How often should you clean your cat's litter box? Any cat owner will tell you that kitty litter is absolutely crucial to living a clean, healthy life with your cat. A well-placed litter box can help your cat learn how and where to relieve themselves, and will give them a space that is just theirs. With so many litter options out there, which is the right one? We have compiled all of the information you will need to decide how often you will need to clean out your cat's litter box, what type of litter is right for them, and how you can live your best life with your furry friend.
What is litter made of?
Before we can talk about how often to clean out your litter box, we need to understand what litter is made out of. Kitty litter can be made from a lot of different materials, according to Petfinder. The litter that is right for you will depend on your cat’s personality, likelihood of ingesting the litter, and how much you are willing to spend on the box and the litter. In order to determine what kind of litter to choose, try setting up a “litter cafeteria.” In order to set this up, you will need a number of uncovered litter boxes. These should all be the same box, and should be filled with different litter. Your cat will relieve themselves in the box that contains the litter they like the best, making the decision for you.
Cat litters made of clay are the oldest type of cat litter. Clay is an ideal material for kitty litter, because it is highly absorbent. Traditionally, clay litter can absorb its weight in cat urine and is somewhat odor resistant. Clay can only absorb so much liquid, however, and once it can no longer absorb any more, the odor becomes significantly worse.
These types of litters need to be changed and cleaned out quite frequently. When they need to be changed, the entire box needs to be thrown out, which is not entirely cost efficient. In some cases, bentonite, a type of clay, is added to the litter and allows for dirty areas to clump. These clumps can be easily removed and the rest of the litter does not have to be thrown out. This means that you do not have to have a scheduled time to clean out your litter box, you can just do so when it is necessary.
Some cat litters are crystalized, and are created by a silica gel. The gel is highly absorbent, and can control odor as well. Silica litters are a good alternative to clay litters, which tend to produce a lot of dust. With a silica litter, you will experience a lot less dust in your home. There are some concerns that the silica material can be harmful to cats if ingested in large amounts. If this is something that might be of concern to you, we would recommend choosing a different type of kitty litter.
For those who are concerned about their cat ingesting the litter, biodegradable litters are a great alternative. These litters are eco-friendlier than traditional cat litters and are generally made from recycled paper products. They can also be made from natural materials such as pine, wheat, corn, beet and soybean. These are great litters because they will not clutter landfills and you can even make these at home by using similar materials. One of the disadvantages of making your kitty litter at home is that you will need a lot of it. You can ask your neighbors or coworkers to save their junk mail and old newspapers for you. You will also need to have a shredder in order to create a size that will work well for the litter box.
Clumping or non-clumping?
In general, there are two types of kitty litter: clumping and non-clumping. As we have mentioned earlier, traditional clay litter is non-clumping because it was designed to remove odors and can absorb a lot of urine before it needs to be changed. There are some non-scented types of non-clumping litter, and there are also ones that have baking soda or charcoal added inn, which help control the odors as well.
Besides clay, non-clumping litter can be made of plant-based materials, such as wood. Some people prefer to use the non-clumping litter because it tends to be more affordable than clumping litter.
Clumping cat litters allow the litter material to form into a clump once it has been soiled, making it “scoopable” and therefore avoiding the need to clean out the entire litter box, as is typically necessary with non-clumping litters. This does not mean that boxes that contain clumping litter do not need to be entirely cleaned out every once in a while. These boxes still need to be emptied, cleaned and refilled with clean litter at least once a month.
How do I set up my litter box?
Now that we understand how litter works, the next thing to tackle is how to use it and set it up so that your cat will want to use it regularly. Litter boxes should be at least four inches deep and large enough for your cat to move around without being cramped. Each cat in your home should have their own litter box, so that there is always a space available for them. When choosing what litter to use, consider commercial litter that has been specially designed to be the most sanitary. There are two types of litter: clumping and non-clumping. Standard, or non-clumping, litter will need to be changed every time your cat uses the litter box. With clumping litter, you can rake out the dirty clumps and leave the rest. Though there is some litter that you are able to flush down the toilet, other kinds will mess up your plumbing, so it is important to make sure before you attempt to use your toilet as an easy disposal method.
Litter boxes should be placed out of the way and in a convenient spot for the cat to use. When you are working with kittens, keep the kitten in the same room as the litter box for several days, until they have learned where to go and how to use it. It is also a good idea for you to have one more litter box than you have cats, so that there is always a space for your cat to go. When deciding where to place your litter box, make sure it is in a quiet place away from foot traffic. It is best if the litter box is not in a drafty area, such as near a heating or cooling vent.
How much litter should I use?
The amount of litter you will need to use for your cat will depend on their digging preferences. You should also take into consideration how often you intend to scoop out the soiled litter, and what type of litter you are using. For cats who generally do not dig a lot, you will only need two or three inches worth of litter in the box. You can then adjust the depth of the kitty litter if your cat prefers to dig deeper or you intend to scoop less frequently.
Scented or un-scented?
Cats tend to prefer to use a litter box that contains unscented, clumping litter. They especially tend to prefer litter that is made of fine sand-like granules instead of larger pieces of litter. Cats also tend to have an aversion to any that is floral or citrus-scented. Ideally, you should stay clear of scented litters altogether.
Many cats will avoid using litter than contains odor-control substances such as baking soda or carbon. It is important to keep an eye on your cat if they start to show signs that they do not like the litter box, because you want to avoid litter box aversion. Litter box aversion is a sign that your cat does not like either their litter box, the litter itself, or the location of the box. They will begin to relieve themselves somewhere else in the house, and it can be very difficult to train them to use the litter box again.
There are a number of litters that come highly recommended, and you may want to try them out if you are still determining which would be best for your cat.
This clumping clay litter is ideal for owners who would prefer their cats use clay litters but would also like to avoid having lots of dust in their house.
Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Premium
This clumping, low-dust litter is also hypoallergenic and contains no plant proteins, perfumes or deodorants. It is a great option for those who are concerned that their cat may ingest a lot of litter.
World’s Best Cat Litter
This clumping non-clay litter is ideal if you cannot handle any dust in your home. It is also safe to flush down your toilet, and will not cause problems for your septic system.
sWheat Scoop Fast-Clumping
This all-natural cat litter is ideal for owners who prefer not to use clay litters. It is known for its long-lasting odor control and the fast-clumping material is ideal for cleaning out the litter box. It is also 100 percent biodegradable and has no added dyes or perfumes.
Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief
This cat litter is ideal for cats who suffer from asthma. Anything that irritates your cat’s lungs can make their asthma worse, so it is important to make sure you use a cat litter that will not irritate their lungs.
Yesterday’s News Unscented
This cat litter is also a great choice for asthmatic cats, as it has been designed to create as little dust as possible. This litter also has no added fragrance and has an effective odor-control. This litter is also a great option for cats who are recovering from surgery, especially if they have stitches, a cast, splint or bandage. This litter is the least likely to irritate any surgical areas.
Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract
This litter is ideal for a new kitten who might need a little extra help finding the litter box, especially if there are no adult cats around to teach them how to use the litter box. This litter is scented in a way that can help your cat find the right place to relieve themselves.
Why have my cat’s litter box habit changed?
There are a number of reasons your cat’s litter box habits have suddenly changed, according to Preventive Pet. It is very important to pay attention to how they typically use their litter box, so that you will be aware of anything that is out of the ordinary.
If you notice a higher number of larger clumps of urine, that could be a sign of:
- Kidney infection
If you notice fewer, smaller clumps, that could be a sign of:
- Impending urinary obstruction
- Bladder inflammation
- Your cat may not be using the box
If you notice more stool or larger stool, that might be a sign of:
- Change in diet
- Intestinal infection
- Food allergy
If you notice less stool or smaller stool, that might be a sign of:
- Digestive obstruction
- Your cat might be pooping outside the box
At the end of the day, the decision on which kitty litter to use depends entirely on your cat and your lifestyle. Take some time when you first get your cat to get to know them. Watch their habits to figure out where in the house would be the ideal space for the litter box. It should be placed in a quiet space that is easily accessible to them. You will want to watch for their digging habits as well, so you can determine how much litter to put in the box at one time.
Next, you should consider your family’s lifestyle. Do you have anyone in the house who has an allergy, or who might be at risk of developing an allergy? If so, you will want to choose a kitty litter that is hypoallergenic both for your and for the cat. With so many kitty litter options to choose from, you will be sure to find one that works for you and your cat.
If you find that your cat is really struggling when it comes to using the litterbox, you may want to try using pheromones to help calm your cat down. Pheromones help you cat de-stress and can help them not get too anxious when it comes to using the litter box.