Cats won't allow litter to clump

carnivalnights

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I have two cats, brothers, and they both have very strange litter habits. They were strays so maybe that's why. They are almost 2 years old.

They take a while to find a spot to "go." Lots of digging and turning around. It took me a while to put two and two together and understand why my litter wasn't clumping and why the smell of ammonia was so bad and so strong all the time. After they are done, they sometimes spend upwards of 10 minutes in the box scraping and covering and scraping some more. Like the urine and/or feces is long covered but they just keep digging around and covering and scraping. The problem is that this breaks up all the urine and turns it into wet sand and distributes it among the other litter. I can no longer lift it out woth the scooper and it makes the litter box smell so, so bad.

I work full time so I cannot always just "shoo" them away when they are doing all this scraping to try and discourage it. Am I just SOL here? I feel like breathing in all that ammonia is bad for all of us and does not make for a very healthy litter box. The only thing I can do is a full change (where I dump all the litter out and put fresh litter in) more often.
 

ArtNJ

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Hmmm. A lot of us have had diggers. Its not uncommon for cats to do this, as annoying as it is. But I've never had or heard of a problem with clumping litter. It could be yours are at a whole nother level, all cats are different. However, makes me wonder, are you using a big name brand of clumping litter or a bargain brand?

Beyond that, I think its just the usual kind of thing, making sure you have enough boxes, they are clean enough, they are big enough, do they not like covered boxes, that sort of thing. The middle link is more thorough and includes some more exotic causes (behavioral & medical) but I think for most cats its mainly the normal litter box issues. Although if your two are at a whole nother level, it may be wise to consider the more exotic causes - just rule out the garden variety ones first.

Why Is My Cat Scratching The Litter Box?
How To Deal With Cat Digging Excessively In Litter Box
AAAGGGHH Stop it! (Excessive litter box digging)

Tell us about your litter boxes, how often you clean them, what litter you use, all that stuff, if you like. We'll likely be a bit annoying and recommend adding more boxes or other changes, but if it fixes your problem it will be well worth it, yes?
 
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rubysmama

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carnivalnights

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Thanks for responding! I do use a "bargain brand" from Costco. I actually thought it was just this little going downhill at first - it still could be. I just assumed it was the cats' excessive digging because the clumping did seem to work previously. I also sometimes use another multi-cat clumping litter from Canadian Tire, also not an expensive one that is basically very much like the Costco one and it seems to be doing the same thing. That is why I sort of figured it must be the cats and not the litter.

The litter box is fairly large (17x22x11), uncovered, and I cannot fit anything larger in my small bathroom. I live in an apartment. I did have another litter box in here but I found they were not using it much and for the little floor space I had left, it did not seem to be worth the struggle. I've had the same once since I got them a year ago. I've also been using the same litter since I got them a year ago.

I change the litter once before work and once before bed, currently. Since I cannot even remove the urine anymore, it almost doesn't seem to matter now. 😔

Since they both do this and have sonce day one, I really do not think it is a medical issue. I even asked the vet about it and they said it was normal. Watson was treated for parasites many months ago and cured and Sherlock was also treated as a precaution. However, their digging and scraping and covering has been the same since I got them. They've always been excessive with it.
 
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carnivalnights

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I notice they really dislike not having enough litter in the box (like they would turn around and come back out and refuse to use the box, lol). They like having a lot. So I usually put a couple inches in for them.

I've never used a non-clumping litter either but that is basically what I'm doing now and it reeks. Like choking on ammonia reeks. I'm not sure I want to go that route if it can be avoided. But I will do whatever I can to fix this issue...

I just hope it does not come to dumping and changing every day because I'm genuinely not sure I can afford that. 😔
 
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carnivalnights

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If anyone wants to know the name of the litter: Purrfect Start Multi-Cat Clumping Litter (Unscented)
 

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Willowy

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Are they neutered? As long as they cover, there shouldn't be an ammonia odor.

So, yeah, if they are neutered, try a different litter, see if that helps.
 

rubysmama

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I notice they really dislike not having enough litter in the box (like they would turn around and come back out and refuse to use the box, lol). They like having a lot. So I usually put a couple inches in for them.
Maybe try putting more litter. Here's an excerpt from the TCS article The 10 Most Common Litterbox Mistakes Cat Owners Make

7. There isn’t enough litter in the box.
Make sure the box contains an even layer of 3-5 inches of litter. Some cats prefer a deeper layer while others a shallower one, so watch your cat’s behavior in the litter box. If he seems to be digging his way to Antarctica, try putting in just a little less litter next time, as your cat may actually like to feel that he’s hitting the bottom of the box.
 
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carnivalnights

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This is the one I use from Canadian Tire: https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/clumping-cat-litter-22-kg-1421989p.html#srp

I use this 80% of the time. I find it dusty but up until recently I found it clumped fine. Same with the other one.

Yes, they are both neutered.

I think the odour is coming from the urine being distributed all over the box and just sitting there since I cannot scoop it out. It gets distributed with the other litter from them digging since it does not clump and then it starts to smell. I may be misspeaking and it is just strong urine smell, in general!

I'm going to try putting even more litter in then, thanks! If that does not work over the next week, I will try a different litter.

The thing I just do not get is that both of these litters DID seem to clump just fine before. They have been a bit dusty for my liking ut they were good at clumping still. I have no idea what changed! I did not have this issue a few months ago. I'm just baffled.
 

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It might be the litter, some suck at getting rid of the smell. Are your cats fed dry only, wet or a mix a both? Cats who are fed only dry are chronically dehydrated and the lack of hydration is what causes really pungent smelling pee. (basically its the same as in people). Cats who have a uti it will also smell more stronger. I use okocat and arm and hammer clump and seal, the arm and hammer one is better for the smell, the okocat is better in that it doesnt get stuck in their fur (3 longhairs lol). No name brands like that do not tend to be good to be honest. I would recommend trying better brands. And feeding more wet food if you are not.
 

Caspers Human

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Buying cheap cat litter might end up being a false economy.

You might save money in the short term but end up changing it more frequently or using more of it to get the same results. In the long run, you just end up spending more but feel less satisfied.

I also agree that the manufacturer who makes your cat litter might be changing to a cheaper formula, resulting in poorer performance.

I suggest trying a name brand like “Fresh Step” or similar to see whether it works any better.

Even if it is more expensive, if you use less of it and/or it lasts longer, you’ll probably save money in the long run.

If you get the “multi-cat” version of a good, name brand, your nose will probably appreciate it, too! ;)
 
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carnivalnights

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They get a good balance of wet and dry and their coats are quite lovely, they don't seem dehydrated. But that's interesting - I did not know that! Good to know for future.

I was saying above, despite these two litters being more bargain brands, I never used to have an issue with them clumping before which is what I find so odd. It took me a while to try and figure out why all of a sudden the litter was not clumping anymore. I even used this litter with my previous cats who never, ever dug excessively like this and it was perfectly fine. So this has been my only conclusion. 🤷‍♀️ So first I will try more litter like the others have suggested and if not that, a different litter.

It might be the litter, some suck at getting rid of the smell. Are your cats fed dry only, wet or a mix a both? Cats who are fed only dry are chronically dehydrated and the lack of hydration is what causes really pungent smelling pee. (basically its the same as in people). Cats who have a uti it will also smell more stronger. I use okocat and arm and hammer clump and seal, the arm and hammer one is better for the smell, the okocat is better in that it doesnt get stuck in their fur (3 longhairs lol). No name brands like that do not tend to be good to be honest. I would recommend trying better brands. And feeding more wet food if you are not.
 
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carnivalnights

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I think there are some cheaper litters that work well and some that do not. And by the same token, there are plenty of more expensive litters that are horrible too. With my previous cats I thought more expensive meant better but learned that is definitely not the case. So it is definitely trial and error. I did used one of these litters with my previous cats and all was well, but tbey also were not diggers. So this will take some more experimenting now. 😅

It is definitely possible the manufacturer did something because I'm not really sure why the litter would work and now it doesn't... unless my cats have ramped up their digging. Either way, it no longer works for us!

I have used Fresh Step before. I will give that one a go again. And someone else recommended A&H.

Thanks for your input!

Buying cheap cat litter might end up being a false economy.

You might save money in the short term but end up changing it more frequently or using more of it to get the same results. In the long run, you just end up spending more but feel less satisfied.

I also agree that the manufacturer who makes your cat litter might be changing to a cheaper formula, resulting in poorer performance.

I suggest trying a name brand like “Fresh Step” or similar to see whether it works any better.

Even if it is more expensive, if you use less of it and/or it lasts longer, you’ll probably save money in the long run.

If you get the “multi-cat” version of a good, name brand, your nose will probably appreciate it, too! ;)
 

danteshuman

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Might I suggest a large storage tub (preferably with a smooth bottom) has an extra litter box (to see if it helps with the digging.)
9B65DE81-8F5F-4EF1-9890-42F62FD0E9F2.jpeg
I use tidy cat lightweight & used to use arm & hammer clumping. I would recomend both. I bought unscented both times. The only complaint I have about Gifu cat lightweight is that it is dusty BUT I have difficulty lifting/hauling those 49 pound containers around So I buy the lightweight! I’m a neurotic scooper that goes after every little clump every day and I never completely replace my litter! I may replace the litter because I want to scrub his box (Something I so about once a year honestly.) his boxes don’t get dirty. Yes my one cat has two boxes and he uses both of them. He pees in one, walks over the high walls and poops in the other! 🤣 EA582C70-C2AD-49CD-B261-2169DC3C71A9.jpeg This kind of box works for your average kicker but Nick just sends the litter flying!

You need at least 3 large litter boxes for 2 cats. The tub works great for Nick .... an epic litter kicker! I suspect it is your brand. My mom bought some cheap clumping litter and it was awful! She switched to tidy cat lightweight. She may have got it from Costco.
 
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carnivalnights

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I live in a small apartment and definitely do not have room for 3 litter boxes. 😂 But I can squeeze another small one in if necessary - if none of the other above suggestions work out. My litter box actually has very high sides like yours. If it didn't, I would have a huuuuuge mess too! Haha. Coincidentally, even before I knew these guys were diggers, this was the litter box I had bought to prevent mess. Luckily it all worked out!

Other people here have also suggested A&H and Tidy Cat so I will check them out! Thanks! 😊

So funny that Nick has separate boxes for pee and poop! What a lucky, spoiled boy. 😉


Might I suggest a large storage tub (preferably with a smooth bottom) has an extra litter box (to see if it helps with the digging.)
View attachment 337791
I use tidy cat lightweight & used to use arm & hammer clumping. I would recomend both. I bought unscented both times. The only complaint I have about Gifu cat lightweight is that it is dusty BUT I have difficulty lifting/hauling those 49 pound containers around So I buy the lightweight! I’m a neurotic scooper that goes after every little clump every day and I never completely replace my litter! I may replace the litter because I want to scrub his box (Something I so about once a year honestly.) his boxes don’t get dirty. Yes my one cat has two boxes and he uses both of them. He pees in one, walks over the high walls and poops in the other! 🤣View attachment 337792This kind of box works for your average kicker but Nick just sends the litter flying!

You need at least 3 large litter boxes for 2 cats. The tub works great for Nick .... an epic litter kicker! I suspect it is your brand. My mom bought some cheap clumping litter and it was awful! She switched to tidy cat lightweight. She may have got it from Costco.
 

IndyJones

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I have had bad experience with tidy cats lightweight litter. It left a film of dust on everything and stained my water heater and washing machine. It formed a sludge that my cats would track all across my house and sofas. Worst of all, poor Indy was having asthma attacks several times a week.

As soon as I switched to arm and hammer her attacks stopped and no more sludge tracking or dust clouds. I am unable to remove the stains from the water heater though.
 

Caspers Human

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I wasn't suggesting the use of any particular brand litter.

Just suggesting that there are other things to consider like how well the litter clumps, how long it lasts and how well it controls odor in comparison to the price. A higher price to purchase might be the better deal if the stuff lasts longer because you will spend less money in the long run.

It might be worth it if you tried a few different brands to see which one gives you the right balance of cost and effectiveness. :)
 
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carnivalnights

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I find all litters disgustingly dusty. "Dust Free" claims on the bags/boxes are all lies! I actually have a respiratory issue so it worries me to be using (not using but cleaning) practically any litter. But it doesn't matter which I've used and what the price point is -- they're all bad for dust. It sticks to my bathroom paint, which is teal, and makes it white; it also covers a little shelf I have above the litter box in a white film after just a day; I constantly have to wipe it down. It's really gross. I wish a company would truly make a dust-free or at least 90% dust-free litter. I'm sure it is equally as bad for cats as it is for humans to be breathing that in all the time.
 

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How about crystal litter? Have you looked into it yet? The whole idea is that the crystals soak up the urine and do not need to be removed until you dump the entire litterbox. You actually need to stir it every day to distribute the fluids evenly so it can soak it up properly. With your boys you might not even have to do that because they would do it for you … like an automatic litterbox :cool:
 
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