How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?

Changing litter box for cats
Written by Clair Chesterman

It is important to properly maintain the cleanliness of your cat’s litter box as some cats can sometimes be quite sensitive in terms of using it and some even develop problems in elimination.  Most cat owners change the cat litter once a week at most while others may replace them less frequently every few weeks, although you may choose to do this as often as you think it is necessary. The general rule is to add around 3 to 4 inches of new cat litter after completely removing and throwing out the old ones. 

Please take note that pregnant women should not be tasked to do this chore because this may put them at risk to contract toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a disease that can be caught by being infected with a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii and one way to contract this infection is by being exposed to cat feces that are infected with this disease. 

Please take note that cat litters are not meant to be flushed down the toilet so as to prevent any other complications or contamination and protect the animals and water supply in general. 

Possible Reasons Why Cats Avoid Using Their Litter Box And Eliminate In Other Places

  • Improper litter box management

    • Not cleaning their litter box thoroughly or regularly
    • Not providing enough litter boxes in multiple cat household
    • Litter box size may be too small for your cat
    • Inaccessible litter box
  • Preference or aversion in litter

    • Cats are sensitive in terms of their sense of smell and they get accustomed to the litter they’ve always been using and any changes may affect their usage of the litter box. 
  • Preference or aversion in location

    • Cats may avoid using their litter box if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable where the litter box is placed. 
  • Problems or inability in using the litter box

    • This may happen due to your cat’s physical limitations: due to old age or any physical conditions. 
  • Negative association in a litter box

    • Some cats may have negative experiences in using litter boxes in the past such as something upsetting might have happened to them while using it before and this may cause them to avoid using their new litter box. 
  • Stress in the household environment

    • Any simple changes in the household may affect them in using their litter boxes such as moving to a new house, changing your or their schedules, adding new members in the family or animals. 
  • Multiple cats in a household

    • Not having an adequate amount of litter boxes in a household with multiple cats can cause them to avoid using their litter boxes so it is important to provide enough for them to use. 
  • Medical problems

It is important to keep an eye out for your cats’ health because having unchecked medical conditions may also cause them to avoid using their litter boxes. Such medical conditions may include the following: 

  • Other behavioral problems

    • Urine spraying

How Often Should You Scoop A Litter Box? 

Scooping cat litter box

At best, you should scoop the litter box at least twice a day. However, there are instances where some cat owners might not be able to dedicate this much time therefore once a day is already good enough but make sure to not let it sit for a day or more without scooping them out. Not scooping them out regularly may lead your cats to avoid using their litter box and they may start to eliminate in other parts of your house. 

When scooping the litter out, place the clumps carefully in a secured bag, and throw the bag in your garbage bin. 

How Often Should I Wash And Sanitize The Litter Box?

Some cat owners may wash the litter box at least once a week while others may do this less often, at least once every two weeks. It is highly recommended to use warm water and/or vinegar and a dish soap when cleaning the litter box. It is best to avoid using bleach as it can have a negative interaction with the ammonia in a cat’s urine. 

What You Can Do If Your Cats Eliminate In Places Other Than Their Litter Box

  • Scoop, clean, and change the litter regularly or as often as necessary. 
  • Some cats prefer bigger-sized litter boxes. 
  • Cats may have preference in the type of litter they use: they may prefer the unscented and clumping type. 
  • Some cats do not like lids on their litter box. 
  • Most cats want a quiet environment where they can be safe from possible predators when eliminating, therefore make sure to place their litter box in a corner of your house that can help them feel secure in using it. 
  • It is highly recommended to use self-cleaning automatic litter boxes because such litter boxes can provide a cleaner box for your cats to use more than the regular type. 

About the author

Clair Chesterman

Clair is a professional cat breeder having her own cageless CFA and CCA Registered cattery & fostering company FluffyMeowPaws in Eugene, Oregon. Clair knows everything about multiple cat breeds and how to use the latest technologies to make the cat's life better.

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