Cleaning a cat’s litter box doesn’t stop at scooping out the feces and urine clumps. Cats love to keep themselves and their environment clean and so they require a clean litter box too. To prevent sudden outside litter box surprises, I want to teach you how to clean a cat’s litter box properly. It will require you to scoop out, empty out litter sand, clean thoroughly using soap, spraying or washing with a chlorine mixture, drying and refilling with litter.
Why Clean Your Cat’s Litter Box?
The most obvious reason to clean out the cat litter box is because it will otherwise become VERY smelly in your house. Cats really love to be clean themselves too and not get “previous cat products” on them when visiting a litter box.
There are however many reasons why you should clean the litter box and clean it regularly:
- Clean litter box = clean paws = not as much mess in your room
- Clean litter box = clean cat, cats love to be clean
- Clean litter box does not smell bad
- Dirty litter box causes stress in your cat(s)
- Dirty litter box most common reason for outside litter box problems
- Dirty litter box is a nest of bacteria = illnesses
- You cannot diagnose a cat’s possible illness in a dirty litter box
That were suddenly very many reasons. I don’t think I need to say much about the first three points. Clean litter boxes just makes your house and your cats a cleaner place.
Dirty litter Cause For Stress & Reason For Outside litter box Problems
A dirty litter box is a cause for a lot of drama. Cats really prefer things clean around them. Some cats are so picky that they stop using the litter box when it is dirty. Cats come in different shapes and sizes, so some do allow there to be some clumps while others want their “toilet” to be spotless clean every time they visit it.
A dirty box can cause a cat to stop using the litter box all together. They get stressed and might want to get rid of their toilet needs elsewhere. So when you don’t clean a cat litter box it simply means you can now expect to be scrubbing carpets, floors, walls, bedding, sofa’s etc instead of a simply cleaning that litter box.
Trying to teach a stressed cat to use the litter box can be a daunting task. Cleaning that litter box is way easier compared and to be honest, people that don’t want to take care of their cat, shouldn’t be having a cat in the first place.
Bacteria – Cause Of Illnesses
Naturally there where is feces and waste is going to be a nest of bacteria. Having a cat in this waste, would mean illnesses and infections are waiting to happen. In nature, they wouldn’t stay in their own feces either to say it bluntly, they would do their business in different places.
The bacteria from feces in your litter box isn’t any better for your health either. Not for nothing that pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems should be careful with cleaning high bacterial area’s such as litter boxes and human toilets. A dirty cat litter box means these bacterial area’s might spread too.
No Diagnosing For Health Problems Possible
Cats are very difficult to read on whether something is up with them and their health. A great barometer of their health is what they produce in the litter box. For example the substance of their feces can tell a lot about the well-being of a cat, such as diarrhea or extremely hard feces. Another great barometer of trouble is their urine. There are great tools out there that can help you to catch problems early on.
This is of course only problem to diagnose when there is room to see the differences and with a dirty litter box this will be a difficult story. In a clean litter box it is easier to find the different cat produces and to identify possible health issues.
How To Clean A Cat’s Litter Box?
Cleaning a litter box isn’t complicated and can be done easily by doing the main thing of cleaning anything in your household. What is the main thing in cleaning you might wonder? It is called maintenance!
Certainly, the first time around it is a daunting task to clean something or a room or in this case a litter box, but as soon you have done that first proper clean, all that it takes after that is continuous maintenance.
If you’ve never really bothered cleaning the litter box properly, you might have to skip over to the cleaning of the entire litter box section further below. A proper clean out means emptying the entire box of litter and feces etc and cleaning the box thoroughly.
First I will go into what I would call maintenance and then I will go into explaining how to do the thorough cleaning of the litter box that you should do anyway once a month. You will note that even though this is a thorough cleaning, it will cost you less energy and time than when you don’t bother with maintenance cleanings at all.
Maintenance Cleaning Of A Litter Box
Every day 1-2 times a day you should perform maintenance cleaning to your litter box. Depending on the amount of cats in your household and the size of your litter box, this might be a higher number of times or a lower amount of times. We clean our litter box 1-2 times a day, have 2-3 litter boxes (depending on the amount of cat saving projects) and 5-8 cats.
In the warm season some of our cats go outside and that reduces the amount of feces somewhat compared to winter where most cats stay indoors.
For an easy removal of eliminations it is a good idea to have a good start. A good start is by using the right type of cat litter. If you have a cat litter that clumps, it will be much easier to remove both feces and fluids as clumps of clay.
With a non-clumping cat litter, you can get rid of most of the feces, but anything liquid ends up in the bottom of the litter box. As cats usually dig in the box, the fresh litter mixes with the urine and old litter. It generally means you need to refresh the entire litter box quite often and throw away a lot of money.
All you need is a bag or container to dispose of the clumps and a special litter box scoop that lets go off the clean litter and keeps the clumps contained. You will have to filter the entire box for clumps, so I tend to move all the litter to one side of the box.
Here are the 4 easy steps for litter box maintenance I do:
- Move litter to one side of the box
- Scoop and filter on the now empty side of the box
- Throw away every remaining clump
- Too low level? Add some litter to the box
Note that nr 2 and 3 need to be repeated until the entire side has been filtered. If you end up with too little litter in the box, make sure you add some more litter to the box.
Most cat litter boxes have a well showing filling height level inside the box, so make sure it reaches that. This type of scooping should be done at least once a day. If you forget it one day, you will notice it quick enough the next day, there will be way more to do there. Just remember that maintenance will keep the litter box clean and makes it way easier to keep it clean.
Once a month you should empty the entire litter box and clean the litter box thoroughly. This is to ensure that all bacteria have been removed and all remaining smells too. It is also to give both your cat and yourself a better smelling clean experience.
Cleaning the entire litter box is a bit more work, but can be done in 5 easy steps:
- Clean out the contents into a waste bag, scrub where necessary
- Wash the litter box with warm water and a detergent (soap)
- Spray the box inside and outside with 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water
- In sunny weather: sun dry; otherwise paper towel dry
- Fill with new cat litter until the marking (halfway usually)
Clean out the Contents
Although there is a flush able cat litter, it is still not advised to flush cat litter in a human toilet, unless you like to pay the bills of the people that have to unblock toilets. Depending on the litter you bought, you might be able to compose it in your garden, but in most cases you need to dispose it through general garbage.
My general advice is to empty it into a strong plastic bag, close it and dispose of it in the garbage container. Clumps of eliminations might be stuck on the bottom of the cat litter box, which need to be scraped off with a scraper, the cat litter scoop or other tools. I sometimes use the edge of a knife and even toothpicks to get it out of all nooks and crannies of these fantastic designed cat litter boxes.
Wash the Litter Box
Now it’s time for the more thorough cleaning job. Clean the box with warm water and soap inside and out. This might do much for the smells of that box. Rinse with water and set it to empty.
Spray Clean & Dry
A spray box of A mixture of 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water will take care of all the remaining bacteria. I tend to use a pet safe floor cleaner mixture instead, because bleach is not a cat safe cleaning agent. Thoroughly spray all inside sides and outside sides so that it is entirely covered with the spray. Leave it now to dry in the sun (upside down) or use paper towels to dry it entirely.
Refill With Fresh Cat Litter
You can now refill the cat litter box with new cat litter. Make sure you do not overfill it but just fill it up to the cat litter level mark. This is to ensure that cats won’t be scooping most of the cat litter out of the box when they start doing their business.
With fresh cat litter in the box, you and your cat can be happy again. That concludes my tips on how to clean a cat’s litter box.
Want to properly monitor a cat’s health? Read my review on a special monitoring litter.