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How Often Should We Clean The Litter Box?

Discussion in 'Grooming & General Cat Care' started by Sammiches, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Sammiches

    Sammiches Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    Oct 23, 2017
    I don't mean just dumping out the litter but actually cleaning the whole thing. I scoop twice a day and pour out the remaining litter+scrubbing down the litter box once per month.

    I recently ran into one of Jackson's Galaxy video suggesting that scooping is the most important part, cleaning as in scrubbing the box is more for us than the cat. He mentioned something about cleaning the box once in about 6 months. Suggesting that cats like leaving their scent/territorial mark in the box so us scrubbing it down is not helping the cat.

    Would like an expert opinion but any opinions are welcomed.
    tarasgirl06 and katieloo purraised this.

  2. katieloo

    katieloo TCS Member Young Cat

    Dec 29, 2017
    That's a great question. I would say I am on a similar schedule. Definitely scoop twice a day at least. I'd say I do a full litter change and box clean about once every 6 weeks or so. I feel like the litter gets dusty if I just keep adding to it without a full change. I've heard as often as once a week which seems like a bit much to me.
    maggiedemi purraised this.

  3. kirathecat

    kirathecat TCS Member Adult Cat

    Jun 1, 2016

  4. margd

    margd Chula and Paul's roommate Veteran

    Feb 24, 2015
    Maryland USA
    I do a "hard-reboot" (Tip of the hat to @Mamanyt1953) of Paul and Chula's litter box about every two weeks. I can see Jackson Galaxy's point about scrubbing the box much less often so that cats don't have their scent marking destroyed but I would worry about the bacteria and other pathogens that could be building up in the meantime.

    coli (E.coli) bacteria are associated with cat feces and can cause infections in both cats and humans. Infections in cats are not just found in their digestive systems, they can also be found in their urinary tracts. Cats are prone to enough urinary tract issues already without adding E. coli infections to the mix.

    Toxoplasmosis, caused by parasite Taxoplasma gondii, is also associated with cat feces. Symptoms may be mild for most people but for those with weakened immune systems or for pregnant women, the results can be deadly.

    Roundworms are another potential issue. Cat feces contain both eggs and larvae which can infest humans as well as re-infest cats who have been treated for their presence.

    I'm not an expert by any means but it just seems to me that it is doing cats a favor to clean out their boxes more often if it protects them from diseases. I think the cat who finds his or her litter box suddenly smelling unfamiliar will have no problem marking it again. I've had cats who wait patiently for me to clean the box before jumping in the moment I'm done and making it smell like home again.
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  5. maggiedemi

    maggiedemi TCS Member Top Cat

    Mar 26, 2017
    Upstate NY
    I completely dump the litter once a month, scrub out box with dish soap, put all new litter.
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  6. betsygee

    betsygee Don't believe everything you think. Staff Member Moderator

    Mar 17, 2013
    Monterey, CA, USA
    :yeah: That's what I do, too.
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  7. Willowy

    Willowy TCS Member Top Cat

    Mar 1, 2009
    South Dakota
    Yeah, I scrub the box (with dish soal/vinegar) whenever I dump the litter. There's usually some poop drips/splatters and various other nasties on it. And, unless you bleach the box heavily, it will still retain enough personal odors for the cat to detect anyway.
    jinxybean, CaliCatCharlie and maggiedemi purraised this.

  8. 1CatOverTheLine

    1CatOverTheLine TCS Member Top Cat

    Feb 6, 2017
    margd purraised this.

  9. EmmiTemmi

    EmmiTemmi TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Sep 16, 2017
    I think this thread's a pretty good example of 'ask 10 people and you'll get 10 different answers' :lol:

    Personally I wait about 5-6 weeks to fully empty, clean, and disinfect my two litter boxes. Around week 4 I'll stop topping up the litter and let the levels get pretty low so when I do toss the old litter when I clean, I'm not tossing a ton. Once it's sufficiently low I'll go through my cleaning process. Usually one litter box gets cleaned one day, and a couple days later I'll do the other litter box, just so they have their old smelly litter still in one of the boxes while they break in the new one.
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  10. duckpond

    duckpond TCS Member Top Cat

    Dec 13, 2017
    I have found with the grass litter, and the crystals i use that i am happier if i don't ever top up the box. I fill them, scoop several times a day, and then when they get too low i dump and wash the boxes. With my cats and the litter i use i can go two weeks, normally. I have 4 cats and 5 boxes, right now i have 6 because i am trying the i just found today litter maid walnut litter, had to try it :). I always have 5 or 6 boxes that are clean and dry, so i dump, fill the dry ones, and then wash the dirty ones. Every other weekend.

  11. CaliCatCharlie

    CaliCatCharlie Living FeLV Pawwwsitive! Adult Cat

    Jan 4, 2018
    California Desert
    @maggiedemi This is exactly what I do!

    By the time I read your post, it made me laugh out loud! Thanks!
    EmmiTemmi purraised this.

  12. PushPurrCatPaws

    PushPurrCatPaws TCS Member Top Cat

    May 22, 2015
    This is just a theory, but I think my cat's happier with a cleaner box. :)
    I scoop multiple times a day; every 2-4 weeks, dump the litter and wash the box with dish soap, and renew with all new litter.

  13. Sammiches

    Sammiches Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    Oct 23, 2017
    Looks like practically nobody agrees with Jackson on this one lol. I clean it once a month and it looks like I'll continue to do so.
    foxxycat, Buddies mom, dustydiamond1 and 3 others purraised this.

  14. jcat

    jcat Mo(w)gli's can opener Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 13, 2003
    Mo(w)gli Monster's Lair
    I dump all the (clumping) litter and steamclean the box every 3 - 4 weeks. We do the same at the shelter, and I've never noticed that it disturbs any of the cats. In fact, they tend to choose the freshly cleaned boxes, so I think Jackson Galaxy is wrong on this one.
    Buddies mom, jinxybean, margd and 4 others purraised this.

  15. dustydiamond1

    dustydiamond1 Minion to Gypsy since October 2016 Top Cat

    Jan 24, 2017
    Central Illinois, USA

  16. kashmir64

    kashmir64 TCS Member Top Cat

    Apr 9, 2017
    I have to use non-clumping litter due to an allergy from one of my little ones. So I dump it everyday, rinse or scrub (depending on what it looks like) dry it and add fresh.
    Before that, with my other cats, I dumped and cleaned it once a month.
    jinxybean and duckpond purraised this.

  17. happilyretired

    happilyretired TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Jun 30, 2008
    Upstate New York
    I used to scoop 2x a day with my CRF cats, but my current girl produces less waste, and I scoop it just once a day.

    But I thoroughly wash the box every week--with just very hot water. I completely change the litter only when it begins to look too 'used'--usually about once a month. Otherwise, I just add fresh litter as needed.

  18. rubysmama

    rubysmama Forum Helper Staff Member Forum Helper

    Nov 25, 2013
    I use clumping litter and remove the waste clumps twice a day. Once a week or so, I dump all the remaining litter in an empty plastic litter container, and scrub the litter box with litter box wipes.

    I dry the sides/bottom with paper towels, then I put the old litter back in the litter box, and top up with some fresh litter. I rarely ever throw out all the used litter.

    Between the weekly cleanings, I'll also use the litter wipes to clean up anything that sticks to the sides of the litter box or the scoop. I wear disposable plastic gloves when I do the clean up.
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  19. MoochNNoodles

    MoochNNoodles TCS Member Veteran

    Apr 30, 2005
    Where my cats are
    I've found as long as I keep the box deep enough; I don't have to do it as often. But if it gets low then the bottom and sides get harder to clean so it needs a full clean out sooner. I don't know exactly how often I do it though. I have an extra set of boxes so I can swap them and wait for good weather to do a cleaning outside.
    foxxycat, Buddies mom and lavishsqualor purraised this.

  20. CommonCatOwner

    CommonCatOwner TCS Member Young Cat

    Jan 18, 2018
    I have been wondering about litter box maintenance. Currently I have a 45 gallon storage bin that has been converted into a litter box (complete with air filtration). It contains close to 40lbs of litter (Dr. Elsey's RR) and is used by a single cat. I only scoop it out every few days or so. Roughly once a month I dump the bin and clean it with alcohol/vinegar and then water and light dish soap. It seems like I have been doing things wrong.
    maggiedemi purraised this.

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