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Oh Poop! Why You Need to Clean Your Cat's Litter Box

By PetcoLori on Jun. 24, 2017

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If you have a cat, you have a cat litter box. There are a number of varieties that range from basic to quite fancy, but no matter how you dress it up (or down) the requirements are the same: they must be clean and they must contain cat litter.

Reality is that you probably don't think about the cat litter box much unless A: it's dirty; B: you've selected a tragically terrible scented cat litter or C: your cat has quit using it.

Unlike you, your cat thinks about the cat litter box a lot. Cats, by nature, are finicky (stop me if you don't know this already), and have a perplexing propensity for peculiar bathroom habits. If you've brought home a new cat or kitten or have multiple cats, you know how tricky it can be to find a litter that everyone will use. Add in your own needs, like the ability to eliminate (or significantly reduce) odor, reduce cat sand tracking through your house and stand up to heavy use (for those of us with multiple feline friends) and you can quickly see that selecting the perfect cat litter is not as simple as "pick a brand and go."

There's another important reason to give your cat litter more than glancing consideration: your cat's health. You can keep tabs on your cat's health by keeping tabs on her litter box (would that be called "sCATology"?) And, having good hygiene practices in place will go a long way to protecting you and your other feline friends healthy and happy.

So what could be lurking in your cat's litter box? If you have an exclusively indoor kitty or if you haven't added any new cat friends, you are not going to suddenly see worms or other issues. However, if you've added a new cat friend or your cat also is an outdoor adventurer, you may be surprised (or not) to know that your litter box serve as host to a variety of bacteria and/or parasites:

  • Bacteria: Think E. coli or salmonella. If your cat eats tainted food, or if your cat's food has been recalled, be sure to change the litter.
  • Parasites: Yeah, worms. Common parasites include roundworms and tapeworms, which can spread to other cats (or even your dog) if they come in contact with feces that contains eggs. When ingested, the eggs hatch in your pets' intestines (or yours, for that matter, if you don't wash your hands after cleaning the box.)

Even if your kitty is indoors-only, the litter box is an important reflection of her health. Changes in bathroom behaviors can give you a quick heads up to potential issues. So, while it's not fun to scoop, look for changes in your cats' "deposits." Diarrhea, blood in the stool, white specks and other changes may warrant a precautionary trip to your veterinarian.

And while we're talking samples, let's talk smell. Let's be frank: cat poop stinks. Some litters can mask the odor, but the best way to remove the smell is to scoop the poop—pronto. Not only does that quickly eradicate the lingering scent, quick removal also keeps your litter cleaner longer.

If you can't be there to scoop all day (hello, who wants that job?) scoop it once in the morning and again in the evening. Then, give the litter pan a complete change weekly (for non-clumping litter) and monthly for clumping litter. 

That brings up the next important decision: Covered or open pan. The types and configurations of cat litter boxes is many and varied. At the end of the day, it's up to you and your cat to decide. Some cats prefer the security and privacy of a covered cat box, while others like the ability to see all around them at all times. 

The biggest down side of an open cat pan? The dog. If your dog is like mine and finds feline feces to be a delicious delicacy, you'll have to be fast with the scoop to keep your canine from turd-snacking.

Next, where you place your cat box can be as important as what type you select. Cats are territorial creatures, and one of their many quirks can be litter box locale. Never place a cat litter box near their food or in an area where there are loud noises (think laundry room). Also make sure that the litter box has multiple escape routes. If your cat can't make a quick exit, she may select a spot in your home that does. 

How many litter boxes you need depends on how many cats you have. Plan on one box per cat, plus one. That doesn't mean creating "litter box alley" with multiple boxes. To help keep the litter box drama to a minimum, have multiple litter boxes placed throughout your house.

Further minimize the chances of litter box aromas developing by tossing those plastic litter pans at least once a year. Despite those monthly soap-and-water cleanses, the ammonia in cat urine will eventually embed via scratches in the plastic, leaving that lingering cat urine smell we all try to avoid. Cat litter liners do not prevent the urine smell from embedding into the plastic; you'll still need to replace the pans.

If you have cats, you have litter boxes. With a little attention to detail, you can keep your house smelling great and your cats happy and healthy.

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Time for a new litter box?

Not sure if it's a cat litter issue or something bigger? Ask a vet now!

Maybe it's the litter. Ready to try something new?

Let's help you get rid of that bad cat pee smell, okay?

 

 

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6 Comments
Comments
by
‎01-25-2016 05:31 PM
Or you can use two plastic liners at a time so the cats can't scratch through two layers and you barely ever have to scrub/wash the litter box and never have to replace it. Been working for me for years...
Or you can use two plastic liners at a time so the cats can't scratch through two layers and you barely ever have to scrub/wash the litter box and never have to replace it. Been working for me for years...
Posted on Jan. 25, 2016
by
‎01-26-2016 07:08 AM
Don't like to scoop poop? I recommend sifting liners! The greatest invention since breathing air! 👍🐱
Don't like to scoop poop? I recommend sifting liners! The greatest invention since breathing air! 👍🐱
Posted on Jan. 26, 2016
by Diane
‎01-29-2016 02:49 PM

When my cat was 2 years old he was already bigger than any other cat I have lived with, so the larger litter box became too small for him. I bought a jumbo size litter box.  I have never had a problem because he lets me know every time he uses it. And I am expected to clean it immediately, which I do, then change it completely once a week with his supervision. Smiley Happy If I am not feeling well, I may wait a day or two until I change the whole thing and he lets me know he is not happy, but he does wait.

When my cat was 2 years old he was already bigger than any other cat I have lived with, so the larger litter box became too small for him. I bought a jumbo size litter box.  I have never had a problem because he lets me know every time he uses it. And I am expected to clean it immediately, which I do, then change it completely once a week with his supervision. Smiley Happy If I am not feeling well, I may wait a day or two until I change the whole thing and he lets me know he is not happy, but he does wait.

Posted on Jan. 29, 2016
by
‎01-29-2016 06:14 PM
A lot of pet parasites can be transmitted to humans also! Wash your hands!!
A lot of pet parasites can be transmitted to humans also! Wash your hands!!
Posted on Jan. 29, 2016
by Ebou
‎07-25-2016 08:09 AM

My husband and I have been living with Siamese for 25 years now, and just love the photos of closed kitty litter boxes.  They mostly show Siamese using them. I could never get mine to use a closed box, they mainly wanted to sleep inside, not poop. My Siamese have the need to bury not only their poop, but the wall and anything else that's within reach. It sometimes takes them 10 minutes to complete their duty. And don't get caught watching, that's a no no! We presently have 3 kitties, two females, and one male, and only two litter boxes. One at each end of the house. This works well for us. Once everyone determined their own territory, and stopped chasing each other out of the "box". and much screaming on my husband and my part. They all adjusted to just two. So, it all depends on the household and the animals. I do clean their boxes every day and wash it out once a month, and replace once a year. If you have a huge cat, try using a storage box instead of a littler box, put the lid under it to catch the dropped litter, you can get them in really big sizes and the cats can't throw the litter out so easily. And a small throw rug in front that catches what falls off their feet. ALL litter sticks to cat's feet no matter what the a litter company says. And if you have tile floors, it's yukkie to step on.

My husband and I have been living with Siamese for 25 years now, and just love the photos of closed kitty litter boxes.  They mostly show Siamese using them. I could never get mine to use a closed box, they mainly wanted to sleep inside, not poop. My Siamese have the need to bury not only their poop, but the wall and anything else that's within reach. It sometimes takes them 10 minutes to complete their duty. And don't get caught watching, that's a no no! We presently have 3 kitties, two females, and one male, and only two litter boxes. One at each end of the house. This works well for us. Once everyone determined their own territory, and stopped chasing each other out of the "box". and much screaming on my husband and my part. They all adjusted to just two. So, it all depends on the household and the animals. I do clean their boxes every day and wash it out once a month, and replace once a year. If you have a huge cat, try using a storage box instead of a littler box, put the lid under it to catch the dropped litter, you can get them in really big sizes and the cats can't throw the litter out so easily. And a small throw rug in front that catches what falls off their feet. ALL litter sticks to cat's feet no matter what the a litter company says. And if you have tile floors, it's yukkie to step on.

Posted on Jul. 25, 2016
by Raw Onion
‎08-21-2016 12:15 PM

Can anyone tell me why my female cap with pee in the box but will not poop in it.  Was really well litterbox trained until about 6 months when she started pooping outside of her  box.  We are a one cat household.

Can anyone tell me why my female cap with pee in the box but will not poop in it.  Was really well litterbox trained until about 6 months when she started pooping outside of her  box.  We are a one cat household.

Posted on Aug. 21, 2016
About the Author
  • Lori Wildrick is a lifestyle writer who focuses on pets, family life and financial topics. She shares her home with three teenagers, one dog and four cats. One of her favorite hobbies is trying to identify all of the wild birds that visit her yard thanks to a nearby bird sanctuary.
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