As a cat owner, there are certain tasks we complete out of love for our feline companion--but prefer to avoid. One of those tasks is the dreaded cleaning of the litter box. However, staying on top of cleaning your cat's litter box is essential to avoid odor and transmission of cat-to-human diseases. While it will never be a welcome chore, the following tips might make the process less painful.
Try Clumping Litter
A wide variety of cat litter is available, including clumping and non-clumping options. Clumping litter can be a time-saver when cleaning your cat's litter box. It's highly absorbent and designed to create firm clumps when your cat eliminates. This type of litter makes it easy to scoop and remove the waste. Cat owners who use clumping litter find themselves only doing a full litter box clean-out monthly versus weekly since their cat's waste isn't spread around the entire litter box.
Purchase Multiple Litter Boxes
The rule of thumb regarding litter boxes if you own multiple cats is "one litter box per cat, plus one extra." While it sounds like more work to have multiple litter boxes, the opposite is true. All cats in a multi-cat household using the same litter box means you're constantly cleaning it and refreshing the litter. Multiple litter boxes mean you can quickly scoop the waste from each, and they'll all stay fresh for your cats. Also, cats are territorial creatures, and an alpha cat in the home might block other cats from using the litter box. This behavior means your other cats may eliminate elsewhere in the house, leaving you with a litter box and messes to clean up.
Invest in a Self-Cleaning Litter Box
While they're a small investment, you'll avoid the consistent dread of cleaning your cat's litter box if you swap your traditional litter box for a self-cleaning version.
Automatic litter boxes provide the following benefits:
- Disposable trays, eliminating the need to scoop, clean, and refill
- Sensors to detect when to remove waste and when to add litter
- Sifters that run through the litter box pan, leaving you with only emptying the waste tray
The "Cadillac version" of automated litter boxes is the Litter Robot, which features all of the benefits above but accommodates up to four cats and a mobile app to track waste and litter levels.
One of the most troublesome aspects of a litter box is the odor, despite your best efforts to keep it clean. However, there are several odor-eliminating tips to keep the smell at bay. Place baking soda under the litter to keep it fresh, or keep an open box of baking soda nearby to help soak up the odor. Just make sure it's out of your cat's reach. Also, make sure your cat's litter box is the correct size for your cat. A litter box that is too small increases the chances they'll eliminate on the side of the litter box, missing the litter that would have soaked it up. Finally, place your cat's litter box in a well-ventilated area. While it's tempting to tuck it away in the corner of the laundry room, a lack of windows or ventilation means a stronger smell.
When it comes to maintaining your cat's litter box, be mindful of any change in your cat's use of the litter box. If your cat begins to eliminate outside the box, it could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. If this happens, take your cat to your veterinarian. If given a clean bill of health, the change in habit could be a behavioral problem to address quickly. Hill's Pet Nutrition offers insight into why your cat might be eliminating outside the litter box.
Contact your local veterinarian if your cat's litter box habits have changed or if you want to learn more about proper little box maintenance.