A common question for cat owners is how often should you change the litter. The answer to this question depends on how many cats are in your household, how quickly they go through their litter, and how big the box is that you use. If you have one cat who goes through her litter slowly or if you have a large box, then it may be necessary to only change the litter once every couple of weeks, even better if you can get to it every week. However, if there are several cats using a small box with little room for waste materials to fall into, then it may need changing twice per day!
What Is Cat Litter
Manufacturers have made major advancements in how they create cat litter. It used to be that people could only choose between clumping or non-clumping litters, but now there are many different types of materials being produced for felines. For example, you can find silica gel cat litter which is highly absorbent and helps to control odor well. You can also use special crystal forms of sodium bentonite clay instead if your kitty doesn't care for the feel of a granular material under her paws! Some brands even produce scented sand so that it smells more pleasant when she uses the box. But let's focus on the basic types first.
Clumping Clay Litter
This type of cat litter is one of the most common type on the market today. It's made from bentonite clay which has been heated until it becomes soft and then formed into granules or pellets for use in kitty boxes. These are very absorbent materials that allow liquid to seep inside quickly so that they can be absorbed by your feline's paws. However, it is not the most pleasant material to have below your cat's feet because she may end up with wet fur when using this type of litter box which can lead to unpleasant odors over time. As you scoop out this material, any solid pieces will get caught on top of each other so that they can be removed from the box with ease. This is honestly the best type of litter to use, especially for frequent users. if you need to clean the litter box this makes life easy.
Non Clumping Litter
If your feline tends to use her litter box only when she's ready and not very often throughout the day then these types may work well for you too. With non-clumping litters there are no chemicals used during manufacturing which means that they are completely organic and safe for your cat. The downside is that they won't clump together so during your litter box cleaning all of the waste materials will be mixed together in one place which can make it harder to clean up.
So now that we know the main differences between the two primary types of cat litter we can discuss the other major variable that will determine how often to change cat litter, and that is how many cats you have.
How Often Should A Litter Box Be Cleaned For One Cat?
If you have one cat that needs to use the litter box, one litter box should be enough. Many people recommend scooping out waste once per day and then completely changing the entire contents of the box every two weeks. This is how long some types of clumping cat litter can last for but if yours seems to "bunch up" more quickly than that you may want to clean it sooner.
How Often To Change Cat Litter For Multiple Cats?
When there are several cats using one small or medium-sized box how often should you change your cat's litter box? In this case, most experts will tell you that it's necessary to change them least twice per day. The reason for this is that if you have a box with small or no room to fall into, the only way to make it work properly will be by changing out all of the contents frequently and minimizing cat drama. Cat's really don't like sharing litter with other cats, so changing the litter frequently can reduce the amount of dirty litter available and make the cats feel like they have clean litter when they do their business.
What If I Can't Change The Litter Box Every Day?
If your schedule does not allow you enough time per day then how often should cat litter be changed? In these cases most people choose to go ahead and use clumping litters because they are designed so well at trapping waste products and urine inside. These tend to last longer than their non-clumping counterparts which means less frequent changes as long as there is sufficient space in the pan!
Another fantastic option for those that can't change the litter box every day is a litter robot, or automatic cat litter box, that will clean the litter for you.
A cheaper solution to that is to use multiple litter boxes! This can reduce how much time you spend cleaning the litter and providing the cats with cleaner boxes, which all cats like.
Build A Routine For Changing Your Cats Litter
Now that you know how often to change cat litter based on the number of cats in your household and how often they use their boxes, you need to build a routine around cleaning your cats litter box or boxes. This makes it easier for both you and them. Cats are routine animals so they will adapt to the schedule you create.
Another amazing benefit of using a routine is that you get used to how much feces your cat omits in a day. If you sporadically clean the litter boxes you won't know if they are facing some sort of issue, as it could be harder to recall when it was last cleaned, and you may end up unaware that there's an issue.
Once they are in routine you will know what a normal output is verse when you have an issue. This will allow you to take the proper next steps quickly rather than waiting until things are worse. There's a lot of issues you can find based on how your cats feces looks. It's important to pay attention to it while you are cleaning.
I like to clean our cats litter boxes first thing in the morning. Doing this in the morning helps me to feel relief that I won't come home to a mess right after work. I prefer the morning because it's the part of the day I have the most control over. I know I will be home and I can schedule that time for myself, whereas, in the evenings, we could be out to dinner or getting drinks somewhere, going to the movies, etc.
You should build your routine around you and your household.
Outside of scooping the cat litter you need to be cleaning the box and replace all of the litter as well. As stated above, two weeks is a good time frame before you need to change out all of the litter.
Whenever scooping out cat litter I like to refill it a bit to keep a healthy level. When the litter supply goes dry is when I like to change out all of the litter and clean the box. First I like to let it get lower so there's less work for me.
How To Change Cat Litter And Clean The Box
When the time comes to change the litter and clean the box I first clean any clumps in the box. Then I simply pour the rest of the litter into a big bag.
Next I bring the litter box into the bath tub for a more thorough cleaning. A quick rinse with warm water should get rid of a lot of the additional clumps. Next I use a classic recipe for all cleaning needs called baking soda and vinegar. I'll pour a heap of baking soda into the box and a few splashes of vinegar. The mixture will sizzle a bit. Then I'll add in some additional hot water and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing the box and rinsing it out.
Take note of using natural cleaning ingredients. You don't want bleach in here. God forbid you don't dry it properly and your cats end up licking the bleach for whatever reason. It's not worth the risk. Use natural ingredients only. If you want to use soap for the wash, make sure it's safe for cats. And be sure to dry the litter box thoroughly. If you are using clumping litter and the box is damp, you are going to waste litter when you refill.
Next step is pretty obvious. Add new litter into the box and let the cats do their inspection. They always do, at least in our house.
Tips To Keep Things Fresh
Quite frankly, cat litter is gross. It's an unpleasant aspect of cat ownership that we have to deal with. If you haven't bought in to the automatic litter boxes and are sticking to the classic ways I applaud you. Here's some tips to keep things fresh and minimize the smell in your household.
Keep The Litter Full
First tip is to keep ample litter in your box. Once the litter amount gets low things get messy quick! Keeping a good 3 - 4 inches of litter in your box is key to making sure you don't have to be scraping the floors of the box every day. That's just good maintenance.
Stick To Your Routine
Keeping your cleaning routine is key for managing the cleanup. You will get used to a certain amount that is bearable based on your cats output. Once you break that routine you may end up spending a lot of extra time cleaning up.
Build Barriers For Extra Litter
Cats love to kick litter around. We went ahead and build a custom box for this very reason. It's set up in a way that minimizes the amount of litter spilling out onto the floor. We've outfitted it with mats to further alleviate the litter mess. A simple solution is to get a rubber litter mat and place it directly outside of the litter box. Get rubber so you can clean it!
What is there to do really? They have to go somewhere. Outside of cleaning your litter daily, a cat litter box just seems like something that's always going to smell bad.