Cat Litterbox Hygiene Essentials

Cat litterbox hygiene is one of the most important parts of cat ownership. Cats with clean litterboxes are more likely to use them, and cat owners who maintain the boxes don’t have to deal with the unpleasant odors associated with a dirty litterbox.

Pay Attention to Your Cat’s Habits

Knowing your cat’s litterbox habits can make cleaning up after her easier. Does your cat have a single litterbox, or does she urinate in one box and defecate in another? If your cat uses one box for everything, you may need to be extra vigilant in your cleanup chores, because a cat’s sense of smell is very sensitive. If the box smells unclean to your cat, she probably won’t use it, which will mean extra work for you as you clean and disinfect her newly chosen bathroom spot.

Tools You Will Use

A couple of simple tools will aid your litterbox cleaning efforts. One of the most important is a slotted metal or plastic scoop that you use to sift solids out of the litterbox.

Another handy tool is a metal putty knife, which you can use to remove stuck-on solids or litter clumps.

Daily Litterbox Maintenance

Daily litterbox cleaning is essential for your cat’s health and well-being. If you use a clumping litter, a daily cleanout of the box will allow you to remove the solid clumps before they dry and your cat scratches them back into the litter again. It’s more difficult to keep a litterbox filled with clumping litter clean if the clumps break down, and a dirty litterbox is more likely to become a breeding ground for bacteria and less likely to be used by your cat.

After you remove the litter clumps, pour a small amount of clean litter into the box. Daily refills means you won’t need to completely refill the box as often, but you should conduct a more thorough weekly cleaning of the litterbox.

If you use a traditional clay litter, you’ll still need to remove the solid waste each day. Add more litter if your cat scratches it out of the box, and clean the box completely each week.

If you use a self-cleaning litterbox, you’ll still need to maintain it every other day or so. Check the receptacle that holds the solids that have been scooped out of the litter, and empty it as needed. Refer to the operating instructions for more details.

Weekly Litterbox Maintenance

Weekly litterbox cleanings involve a bit more work than a daily scooping out and the topping off of the litter. You’ll need to empty the box completely and wash it in warm water with a mild soap. Some owners add a little vinegar to help fight litterbox odor, but not all cats like the smell. Scrub the litterbox thoroughly and rinse it completely with clean water. Dry it, then refill the box with a few inches of fresh litter.