How often should you clean your cat’s litter?

Out in the wild, cats will bury their eliminations to help prevent other predatory animals from finding them and to reduce the chances they’ll scare off potential prey. While they’re in your house, a litter box has to do.
Keeping your litter box clean helps encourage your cats to use it and not other areas of your house while also cutting down on grime and odors. Ideally, you’d clean it out each time your cat goes to the bathroom, but in the real world, that isn’t quite realistic.

So how often should you clean cat litter? The answer depends on a variety of factors. Let’s take a look at what goes into keeping your litter box clean and how to build the right plan that balances your cat’s needs with your own.

Orange cat in pink litter box
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How many cats do you have?

Ideally, you’d have at least one litter box per cat in your household and an extra one to be on the safe side. If you can manage that, you’ll have the best chance of ensuring that your cats always have a litter box to use that’s clean and fresh.
With today’s busy lifestyles, that may not be possible. If you have a single cat, your life is a bit easier, but once you introduce multiple cats, you’ll need to stay on top of your litter.
Most cats won’t use the litter box if they feel it’s “full.” Your cat’s tolerance will depend on its unique preferences. For many cats, you should scoop at least every other day to keep the box clean.

Multiple cats could require cleaning more often. Some cats won’t have the tolerance for using a box at all if another cat has already used it. Some cats will tolerate other cats using the box once or twice.
If you have only one litter box for multiple cats, this could have you scooping multiple times a day to keep fresh. If that isn’t realistic for you, investing in more than one litter box could help or purchasing a litter box that rakes through litter automatically.

What kind of litter do you have?

Different types of litters will change how you clean your box as well. If your cat prefers a non-clumping clay litter with no fragrance, you’ll have to clean it out a lot more often than you would with a clumping litter that includes a fresh odor option.
If you use a paper-based litter or something like pine, you’ll have to figure out how to balance your cat’s cleaning needs with your own. Also, the type of litter can help you find a balance between cleaning and your time.

If you have multiple cats, a clumping litter with added freshness can help you stretch your litter box between complete changes. A pine, pellet-style litter could help cut down on odors more naturally for cats who don’t like artificial odors such as those found in clay litters.

What do your cats want?

This is one of the most essential pieces to figuring out how often to scoop. If your cats aren’t using the litter box, scoop more often (even after each time they go) to find out the threshold for their preference.
You can experiment with the timing and the litter to find the ideal combination of litter and cleaning. Your cat or cats will give you valuable clues for how to treat their litter boxes to help you stay on top of cleaning without following your cats around 24/7.

If you decide to change litters, don’t do it all at once. Mix a bit of old litter with the new litter to help the transition go more smoothly. Your cat may accept the new litter if the change isn’t sudden. If your cat still hates it, it’s best to continue with your cat’s preferences.

Managing your cat’s litter box

Cat in white litter box
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How often should a litter box be cleaned? The answer depends on a variety of factors that start with your cat’s own preferences. It’s always best to allow your cat to take the lead because a grumpy cat is more likely to go in the wrong places of your house, leading to more problems than just a smelly litter box.
Once you’ve figured out your cat’s preferences, stay consistent to ensure your cat continues to use the litter box properly. This is not an area to experiment unless you’re willing to accept the consequences or you have a naturally easygoing cat.

You can balance your cat’s needs with your own and still have a house that smells fresh. Choose the right litter and give multiple cats the space they need. You could find that your litter box efforts are rewarded. Keep those boxes clean and get back to enjoying your cat!

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