How Often to Clean a Litter Box
First and most importantly we will go over the “golden rule” of the appropriate number of litter boxes in your house. The magical formula is this: “one more litter boxes than then number of cats in your house.” That means if you have 2 cats in your household, you should ideally have 3 litter boxes.
Now moving on to how often these boxes should be cleaned. Cats are fastidiously clean creatures. They are constantly grooming and cleaning themselves, they hate being dirty! Therefore a dirty litter box will not be appreciated. A basic rule is to clean litter boxes daily. We understand that cleaning them daily can be quite the task and not always realistic. If you cannot clean them daily, you should definitely be scooping them daily or every other day. This of course depends on the number of cats you have. The more cats you have, the more frequently the boxes should be changed or scooped. We know it can be a dirty and hard job, but your cats will appreciate it!
If you notice your cat scratching outside the litter box instead of inside, it’s their way of telling you that the litter box is disgusting and they don’t want to get their feet dirty while doing their business. If you just cleaned the litter box and they are still doing it, it’s likely from a bad memory of getting soaked or dirty while in the box, so unless you want a pet that poops in random places, get in there and scoop. This is also where having multiple litter boxes (options) comes into play, if they have a bad memory in one box, there are other boxes that they can go to instead of your clothes.
Some cats will “hold it” and urinate as infrequently as possible to avoid stepping into a dirty, filthy, full litter box. Instead of urinating two to three times a day, your cat will tighten up and only go once a day. This makes their urine get more concentrated and could make crystals and urine debris plug up and cause them to get a life-threatening obstruction, this is true for male cats. With urinary obstructions, cats may have stones, crystals, or mucous plugs in their urethra that prevent them from being able to urinate. Not only is this painful, but it can also lead to temporary kidney failure, electrolyte abnormalities, vomiting, lethargy, cardiac arrhythmias, and death. So to help prevent problems like this or even diseases like feline lower urinary tract disease or sterile cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), scoop!
You can also detect medical issues early if scooping frequently. If your cat isn’t urinating, you’ll notice when there’s no urine in the litter box for two days. If your cat becomes a diabetic, they may be making larger and larger clumps. If your cat is acting constipated or having diarrhea, you won’t find out until days later if not scooping enough.
So, how do you scoop? This may sound silly, but thought it would be a good refresher for all our cat owners. It is a great idea to empty our your litter boxes and bleach them our a few times a year, just to make sure they have the sparkle clean to them. Use clumping litter if you’re not sure what your cat prefers, since studies have shown that cats prefer this type of litter the best. Next, keep an empty container (e.g., a 5 pound bucket that used to contain kitty litter), line it with a plastic bag, and use a scoop to scoop out the urine clumps and feces every day. Dump the clumps directly into the empty container, and voila: you just have to dump the plastic bag once a week. It makes it easy to scoop, contains the smell in the empty bucket, and saves a few plastic bags while making it more convenient to scoop. As the kitty litter box becomes emptier, just add in clean clumping kitty litter. No need to dump out precious, expensive, eco-unfriendly full boxes when cleaning – just scoop out the dirty and add in clean.
Any questions please call the Village Veterinary Clinic of Hamburg, 716-646-4023