If you have recently become a cat parent and you want to learn more about how hygienic your pet’s litter box should be, we’re here to give you a hand.
So, how often should you clean your cat’s litter box? There’s only a correct and short answer to this question, and it is this: as often as possible.
How many cats do you have?
If you have just one cat, having one or two litter boxes in your home is perfectly acceptable. The rule changes if you own two cats, though, because they need to be able to use different litter boxes if they feel the need to.
Sharing litter boxes is not healthy, even if your cats are known to do it every once in a while. They can inadvertently pass dangerous microorganisms from one to the other because their genitalia come in contact with the same litter, which contains the bacteria that can be found in both urine and feces.
So, if you have two cats, you should have a minimum of four litter boxes in your house just so that you can know for sure that one’s clean and available and that none of the cats have to refrain from urinating or defecating.
What type of litter are you using?
These days, there is a truly wide variety of litter options available for sale, so you may have some trouble selecting the best one for your needs and your pet’s preferences, too.
But some litters are simply better and also more eco-friendly than others and they come with a lower number of disadvantages. Clumping varieties are always recommended if you want to be able to remove what’s been used by your cat and leave the somewhat clean litter behind.
Clay litter is an excellent example of a clumping type, but the problem with it is that it’s really bad for the environment, your cat accidentally takes some of it on their paws and spreads it on your floors and carpets, and worst of all, your pet can also inhale it.
The rest of the litter types you will come across are somewhat better, including silica gel litter (although it does have its share of cons, too), with the best ones being those made from eco-friendly materials such as walnut, corn, or paper.
The downside of most of these varieties is that they rarely clump. Therefore, you will have to use smaller amounts and replace them entirely once every several days rather than clean the mess and replace them once every 1-2 weeks.
Subsequently, the frequency at which you clean your cat’s litter box also depends on what litter you utilize.
Cleaning or replacing your cat’s litter
There are two main ways of going about things when cleaning your cat’s litter box. Depending on the type of litter you use, you may remove the feces and then leave the rest for your cat to use time and again until you completely change the substrate.
There’s also the option of you leaving the entire bag of litter for your cat to use for one or two weeks and then changing it completely.
So, which one of these methods is better? First of all, it depends on the litter’s absorbency capabilities and whether or not the urine and feces actually have a chance to dry up before your cat uses the box again.
It is generally a good idea to fully replace the litter once a week, whenever you have some time available. Cleaning the clumps and the feces every day or at least once every two days is highly recommended, as you do not want your feline friend to tend to their business in the dirty litter.
Why should you change your cat’s litter often?
First of all, cats use their litter boxes several times a day, and if they have a urinary tract infection, they can do so up to ten times a day or more.
The most important reason why the litter box should be as clean as possible is that otherwise, the cat does indeed risk becoming sick. This is, of course, more common in the case of female pets, as their nether region closely comes in contact with the litter when they defecate or urinate.
Even male cats can develop various pathologies, although they might have been neutered.
When humans use the bathroom, they flush, and that’s because even the simple idea of using an unclean toilet puts them off. The same can happen to cats in that they can inhibit their reflexes and ‘hold it’ in for too long.
As such, they can become constipated or develop infections or other urinary pathologies just because they do not want to use a dirty litter box.
Should you replace your cat’s litter box?
The answer to this question depends on when you bought it and for how long your cat has been using it. Some litter boxes come with separate grills and pans that can collect some of the waste, but these models are also more expensive.
The truth is that regardless of the type of box you invest in since most are made of plastic these days, they have to be replaced once every six months or so. Your cat inflicts some damage on the material, even if it’s barely visible.
So, as thorough as you might be when cleaning your pet’s litter box, those cracks can still retain some microorganisms – some of which can be pathogenic, so they can lead to an infection.
How to get rid of used litter
Some cat litters are now marketed as being flushable, so you might be able to use your toilet to dispose of them. But generally, that is not something that you might want to do. For one, some types of litter can lead to serious plumbing issues in your home or in your neighborhood.
Secondly, when you dispose of your cat’s feces in the public water system, that means that you might be creating a health hazard indirectly without you even wanting to. Even if that doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason, the issues that the litter could cause to your plumbing should be a convincing one.