Ask A Vet: How Often Should I Really Clean My Cat’s Litter Box?


Cats are fastidious creatures who use their waste to send territorial messages to rival cats. They can develop aversions to an area that is not kept clean and odor free.  Let’s face it, we don’t want to clean up cat poop anymore than is absolutely necessary! So how clean is “clean enough”?

It depends on the individual cat to a degree. Some cats really do not seem to care about a clean box and some cats will not use a box that is even a little soiled. But since there is no such thing as a cat that truly prefers a dirty box, keeping it very clean is a good idea. Not many cats like the noise and automation of the self-cleaning boxes, but these gadgets can make this job much more regimented. A few cats can be trained to use a toilet, so definitely the individual personality of the cat is a large factor!

The type of litter can also influence how often is enough to keep a picky cat happy about using her box. Clumping litter is easy to clean, but seldom are all remnants removed with the clumps, so you will need to strip the box down and replace the litter frequently. A general rule is Scoop daily, Strip weekly for clumping litter.  Clay and pine litter will require no scooping, but need a daily dump out and weekly scrub.

The type and age of the litter box itself can affect the cleaning regimen.  Older, softer plastics can take on odors and require more frequent dumping and washing.  Dedicate a scrub brush just for the litter box job and use a mild detergent without a strong fragrance and rinse thoroughly. Replace the box completely if it is scratched because even small scratches can trap odors that are offensive to careful cats.

If you can create a habit out of litter care, your cat will thank you by choosing to keep it all in the box!

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