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  • Writer's picturePet Waggin' Pet Care Team

How To Keep Your Cat’s Litter Box Clean (& How To Choose The Right Litter Box)

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

How often do you clean your cat’s litter box? Once a day? Twice if it’s extra stinky? Does your cat still look at you like you’re nuts for thinking he’ll use it after you’ve scooped it? Does it still smell a little funky even after you’ve emptied it completely and given it a good scrub?

Cats are notoriously picky when it comes to their litter boxes. Some of them think your job is to scoop it every time they use it. It’s not entirely because they think you’re here to serve them. Their sense of smell is 14 times stronger than ours, which means they can pick odors out of an area we think smells just fine.

To appease your cat and keep the smells at bay, here are some tips for keeping your cat’s litter box fresh. Plus, advice on choosing the right litter and litter box for your cat, home, and lifestyle!

How To Keep Your Clean Litter Box

Choosing The Right Litter

The type of litter you use is the most important part of keeping a clean litter box. It doesn’t make it easier that there are dozens of different litters, with different features, all claiming to be the best. The pressure is on because the wrong litter can lead to your cat going outside of the box… possibly while looking you right in the eye.

cat litter how to keep your cat's litter box clean

There are several types of litter that dominate the market. But with so many options… clay litter, silica gel, pine, wheat, grass, corn, walnut shell, and paper… how do you choose?

Clay litter is the one most of us are familiar with. It comes in clumping and non-clumping varieties. But the other litter options may leave you scratching your head.

The truth is… it all comes down to personal preference and the needs of your household. According to the ASPCA, cats prefer unscented clumping litter with small sand-like particles. There are even studies that suggest cats have strong preferences for clay and silica litters.

When it comes to keeping a litter box clean, clumping litter is the best. Urine forms clumps that are easy to scoop out. Plus, the clumps will help to absorb odors.

But the other options out there, like pine, wheat, and walnut shell, have fan bases all their own. These options are biodegradable and compostable, so they are the more eco friendly selection. In fact, these pellets are not meant to be flushed down the toilet; instead, you can throw them out with the garbage, or better yet, you can add them to your compost. The pellets also tend to be more affordable. And finally, these options can also weigh less, making them a good option for those who may not be able to lift and pour dense clay litters.

Cat to Litter Box Ratio

The general recommendation for litter boxes is one box per cat in the household plus one extra box. So, for example, if you have two cats, you should have three boxes. If you only have one cat, you may be just fine with one box, but that depends on your cat’s potty preferences.

multi-cat litter box

With more than one cat, things get more complicated. Multiple cats sharing boxes can cause fights, one cat might prefer a different box, and you may have a cat who is a litter box hog. Extra boxes keep the peace in a multi-cat household and keep the boxes from getting grungy too fast.

Do You Need A Litter Box Liner?

It might seem more convenient to have a litter box liner. The truth is, they get holes, slip off the corners, and can just be a general pain. The only time a liner is necessary is if you are using a non-clumping litter. The liquids that seep to the bottom will be trapped by the liner instead of soaking into the litter box.

Time to Scoop

To keep cat-approved cleanliness you should scoop your cat’s litter box twice a day if you are using a clumping litter. Make sure you scoop all the way to the bottom to get any hidden clumps. This is easier if you aren’t overfilling the litter box. Three to four inches of litter is plenty.

Scooping isn’t enough to prevent odors from eventually developing. To keep a happy cat, and a good-smelling house, be sure to completely empty the litter box once a week. Soak the box with hot soapy water, using dish soap and not a harsh cleaner. Even after the box has been thoroughly rinsed, the fumes from bleach and other cleaners can be harmful to your cat.

cleaning cat litter box

Clean the area around and under the litter box thoroughly. This means vacuuming or sweeping when scooping, and a rinsing and mopping of any litter box mats when you change the box. Cats aren’t always tidy when they dig in the litter, and sometimes they manage to miss the box. Cleaning the area will keep your cat from claiming the area around the litter box as extra toilet space.

Choosing The Right Litter Box

In today’s world, even litter boxes have become computerized. You might be wondering if your cat is suffering because they don’t have the fanciest litter box on the market.

Don’t worry… you can relax because you don’t need fancy gadgets.

What you do need is a litter box that is at least as long as your cat. If you have a cat that sprays the area around the box, be sure to look for one with walls. Some cats like to be able to see around them, and others prefer privacy, so pay attention to your cat’s behavior to determine if covered or uncovered is best.

Self-cleaning litter boxes are all the rage nowadays. At Pet Waggin’, we have many clients who choose this option. While expensive at first, they tend to do a great job at keeping the area tidy and smell-free.

cat with litter robot how to keep your cat's litter box clean and how to select a box

However, there are several major cons when it comes to a self-cleaning litter box, so please keep these in mind if you’re considering purchasing one.

  • Some cats are so afraid of the raking arm that they stop using the box.

  • Cats have been injured by self-cleaning boxes, even the very expensive “smart” boxes.

  • Although they promise efficiency, they can jam and break.

  • You may not notice changes in your cat’s bathroom routine.

Your cat’s behavior when it comes to using the litter box will tell you a lot. If you have changed litter, purchased a new litter box, and started cleaning it more frequently, and your cat still seems to be having litter box issues, it might be time for a trip to the vet.

Cats are prone to urinary tract problems, and what seems like picky bathroom behavior could be a sign of an infection, crystals, or blockage.

Do you have litter, a litter box, or a routine that you swear by? Don’t forget to ‘share the love’ and let us know all about it in the comments!


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