Litter is expensive. But it’s also a necessity when caring for our indoor feline friends. Luckily there are a handful of things you can do (or don’t do) to make your cat’s litter last longer and to make her litter box a more comfortable place so she won’t avoid it.
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#1 – Don’t Shake When Scooping
When scooping the litter box, most of us are in the habit of giving the scoop a little shake to release the unclumped litter from the scoop. Our reasoning is that this step helps us save litter by not tossing out bits of litter that haven’t been soiled. Unfortunately, shaking excess litter from the scoop actually does the opposite. You see, when you shake the scoop, bits are dislodged from the clumped litter and tumble back into the box along with the unsoiled litter. The clumped bits won’t be able to clump again or absorb any more liquid or odors– their only purpose will be to make the litter box messy and smelly and will ultimately require a full litter change more often. Throwing away the excess unclumped litter on the scoop will actually help extend the life of the litter left in the box.
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#2 – Have One Box Per Cat, Plus One More
The general consensus amongst cat behaviorists and veterinarians is that a cat’s home should have one litter box per cat, plus one extra. So a home with two cats should have three litter boxes and a home that has six cats should have seven litter boxes. There are several reasons to have multiple litter boxes.
- Cats are very sensitive to smells– far more sensitive than you are. Multiple boxes will disperse the smells to several different locations rather than clumping (excuse the pun) them all together. You should still be scooping all of the boxes daily though.
- If you have a large home (or even if your home is small but has several floors), having litter boxes in several locations will make sure your cat will always be able to find one quickly and easily when she needs to go. This can help a lot with accidents, especially if a cat is elderly or has mobility challenges.
- Cats are territorial. In multi-cat homes, territorial battles are almost always happening, even if they are too subtle for you to notice. When you put several litter boxes in different locations throughout you’re home you’re giving a shyer cat a chance to use it without being bullied by a more dominant cat who may be guarding or blocking one.
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#3 – Control Odors With Baking Soda
Instead of using a highly scented litter (which could overwhelm your cat’s sensitive nose), choose an unscented version and sprinkle some baking soda into the box after each scooping. You can also keep an open box of baking soda in the litter box rooms to absorb odors.
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#4 – Scoop Daily
Scooping the litter box daily is only fair to your cat. One of the best ways to encourage your cat to do her business inside the litter box instead of, say, the floor, is to make sure the box is as clean, fresh, and accessible as possible.
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#5 – Change Litter Regularly
It’s not enough just to scoop the litter box. Every now and then you will need to do a full litter change and give the box a good scrub with some hot, soapy water. Scoopable litter should get a full change once per month and non-clumping litter should get completely switched out once per week.
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#6 – Fill Box with the Right Amount of Litter
Cats need to be able to dig around in their box and cover their waste. If there’s not enough litter, your cat may find a less desirable place to leave you a surprise. If there’s too much litter, however, she may end up kicking a substantial amount out of the box, leaving a wasteful mess. According to most litter companies, the magic number to keep your cat happy is between 2-4 inches of litter in the box.
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#7 – Use the Right Sized Litter Box
In order to avoid any over-the-side messes, your cat’s litter box should be big enough for her to comfortably turn around in without her booty hanging over the edge. When it comes to her litter box, you should be striving to make it an easy and pleasurable experience, not a contortionist act.