No one likes to visit a dirty restroom — and that includes our cats. Keeping your litter box clean not only means that your home will smell fresher but it also helps encourage your cat to use the litter box faithfully, preventing smelly accidents and keeping your cat healthier. Cats that wait to urinate run the risk of developing urinary tract issues — so it is important for both of you to make sure that litter box is clean and inviting. Here are eight easy tips for keeping the litter box clean and attractive to your cat, whether you have one cat or a clowder:
Make Sure That You Have Enough Litter Boxes
The rule of thumb is one litter box per cat PLUS one extra box. Be sure you that have placed the litter boxes in areas where your cat likes to potty, avoiding high traffic areas and noisy areas (like near the washing machine). Multiple litter boxes make it easier to keep each box clean, and, if a cat should visit the box before you have a chance to scoop, it also offers your cat the opportunity to switch to use a different box. Just as you might switch stalls in a public restroom, your cat likes to have choices!
Skip the Litter Box Liner
The liner will make cleanup more difficult as your cat invariably punches a hole in the plastic. Cats do not like the feel of the liners so you are better off with just a bare litter box and litter.
Make Sure that The Litter Box is Big Enough for Your Cat
A litter box should be one and a half times as long as your cat. Unfortunately, many commercial litter boxes are far smaller than that. The result: your cat may “overshoot” the litter box and/or kick litter out of the box. Plastic boxes made for use under the bed are a favorite with many cat lovers with large cats. Tall sides can also be helpful with male cats or cats that kick. Clear sides on the litter box make it popular with your cat (who instinctively wants to see that no one is sneaking up on him during this vulnerable time in the box). While those higher sides are good (except for senior cats who might have difficulty getting up into a tall-sided box), avoid hooded boxes that cause many cats to feel trapped. They may either avoid the box altogether or get in and out as quickly as possible, failing to properly cover up their mess.
Do Not Overfill or Under-Fill the Litter Box
Overfilling the litter box will cause your cat to sink down in the litter, a sensation he may not like and may soon start to avoid. Over-full boxes also make it easier for your cat to kick litter out of the box and beyond. On the flip side, a box with too little litter will have a hard time absorbing urine. Your cat will scratch all the litter to one side of the box, leaving a bare box that will be home to a standing puddle.
Scoop and Scoop Some More
At a minimum, plan to scoop the litter – both solids and clumped urine – every day and, preferably, more often. Add a thin layer of fresh litter as needed.
Wash the Litter Box
For all your scooping efforts, the litter box itself becomes soiled. About once a week, plan to wash the litter box (preferably outdoors). Use dishwashing detergent and warm water, filling the box and letting it soak for five or ten minutes. If you have stubborn odors, mix in a solution of vinegar and water but avoid bleach or ammonia. If you are pregnant, be sure to wear a facemask (and disposable gloves) when washing the litter box – or any time you scoop or clean the box. Once a year, plan to replace your litter box and start fresh.
Sprinkle Baking Soda
Yes, you will find plenty of litter box deodorizing products on the market, but simple baking soda is less expensive, and it is also less offensive to your cat’s sensitive nose. Sprinkled on the bottom of the pan then covered with litter, the baking soda will absorb odors without assaulting your cat’s olfactory senses.
Use Litter Mats
The mess of a litter box does not just occur inside the box — it gets tracked outside the box as well. Cut back on the mess by providing a litter mat around the box itself as well as at the exit from the litter box room. Sisal and other rough materials are favorites for litter mats that work to loosen the trapped litter from your cat’s paws.