General Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Can you instruct me on litter box maintenance?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (37280points) September 28th, 2023
15 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

I’m looking for information only from experienced cat owners. Others are welcome to read, but kindly refrain from answering.

I have a good box with a top. I use a liner and clumping clay litter, which Saki prefers. I scoop it at least once a day and sometimes twice.

There is little odor because of the top. One brand of litter controls odor better than the other brand.

Am I supposed to completely empty the litter on a schedule? I’m changing it but only monthly. One site said weekly.

One friend mentioned I’m supposed to change the scoop weekly and wash it after use.

Saki seems perfectly happy with how things are.

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canidmajor's avatar

Listen to Saki. I have had a number of cats, and each one has been different. One deposited everything so carefully and never attempted to bury, the smell made me scoop every time, but it was easy. Another threw ALL the litter EVERYWHERE with great enthusiasm, that was a pain to clean up. If she is happy with things as they are, then be aware, but don’t shake things up or she may substitute the shower (or your pillow!!) in protest.
My last two would only accept traditional, non-clumping clay and frequent changes. Serious ugh.

JLeslie's avatar

I think you have to gauge it by your cat. Our cats were indoor outdoor so they didn’t always use the litter box, but at one point we had three cats. These are cats I grew up with, so my mom was the one primarily taking care of the litter.

The way I remember it my mom completely changed the litter every 3–4 weeks or so, it definitely wasn’t weekly, but during those weeks she was adding some new litter periodically as she scooped out, which I think helped to freshen it up.

My mom tends to be not very organized and she would not be obsessed with germs the way I tend to be, but she did keep up with the litter box in the sense that the smell was controlled and she scooped out once or twice as day as needed.

She didn’t use a liner, but it sounds like a good idea to me if the cat is fine with it.

LadyMarissa's avatar

As long as Saki is happy, you’re doing it right. When she is unhappy, she will start leaving you little gifts outside the box. Cats are funny critters in that they can have their own picky quirks. They like what they like & they don’t care what is convenient for you. I learned the hard way that my cat was picky about the coarseness of the litter. Apparently she had tender little paws. She also didn’t care for the “special crystals” that some companies claim to cut back on odor.

Once I found the perfect litter for my cats, I scooped several times a day & I only did the complete clean once a month. As I scooped out, I replenished with a top off. With the right litter, there shouldn’t be any odor. If the odor persists, consider taking Saki to the vet for a urinary tract checkup. It might not be Saki; but then again, it could be. I had that problem with one of my cats. Once the vet got him completely well, the odor problem just went away.

Final thought…have you considered a self-cleaning litter box??? They have gotten fairly expensive, so personally, I would still do the manual scoop!!!

gondwanalon's avatar

We have 3 male cats. Two usually go outside to poop and pee.
I don’t think that having a lid on the cat box is a good idea within a household of multiple cats because the cat using the cat box is in a vulnerable position (and as such needs to be able know what’s going on around). When a cat has a lid to deal with then it is vulnerable to attacks from the other cats while exiting the cat box.

I’ve been buying WinCo brand “Scoopable cat litter”, multi-cat, “scented, hard clump, low dust” litter and Arm & Hamer “Super Scoop” fragrance free. The cats use either brand equally well.

I have 3 cat boxes (never used a liner) and scoop the litter once a day. I clean an bleach the cat boxes once a year.

canidmajor's avatar

Oh, one other thought. I found that garbage bags of an appropriate size and strength were significantly less expensive than liners specifically marketed for cat boxes. Just FYI.

smudges's avatar

In addition to all of the great suggestions/reassurances already written, one thing I did was every couple of days I would sprinkle some baking soda on top and either mix it in or let the cat do it while covering up.

One thing is for sure…if she suddenly starts going outside of the box, have the vet check her over. Mine did that when she got older and it hurt her to bother getting in the box. It can also happen with a UTI, or a change in how you do things. Since it’s just one cat, I’d leave the top on since she’s used to it. But I see @gondwanalon‘s point about several cats.

I love how you love her enough to ask questions here. <3

jca2's avatar

The cat is the boss. When she’s happy, that’s what you go by.

I use garbage bags, too, just like @canidmajor. The garbage bags are big enough so the whole box is covered, and they’re cheaper than liners. When I’m ready to throw the litter out, the bag is turned inside out and it encases all the dirty litter, and then I put that into another garbage bag to throw out.

As far as odor, I find the odor to be something I get used to. It’s helpful if someone else tells you if it’s really offensive or tolerable. Then again, if you can tolerate it, that’s really what counts.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I never used litterbox liners. My cat’s claws tore them and made a mess.

I emptied the box weekly and cleaned it thoroughly. My secret weapon—borax powder, which you can buy on the laundry aisle of most supermarkets. Dampen the box’s interior, sprinkle it with borax, and use a wad of paper towels (or a brush reserved for this purpose) to scrub completely. The borax will eliminate all stains and odors. Rinse the box and let it dry before refilling.

kritiper's avatar

Scooping once a day is very good. Changing the litter out every week would be better, odor control wise, but whatever works for you and kitty is good. Washing the box monthly is up to you but sounds good to me.

I had a customer who had an automatic scooping cat box with cover tent, no liner. I emptied out the poo and clumps weekly and added clean litter as needed. It should have been done twice a week but it’s what they could afford.

SnipSnip's avatar

I will not instruct you but I will share how I handled this through the years. I used a box with the tall top and swing door. I bought inexpensive litter and put baking soda on the floor of the box prior to adding the litter. I scooped daily and threw out the litter weekly and washed the box with hot water and Pine Sol (outside). Cats get spoiled easily and if I got off schedule, two of my past cats would pee on the bathroom floor….out of anger. I haven’t had a cat in years now but this is what worked for me and my felines.

seawulf575's avatar

Back when we had cats, we scooped regularly and then changed out the litter periodically. Some litters lasted longer than others but usually it was about once a week. I would wash out the box about every other week unless there was some reason to do it prior (cat cleared out a corner and dropped a deuce, eg)

tinyfaery's avatar

Get an aluminum litter box and do not use any liners or scent products. Plastic will absorb odor, especially over time, and waste sticks to plastic easier. Make sure your litter clumps quickly because the waste just sitting there (and the cats not covering) is what causes the odor. I use Sustainably Yours. With an aluminum litter box you can go a bit longer between changing out the entire litter, but I would do it at least once a month, some people recommend once a week, so I think there is some wiggle room there.

Make sure you have more than one litter box, and it is best not to use a hood. If you scoop daily you don’t need one and cats tend not to like them anyway.

There is always this. (I utilize this website a lot.)

Zaku's avatar

If the cat is fine with it, and you are fine with it, it’s ok to do what you’re doing. That’s what I’ve done for many years with no problems.

I use clumping litter too, and rarely replace it, because the clumping tends to mean almost anything dirty gets scooped out. If I used a plastic scoop, I might replace it occasionally, but I use a metal scoop, so replacing that would be silly. If it gets anything stuck to it that won’t come off with scooping, I’ll clean it off.

If you’d like less smell, there are also some products that might help. I have a powder for that that gets added occasionally.

LifeQuestioner's avatar

Like others have said, go by if your cat is happy. And if you’re not smelling any undesirable odors, then you must be doing something right. I don’t use the clay litter anymore because to me it threw up too much dust in the air. I couldn’t have a hood on the litter box because my two rescue cats were too freaked out by it. But every time they would go in the litter and then bury their treasures, it was like I could taste the dust in my mouth.

I use the crystal litter, and I scoop it everyday or so, but generally don’t have to change it but once a month. I am somewhat surprised that you only have to change your clay litter about once a month but maybe you have a higher quality brand than I ever used because mine would start smelling before that.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Cat’s with asthma or respiratory issues do poorly with covered boxes because they trap dust in with the cat…

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