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How Often Should You Clean The Litter Box?

Feb 13, 2014 · Updated Jul 21, 2016 · ·
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  1. Anne
    Kitty wants the litterbox to be clean and so do you. The question is how often should you clean the litter box to achieve a satisfactory level of cleaningness? How often should you scoop and at what intervals should you throw away the remaining litter and wash the box?

    Why Keep the Litter Box So Clean?

    It really isn't very complicated. I could tell you that cats are fastidious animals that like a clean bathroom, but let's face it, so are we. Would you use a soiled toilet? Don't expect your cat to, either.

    Now that we have the general principle down, what's a practical yet effective litterbox cleaning routine?

    If you're the lucky owner of an automated litterbox, then follow the manufacturer's instructions. If, like most of us, you're the robotic mechanism in charge of the box, here's what we suggest -

    Scooping

    Ideally, you should scoop every time your cat uses the box. For most owners, this simply isn't practical, as they may be away during the day. In that case, opt for cleaning the box twice a day, mornings and evenings. Scoop out the feces and urine clumps (if you're using clumping litter) and add fresh litter as needed.

    Cleaning the box itself

    Clean visible muck as you see it, but even if the box looks clean, it's a good idea to give it a good scrubbing once in a while. Most of our members do that once a week for non-clumping litter.
    Some members use disposable trays inside the box, changing them as needed without having to scrub the actual box.

    For clumping litter, where urine can be scooped out leaving the remaining litter clean, members do the complete-box-cleanup less frequently. From twice a month to twice a year, or as needed, seems to be a TCS members' range.

    Cleaning the Box is for your cat - not you. Don't avoid cleaning and try to mask the smell instead. Your cat will notice and you're creating a recipe for litterbox aversion down the road.

    Make it easy for you to scoop

    The easier it is for you to scoop, the more likely you will be to stick to a good scooping routine.

    Here are a few tips -
    • Use a good scooping shovel.
    • Keep sturdy and large plastic bags next to the litterbox. If you can't find sturdy bags, use two of them for double insulation.
    • Keep a quality trash bin nearby, for quick disposal of those bags. You could try the Litter Locker Ii Hygenic Soiled Litter Disposal System.
    • Keep a light chair nearby. If you need to, sit down for scooping to avoid back and knee problems and allow yourself time to scoop properly.
    • Work scooping into your morning and evening routine. Designate set times and include enough time to thoroughly wash your hands after scooping.
    The quotes in this article are from our members who posted to this thread -
    How Often Do You Clean The Litter Box

    Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

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  1. tarasgirl06
    Another educational, informative and excellent "Cats 101" article! We've used SoPhresh scoopable, unscented litter for many years, with great results. Experts say cats prefer a sandy substrate, which this is; and they do NOT like the horrible, strong, chemical "perfume" smells so many "supermarket" litters have. I don't, either, and have to hold my nose when walking through the laundry soap aisle because the smell is so objectionable and caustic.
    I scoop 5 or more times per day. And I clean on as as-necessary basis. I have a plastic waste bin and put a supermarket produce bag in it daily. Then I tie off the bag and put it in the outdoor trash receptacle. No problems with this method, ever. And I have several very heavy-duty metal scoops; our boxes are large enough that I just stand them in the far corners of the boxes.
  2. samuel medina
    Snickers doesn't like me messing with her litterbox. I scoop twice a day, will be cleaning out probably every other week (just got her). I've learned to shut her in a different roomduring scooping because she bit my arm while scooping. :p
  3. csipost
    Janet Andrea: I cannot forget something I did not know. I had no idea the toxoplasmosis would survive flushing to cause "suffer/die/have miscarriages" in humans. I only do it cause it says to on the bottle & is more convenient. But being a long-haired eco-hippy I have no problem using the dumpster instead, plus my toilet gets dirty fast from flushing clumps twice a day. The time I save cleaning it so often will pay for the extra dumpster trips. Seems this (fact?) should be more widely announced by manufacturers. See, the internet IS a good thing - live & learn  -Thanks for the scolding.
  4. 2kittiesplusme
    Here's my experience/Info on good scoopers, and a different sort of cat litter.  For a scooper, I had a metal one from the pet supply store and it rusted.  I've replaced it with two tools for scooping. I bought a stainless steel slotted vegetable server for the clumps, and a large stainless steel spoon for stuck-on urine blobs.  I got these at a fancy cookware store.  As for litter, I had tried multiple kinds of litter for years.  Like csiPost says, my cats would only use clay letter -- any clay litter, any brand, though, not just Cats Pride.  Then one of the experts at a locally owned pet supply store told me about walnut litter.  I use Naturally Fresh Walnut Based Litter for Cats.  There are other brands of walnut shell litter, too.  The shells are ground down so the particles are about the same size as the clay litter particles. It's also lighter to lift, which is good for me.  According to many sources, and this from the GreenUpGrader website, Clay litter is terrible for the environment, and most of the problem happens before you pick up the box at the store. To get all of those little, grey pellets, companies use strip mining, which is just a shade less destructive than full on mountaintop removal mining.  That's why I felt terrible that some of my cats only would use clay litter.  But I now have found the walnut based litter.  I gradually introduced it into the litter boxes, and the cat's didn't even notice. I've used this walnut based litter exclusively for several months.  The cats are fine with it, and so am I!
  5. janet andrea
    HEY, you who are flushing your litter! I know your plumbing will be ok or can be fixed. The health of any female homosapien and their unborn children is what you've FORGOTTEn. litter in the city sewer or in a septic system can spread toxoplasmosis and your neighbors suffer/die/ have miscarriages. I bet you can manage to bag and toss the litter - then wash your hands.
  6. lisabh
    I have 2 cats, 2 litter boxes in different locations and clean them both everyday. I scoop, sprinkle tidy cat deodorizer in it, move it around and top them off a little fresh litter.
  7. lisabh
    I cant imagine not changing it everyday! I have 2 cats, and 2 litter boxes. One in each closet. And always sprinkle baking soda in it for smell. My cats let me know if I'm not on top of it!!!
  8. lexi61
    Sorry, never mind. I just checked out " How to choose the right litter box" and it answered my questions. :)
  9. lexi61
    On short notice yesterday, I took in twin sisters about 3-4 months old.
    I had to run out to purchase what they needed and picked up a disposable litter box. It's only 4 inches high and supposed to last up to 4 months. I also purchased Arm & Hammer, scented, scoop-able litter for their box.
    I realized, after cleaning about an hour ago, that it's not nearly deep enough. I've got the litter at 3 inches. The clumps went all they way to the bottom of the box making it wet down there.
    Even after thoroughly scooping the box out and disposing the waste, it still smells. 
    Any suggestions for how deep a litter box and the litter should be?
    Also, I heard their should be a ratio of litter boxes per cat. It was suggested 3 litter boxes for 2 cats.
  10. csipost
    Cats Pride is the only litter my feral HoneyBun will go in, I think cause it's the consistency of sand.
    Any other kind & she poops next to the box inches away! So I now have Russian Nesting Boxes since she stands on the
    top corner lip of the inner box with all fours & pees against the inside edge, both boxes are inside of a washing machine drip pan.
    Also the version I use (but not all varieties) is certified flush-able (but not into septic systems) from Oil Dri Corp of America.
  11. grooverite
    Also, I just bought a metal scooper and it is MILES better than the previous plastic one I had! What was I doing with a plastic scooper for so long?!?!
  12. grooverite
    I am with ScubaCat 1000%!!!!!! Thats me to the TEE.
  13. miraculousbeads
    I use Hartz Multi Cat Strong even though I have one cat.  I clean it at least three times a day and immediately after she has a bowel movement.  Nothing can cover up that odor.
  14. raysmyheart
    Speedy will sit by the box and watch me intently as I scoop her box when I arrive home from work.  Just as the box is clean, she will climb in the box to use it.  Has she been waiting all day for this?  I am amazed at how fastidious cats are and I feel very appreciated that she likes the clean box.  When I am home, I scoop any time there is something to scoop, but to see her sit by the box and so patiently watch me scoop so that she can use the bathroom - I can "hear" her saying "Thank you Thank you"!
    Just as I am writing this, I am thinking, maybe I should add a second box for her to use, I feel like why did I never think of this??  OK, time for two boxes!
  15. dennis47
    Yeah that stench can be pretty overwhelming for us humans if we have sensitive noses!
  16. miraculousbeads
    I scoop the litter box 2-3 times a day and replace litter as needed because even though my cat covers her feces, the smell just manages to reach my nostrils.
  17. dennis47
    I would clean it one every three days when I had Midnight. I'd wash the pan and dry it completely, then put as high of quality cat litter as I could afford. Also sprayed around the box area with Lysol, as Midnight absolutely LOVED the smell of it.
  18. dbljj
    I scoop and flush daily. Actually empty and wash with scalding water mixed with concentrated liquid Lysol  every 8-10 days. So whether I use liners or not the scent is so fresh when I finish, dry out good with paper towels and I use clay and crystals mixed about 50/50. cats have no complaints,  I have 2 big litter boxes one in each end of house and a smaller one in guest bath where the new kitten stays at Nights and for her naptime.BUt they all use them 
  19. SeventhHeaven
    For people busy all the time with 1-3 cats using clumping the Littermaid box is works great you just throw out receptacle every few days (or once week depending) easy clean everytime, no need to check the box daily it's always done.
  20. camillel
    I have three cats and one large litter box I do the cleaning twice a day morning and night. I use the clumping litter so the box itself doesn't need alot of cleaning. I clean and sanitize the box as needed. It depends on my three stooges and if they make a big mess. I think sometimes they forget its a potty and think it is a sandbox to play in
  21. beverlyjane
    DOLLAR TREE that's where!!!!  5 lbs for ONE DOLLAH!  It don't get no better than this, empty it (of course), but not even on a daily basis! 2 No smell.  $2 a month.  After the second week...throw the whole thing!  WHO cares! DO NOT flush it.  It may not be a problem for you, but by God...it truly is a problem for someone else.  think about it!  U know, I had adopted a feral cat (kudos and scars later) but she ended up falling in total love with me, so it WAS worth all of the scratches and bites.  BUT I had 18 acre of land for her to bury in.  In the winter, yes, we had the litter box...but as soon as April hit, this cat was "Let me outta here!"  She was such a great cat.  I had to give her up to move to Cali...we used to go for walks in the woods, and if she lost sight of me...she wld sit in the middle of the trail...and "meew" "Momma, where ARE you??!" Thanx 4 "listening..."  signed the "Deafie..."
  22. beverlyjane
    k girls, listen to me.  (READ me)?  BEST  cat litter I have found:  Blue Ribbon D.E.  ... "Premium" Cat Litter....in a brown paper bag.  just shy of 5 lbs (of course);  Guess where..........
  23. artyjill
    ,l can't believe some only empty litter once a month and a big scrub once a YEAR. I use clumping litter and empty once a day and thats with a 10 month old kitten
  24. artyjill
    ,l can't believe some only empty litter once a month and a big scrub once a YEAR. I use clumping litter and empty once a day and thats with a 10 month old kitten
  25. Anne
    @explodom  please post specific questions in the forums. We've had similar discussions in the past and I'm sure our members would be happy to share their poo-disposal methods with you ;)
  26. explodom
    How do I dispose of the faeces
  27. luv2cats
    I've also read about litter made from tea leaves, but don't know anyone who has tried it.
  28. Anne
    @Maui Cheetah Thanks for the feedback! Why don't you add your review to that brand in our litter reviews section? If it's not there, send me a PM and I'll be happy to add it. 
  29. maui cheetah
    Let's talk litter...Through dozens of cats and trying dozens of different kinds of litter I have found the one that beats them all paws down.  Litter made from walnut shells...good on the environment, doesn't track, the smell is neutralized instantly be it feces or urine, the cats love it.  It is pricey but well worth it because if you don't get around to scooping right away it doesn't matter and you only have to change the litter once a month.  The box stays cleaner because there's no residue.  Purrrrfect for kennels as its cleaner and healthier for the cats.  
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