn’t eat or sleep
DON’T place your kitty litter box
- near cat food or water
- where it’s hard for your cat to reach
- near sudden or loud noises (like from washers or dryers)
- in a too-dark room
- behind closed doors
Common litter box problems and solutions
Dealing with smelly litter boxes
If your cat’s litter box smells, change it! The cleaner you keep the box, the less funky it will be (and the more likely it is that your cat will use it). Ideally, you should scoop every day, replace the kitty litter every week, and rinse out the box every month. Use soap and water, or vinegar and water, to clean the box — never harsh cleaning supplies or bleach.
Cat urine is super-stinky because it’s super-concentrated. Even soap and bleach can’t completely remove the smell. This means that once a cat has peed somewhere, they may smell that pee and return again and again — perfect for litter boxes, but not for anyplace else. Happily, there are enzyme cleaners specially designed to tackle this problem. The enzymes break down the pee, helping to eliminate the smell and make the area less tempting to your cat.
Is your cat not bothering to cover their poops or pees? So long as the poop and pee seem healthy, it’s probably not a health issue. Your cat may be claiming their territory. Or maybe they just want you to admire their work. Scoop it and dump it! Problem solved.
Help your cat stop spraying urine
Spraying behavior from male cats doesn’t actually have much to do with litter box issues. Unneutered male cats use their urine to mark their territory. Neutering your boyBAE can help prevent or cut down on this behavior (and save your sofa). You can also try using calming pheromones, or fabric-safe sprays that make your furniture less attractive to marking males.
If your kitty is routinely missing the litter box, however, it may be a health concern. Your first step is to check with your vet. If nothing physical seems amiss, you may need to change their kitty litter more frequently, move the litter box, or add an additional box. These can all help tempt your cat to be tidier at the toilet.
If you can count yourself as one of the lucky cat owners who has never had the misfortune of walking into a room and smelling “cat,” then you very likely have a cat that is fastidious about going in the litter box every time, and you are indeed fortunate.
Very few pet parents enjoy having their home smell like it’s saturated with cat urine, and it’s one of the biggest complaints amongst cat owners who relinquish their cats. To help encourage good litter box habits, you need to make sure you keep your cat’s litter boxes clean.
A Clean Litter Box Is a Welcoming Litter Box
The cleaner the cat litter in the box is, the less likely your cat is to get fed up with putting her feet in it and going on the nice, clean floor. Cats also have preferences when it comes to litter type.
Use the Type of Litter Your Cat Prefers
A favorite type of litter among tidy homeowners is a clumping type of clay granule. It has been found that most cats prefer small, loose granules that can be easily pushed about with their feet and that shake off easily as they exit the box; nothing too fine or soft.
Unless you have been using a scented litter since your cat was a kitten, you might not want to experiment with changing from an unscented litter to a scented litter. If you do decide to try a new litter, mix it slowly with the old type of litter — a half and half mix — to get your cat used to it. Some cats will stop using the box if the litter is changed abruptly.
Scoop the Litter Box Frequently
Using a litter scoop with small and closely set holes, clean the clumps out of the litter at least once daily — more often if you have more than one cat.
To keep the smell to a minimum after cleaning, add some litter to replace what you removed while cleaning. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into the cat litter before using the litter scoop to turn the freshened litter.
How to Clean a Cat Litter Box
While scooping the litter box daily is essential, you should also be regularly cleaning out the entire litter box.
Washing a Litter Box
The best way to clean a litter box is to dump the entire box and soak it in hot water for a few minutes at least once a week. It is not necessary to use detergents or cleaning chemicals, as hot water will generally do the trick. A small amount of liquid dish soap added to the hot water will help loosen any “dirt” on the interior sides and bottom, and will refresh the box without leaving a toxic residue behind.
Avoid products that have ammonia, bleach, or any type of caustic ingredient. If you want to go a little further, you can mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide or vinegar in the hot water to remove any bacteria or smells.
Scrubbing and Cleaning Out a Litter Box
If the box needs more than a simple washing out, here are some supplies you will need:
Cleaning rag, scrub brush, or sponge that is set aside just for cleaning the litter box (and only the litter box)
If you are pregnant or have lowered immunity, always wear gloves for cleaning the box, along with a dust mask to prevent breathing in any of the litter dust. And always wash your hands and arms thoroughly after you have finished.
Once the box has been cleaned, dry it out with a paper towel or cleaning towel and then sprinkle the bottom with baking soda.
Avoid Adding Scented Products or Items In or Near the Litter Box
It’s best not to use anything scented in the box, or even in the same room as the box, since chemical smells, even the kinds of things that smell good to us, can repel cats and cause them to avoid the box or the room. Some scented products can be toxic for cats just through inhaling them in the indoor environment, so the best method is to neutralize and remove the odors rather than try to cover them up.
Finally, if you have more than one cat, many owners have found that having multiple litter boxes — one per cat — is the best method for preventing, or ending, turf wars. Likewise, if you live in a home with multiple levels, one litter box per level will make a big difference for a cat that has to go now.
How Often Should You Change Cat Litter? – Everything You Need to Know About Litter Box Management
- March 25, 2021
- Caring for a Cat , Cats , Kitten
Fact checked by a Hello Ralphie expert veterinarian
If you have ever owned a cat, you have probably noticed how particular they can be. Cats are naturally very clean animals, which is why they are so picky about where they urinate and defecate. If a cat does not have a clean and sanitary place to go, it will find somewhere else, or worse, it will hold it, which leads to a variety of health issues. So, how often should you change your cat’s litter?
If you want to keep your house clean and smelling fresh while also making sure that your cat is happy and healthy, take extra care to ensure you are providing your cat with a clean litter box. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Not only will we explain how often you should change cat litter, but we will also tell you everything you need to know about litter box setup and maintenance! You can also get in touch to make a vet appointment today if you have more questions.
Rules for Litter Box Maintenance
If you can, you should try your best to follow the rules listed below. While we know that circumstances change and people get busy, the more effort you put into keeping your cat’s litter box clean, the better it will smell and the happier your cat will be!
How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?
If you can, you should aim to replace cat litter at least once per week. However, if you scoop the litter frequently, it is possible to stretch litter changes to once every two weeks. We find that the easiest way to stay on top of litter changes is to schedule it for the same day every week. Stick to a routine, and before long, you will start doing it without putting much thought into it.
When it comes to changing the litter, you should start by pouring the old litter into the trash. Kitty litter can generate a lot of dust, especially when it is agitated, so be careful when you change it and choose a location that you can easily clean afterward. If you are sensitive to dust, you could consider wearing a face mask when tending to the litterbox or taking the cat litter tray outside to pour it out.
Remember, pregnant women should not change litter boxes, as there is a risk of contracting toxoplasmosis.
How Often Should You Scoop a Litter Box?
The more often you scoop the litter box, the better it will smell and the longer the litter can last. Scooping a litter box differs from a full litter change. Given that most cat litter brands clump, removing waste with a scoop is quite easy.
Scooping the litter box twice per day is ideal, but you can get away with only doing it once. Just make sure you avoid letting clumps sit for more than 24 hours, as that can be very off-putting for your cat.
Plus, regular litter box scooping helps you know that your cat is eliminating properly. Get the scoop on their poop if you need to know how often your cat should be eliminating.
How Often Should a Litter Tray be Washed?
Washing is the part of litter box maintenance that people overlook the most. Even when you scoop litter boxes often and change the litter regularly, the litter tray itself can still hold unpleasant odors.
To avoid this, simply wash the litter tray with dish soap and warm water. You should avoid using cleaning products with strong scents, or toxic ingredients, as the unnatural scents can put off cats with a strong sense of smell. We recommend cleaning the litter tray every month; however, you can clean it more frequently if you would prefer.
Rules for Litter Box Set-Up
If you have never owned a cat before, it might be tempting to purchase a small litter box and place it somewhere out of the way. While setting up a litter box does not have to be overly complicated, there are a few important rules you should follow:
Where Should You Put Your Cat’s Litter Box?
Again, cats are very particular, so litter box placement is important. Take the following into consideration when deciding where you will put your cat’s litter box:
- Avoid placing the litter box near the cat’s food and water.
- Find a quiet location where the cat will have some degree of privacy.
- If you have more than one cat, make sure each cat has its litter box and make sure they are far apart. Ideally, each cat’s litter box will be out of view from the other litter boxes.
- If you can, find a location that has good air circulation, which means avoiding putting your cat litter box in cupboards and stale-smelling basements.
What Size Litter Box Should You Choose?
In general, the larger the litter box, the happier the cat will be. However, if floor space is limited, you should aim for a litter box that is at least one and a half times the length of your cat.
The cat litter box should be large enough that your cat can comfortably enter and turn around. If you have an older cat, the entrance should be nearly flush with the ground.
How Many Litter Boxes Should You Have?
Most veterinarians recommend having at least one litter box per cat, plus an extra if you have more than one. For example, if you have three cats, you would need four litter boxes in your home. Again, the litter boxes should be kept apart, ideally in different rooms. Speak with a vet if you have any questions.
If you are a new cat owner or you want to make sure that your cat has the perfect living situation, including the right litterbox and kitty litter, we recommend booking a virtual veterinarian appointment to talk to a vet online today. Our online vets can go over everything you need to know about making your home cat-friendly. Best of all, virtual vet appointments are done from the comfort of your own home, so you will not have to put your cat through the stress of driving to an in-person vet clinic.
Talk to an online veterinarian today, and we can answer any questions you have about litter box maintenance and keeping your feline friend happy and healthy.
If you have more questions about litter box maintenance or are encountering specific litter box issues, like a cat that refuses to use its litter box, read through another of our useful litter box guides, Why Cats Pee Outside the Litter Box.
Cats lick their paws to clean themselves. If those paws walk through a filthy litterbox, their grooming could trigger urinary or kidney issues. And if your cats jump on counters or tables, well, you get the picture. That’s why it’s important for people who live with cats to know how to clean their litter boxes safely and how often.
How to Keep Your Cat’s Litter Box Clean
Cats will stop using their litterbox if it’s not kept clean to their satisfaction. Cats instinctively bury their waste, but they won’t if it means getting a mess on their paws. If the litter box is so full of messes that they can’t use it without getting dirty litter on their feet, they won’t use the box at all. So, if your cat suddenly begins going outside of its box and isn’t elderly or suffering known health issues, you need to step up your litterbox cleaning efforts.
1. Scoop it daily. Remove your cat’s waste from the litter box at least once a day. If you have multiple cats, you may need to do this more than once a day. Buy a scoop to do this, or use an old slotted spoon.
2. Discard clumps in the trash. Don’t flush the clumps you find, however. Cat litter is one of the things you should not flush down your toilet because it can block your plumbing.
3. Top up with fresh litter as needed. Cats need enough litter to cover their waste, but not so much that they can’t find stable footing while doing their business. Most cats prefer a depth of two to three inches of litter. So, after scooping, add fresh litter if necessary.
My Cat’s New Favorite Litter
I recently switched my cat to using a mini-crystal litter that rapidly dehydrates solid waste and absorbs liquids to trap odors. It’s been game-changing, and I may never go back to clay litter after this! There’s no dust, and my cat doesn’t track it everywhere. Also, there are zero odors. None. Zip. Nada. I’m currently using Vibrant Life, which you can get at Walmart or here on Amazon. It’s awesome stuff!
If you stay on top of daily scooping and litter replenishment, you may only need to dump and clean the litterbox monthly. In homes with multiple cats, or if your cat has frequent UTIs or kidney issues, it’s best to dump out and replace all of the litter each week. While the box is empty, use an unscented, bleach-free disinfecting wipe to clean up any messes you find, then add a new liner and fill the box with fresh litter.
How often you need to wash your cat’s litterbox varies. With one-cat households, you may only need to do it once a month. If you have more than one cat, you may need to wash it weekly.
To wash your cat box, empty it and remove any clumps with a scooper or paper towel. Use a mild, unscented liquid detergent and warm water to wash the box outdoors if possible. Scrub with disposable paper towels, then dump the dirty water, either outside or down the toilet. (Never flush cat litter.) Rinse with fresh water and dry the box with more paper towels. Refill the clean box with fresh litter and discard the used paper towels in the trash.
Baking soda (bicarbonate in the UK) is an excellent, all-natural way to control odors in your cat’s litterbox, and it doesn’t pose any health risk for them. Sprinkle it on the bottom of the liner when changing the litter, and mix more into the litter after daily scooping. If your cats often shred the liner, sprinkle baking soda directly into the box before lining it. That way, it can catch and absorb any liquids that get through.
If your cat will tolerate one, a covered litterbox controls odors better than an open one. Look for a box with a removable cover that has an opening large enough for you to reach through to scoop it. (Or buy a robot litterbox that does all the work for you.)
When to Replace a Litterbox?
In most cases, you should replace your cat’s litterbox annually. Litter boxes are made from hard plastic that features a slick surface designed to make cleanup easier. Over time, stray bits of litter and cats’ claws can gouge the surface and damage the finish, so the plastic will begin absorbing odor and developing stains. For self-cleaning or robot litterboxes, see your manufacturer’s instructions.
Tips to Safely Clean a Litterbox
• Do not use bleach or bleach-based disinfecting wipes in your cat’s litterbox. Cat urine contains ammonia which will react dangerously with bleach.
• Don’t use citrus products to clean your cat’s litterbox. They do not like the smell of citrus and will stop using the box as a result.
• If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, nursing, or have a compromised immune system, you should have someone else clean the cat’s litterbox if at all possible. Feline waste can contain a harmful parasite that you need to avoid. If no one else is available to clean the litterbox, be sure to wear rubber disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Have you ever watched a YouTube video showing one of those smarter-than-average kitties that can use and flush the toilet? If you can't even get your cat to use the litter box, you might be wondering what you are doing wrong.
Perhaps you've had some success with getting your cat to use the litter box. Maybe you're thinking about bringing a litter box into your home for the first time. The good news for worried pet parents is that there are many tried and tested ways to get your cat to go potty in the right place at the right time.
Fix these common litter box mistakes (faux-paws?)
If you're experiencing litter box issues, we've got you covered. Here are some of the most common mistakes — and how to fix them.
Have a question about your pet?
24/7 FREE expert advice for any issue — big or small.
1. Choosing the wrong litter box
Cats can be fussy, so finding the right litter box may take some time. Follow these steps to choose the right litter box for your cat:
Consider the size of your cat. A litter box should allow your cat to turn around easily. If the box is too small, your cat may refuse to use it or urinate over the edge onto the floor.
Choose the right height. Most cats can easily get into and out of a litter box with semi-high sides. However, an older cat or a cat with mobility problems may need one with lower sides.
Get at least one box for each cat. Cats are very private animals and won't typically share a litter box with other cats in the home. Provide one box for each cat, plus a spare.
Leave upgrades for later. Add-ons like covers and liners and fancy self-cleaning gadgets can seem like useful items, but you might want to wait and add these at a later date once your cat is happily using the litter box.
2. Choosing the wrong type of litter
Often, it's not the litter box that’s the problem, but the litter that's in it.
Many cats prefer the clumping kind, which has a fine texture and doesn't hurt their delicate paw pads. Others prefer clay-based litter as it’s also soft on sensitive paws. Another common choice is litter made from silica gel crystals, which absorb urine and help keep odor away. However, it be dangerous if your kitty licks silica gel off their paws. If you are looking for a biodegradable cat litter, recycled paper, corn, wheat, and walnut shells are other options to consider.
"I think the best type is the clumping, non-scented litter, says Carly Fox, DVM, veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. "But it depends on your cat. The best litter is what your cat prefers.”
If you are using multiple litter boxes, try different litter types in each. You'll soon work out which one your cat prefers.
3. Using too little — or too much — litter in the box
Cats love to dig before they go to the bathroom. You can keep your furry friends happy by making sure you put the right amount of litter in the box.
Having too much litter can cause your cat to dig around more than necessary, which can cause them to accidentally hide their poop. While the poop might be invisible to human eyes, it’s noticeable to your cat. If you can't locate and remove it, this may cause your cat to stop using the box altogether.
However, having enough litter in the box allows your cat to bury their poop and cover their tracks. The litter needs to be deep enough that it absorbs liquids and odors. Aim for a 3-inch layer as a starting point and add more as needed.
4. Placing the litter box in the wrong location
Another common litter box problem is location. A good rule is to place the litter box in an area of the house that’s easy to get to. Somewhere private and quiet is best, like hallways and bathrooms. If your home has multiple floors, place a litter box on each floor. And keep it away from your cat’s food and water bowls.
Your cat's needs will also help you to decide where to put your litter box. For example, an elderly cat may not be able to easily make it to the basement or bathroom in time.
It can take time to find the best place for your litter box. If your cat is not too keen on using the litter box in one location, try moving it to another area. Think of it as a game of "musical litter boxes!"
5. Not cleaning the litter box enough
One of the most common reasons a cat won't use their litter box is because it contains feces or has a urine scent.
While a human's nose has 5 million scent receptors, a cat's nose has 200 million. So be sure to remove and dispose of feces as quickly as possible and change the litter often. If you are using unscented litter or litter with no odor control, scoop out feces and urine clumps twice a day. Use a paper towel to dry any damp areas and put fresh litter over the top. You should empty and clean the box at least once a week using a fragrance-free soap. Keeping your litter box in pristine condition can help keep your cat happy — and control odor.
Keeping your cat’s litter box clean and fresh is an important part of making sure your pet stays healthy and happy. It’s also critical for your own satisfaction as a cat parent.
Since feline business can be pungent, make sure you’re cleaning your cat’s litter box the right way. See our cat cleaning tips below.
Prevent litter box problems.
An inadequate number of litter boxes or a messy feline toilet can cause a cat to find another, more welcoming spot in which to do business – your bedspread, the corner of your closet, or the showermat in your bathroom, for instance.
Prevent litter box problems by having one litter box per cat plus one extra. Choose the litter box your cat will enjoy using. If your cat likes doing business out in the open, select a Tray. Need more space? Try our Modkat XL. We don’t recommend self-cleaning litter boxes since these can frighten household pets.
Give your cat the pick of the litter by selecting a high-grade, clumping option that your cat will use. Finally, make sure your cat’s litter box is in a quiet but accessible place such as a guest room.
How often do cats use the litter box?
Cats generally pee 2-4 times each day . Factors such as fluid intake, age, and home temperature can affect a cat’s urination schedule. If you notice any changes in how often your cat pees, check with your vet to rule out bladder or kidney diseases.
More solid business happens about once a day although don’t worry if it’s more frequent than that. Kittens tend to relieve themselves more often than adult cats. Diet, medications, exercise habits, and overall health may affect a cat’s defecation schedule. Note that a cat suffering from diarrhea, blood in the stool, or constipation needs to see a vet. These symptoms should never be treated at home.
Using the litter box 3-5 times daily is normal, and thus, it takes regular work to keep things clean and pleasant.
How often should you scoop a litter box?
Ideally, cat parents should scoop the box twice a day. If that’s not possible, you can probably get by with a single daily scoop. Don’t let it sit for more than a day though. You know how gross it would be to live with an unflushed toilet for several days.
When scooping litter, drop the clumps in a sealed bag, and toss the whole thing in an outside trash can.
You’ll need to clean your litter sifting tool when you clean the box. A paste of baking soda and water works great for this chore.
How often should you change a litter box?
Most people replace their cat litter every week, some every few weeks. You can do so more often if you need to. The rule of thumb is to add 3-4 inches of fresh cat litter after dumping out the old.
Remember that pregnant women should never change litter boxes due to the slight risk of contracting toxoplasmosis. Also, keep in mind that cat litter should never be flushed down the toilet in order to protect the water supply and the animals who live in it.
How often should you wash a litter box?
Typically, cat parents wash the box once a week. You can use dish soap and warm water or vinegar and water to clean the box. Don’t use traditional bleach since it can interact with the ammonia in cat urine.
Regular washing will prevent the plastic material of your litter box from absorbing cat odors. That means you won’t have to replace a litter box nearly as early if you clean it often.
Why does my cat freak out when I clean the litter box?
Dominant cats often want to remark their territory after you’ve washed away all the smells, so they’ll jump back in the litter box to take a leak right after you’ve freshened it up. And some cats may wonder why you’re sifting through their nuggets.
Otherwise, cats shouldn’t get too upset by a simple cleaning action. In fact, they’re more likely to get turned off by a stinky litter box than by one that’s just been washed.
So keep your cats’ toileting quarters in good shape, and you should have a happy, healthy kitty who’s ready to snuggle, watch birds, or play with cat toys – the fun part of cat parenthood. ? ?
Shop the Modkat litter boxes and accessories to freshen up your cat litter area today!
There are many reasons a cat may not like his litter box. One of the most important reasons, and thankfully the easiest to remedy, is that the litter box is just plain dirty. Our feline friends will put up with a lot in terms of lax litter box cleaning habits, but at some point every cat will stop and say “No way!”
Some cats, just like some people, are more bothered by unsanitary conditions and will stop using their litter boxes sooner than other cats might. Unscooped, dirty litter boxes are the cat equivalent of that public bathroom with toilet paper all over the floor and unflushed toilets — you wouldn’t want to use that either! An extension of this problem is having too few litter boxes for your cats — the rule of thumb is at least one more litter box than the number of cats in the house.
Litter boxes should be scooped at least once or twice a day, and it’s even better if you can get to it as soon as your cat has finished his business. There are self-cleaning litter boxes available that use a sensor to tell when a cat has entered and then left the litter box. While these are great at keeping up on scooping duties for people, they tend to scare at least some cats away from using their litter box and would not be a good choice for a timid cat. In addition to daily scooping, it is important to regularly change the litter box (twice weekly for non-clumping litter, monthly for clumping litter) and to wash it with soap and water. Plastic litter boxes should also be replaced once a year, because the scratches they tend to get during regular use can hold odor and debris.
Litter trays are an important part of your cat’s life. Cats can be very particular about their toileting habits, so a suitable area where they can do their business happily is important to their well-being. A privately placed and clean cat-tray is ideal, as is the right litter and size, depth and shape of the tray. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about everything ‘cat litter’ so that you can have the happiest cat and the cleanest home, always.
Where should you put a cat litter tray?
Cats prefer privacy, so we advise placing litter trays in a quiet area of the house. Some cats may like the option to use a covered litter tray. Either way, try to never disturb your cat while they’re toileting!
How often should you change cat litter?
Ideally, you should spot clean your cat’s litter tray every day and replace the litter at least once a week. If the tray is left to become dirty, your cat may prefer to use the floor instead!
What should you use to clean a cat litter box?
Always make sure any cleaning products you use are safe for cats. Keep in mind that any strong-scented cleaning products and scented litter may put your cat off using their tray.
What type of cat litter is best?
Some cats have a preference for certain kinds of litter. If your cat is avoiding their tray, try changing to a new litter. We saw wood pellets perform best in our trials; however, some cats may prefer a fine sandy litter.
If you change the type of litter you use, we advise mixing in the new one gradually, over a week, or placing it in a separate litter tray so that your cat can choose. If you’re house-training a kitten, add a little of their old litter to the fresh when cleaning the tray – the familiar scent encourages them to use it until they’re fully housetrained.
What size cat litter tray is best?
The size, depth and shape of your cat’s litter tray need to allow them easy access with plenty of space for turning freely. If you have more than one cat, make sure you provide enough litter trays – we recommend one tray per cat, and a spare is also a good idea. Litter trays should always be made of robust, non-toxic, sturdy and durable material.
How deep should a cat litter tray be?
Some cats prefer shallower litter and others deeper – however, always make sure there’s enough for them to dig and cover their business!
Accidents at home
If your cat has occasional accidents at home, this could indicate stress or anxiety. It’s important not to punish them, as it’s often counterproductive, they won’t understand and it may make them more stressed.
To clean accidents, wash the area with a solution of biological or enzymatic washing liquid or powder. It’ll help remove any residual smell and may help break the habit of your cat going in less-than-ideal places again.
If your cat is toileting regularly at home, please consult your vet, as it may be a sign of a health problem.