Tuesday 2 February 2021

How often should cat litter boxes be cleaned?

Well, they should be cleaned every day at the end of the day. That's my common sense suggestion. There is no absolute rule on this. You could clean them twice a day or immediately after your cat has gone to the toilet in the litter box. I would have thought that at least it should be once-a-day.

Cat in cat litter box
Cat in cat litter box or tray. Picture: Pixabay.

An important point though is that a litter box should not be scrubbed and cleaned to the nth degree and disinfected or perfumed. In other words it should not be over-cleaned because it is a very good idea that the litter box retains some of the smell of the faeces and urine and the cat. This is because the cat will then recognise the litter box as their toilet. They will be familiar with it. They will be comfortable using it. They will be attracted to it. It will help protect against inappropriate elimination.

You want your cat to use the litter box routinely without any doubts. If you introduce foreign smells into it it can help to lose its attraction for your cat. Don't forget that cats have a completely different attitude towards smells than humans. Humans tend to dislike these natural smells. 

They want the place to be sterilised normally and to hide away cat litter trays and pretend that their cat never goes to the toilet. Humans do have a kind of toilet or the smell of shit complex.

But for a cat it's a perfectly normal and good smell. It actually has some use because faeces and urine as you know are scent markers. They tell the world that the cat is here. They are calling cards. Sometimes cats bury their faeces because they want to be submissive but sometimes they don't. 

And in a very warm, welcoming home they might not because they're not fearful of anybody or anything else in the home and therefore there is no need to be submissive.

I would simply remove the faeces and urine from the litter tray every day and then perhaps once a week clean it properly with soap and water. I'm not sure you should use disinfectant and it should be air dried ideally. I wouldn't use any perfume to make it smell better. I don't believe in clay-based litters because of the dust they can produce which can harm cats

I know they are clumping but I prefer wood-based litters which are very good at suppressing odour but they don't clump. I don't think clumping is important. In fact clumping can be unpleasant because you get this wet, urine, grungy mass all balled together.

With wood-based litter you get high absorbency but it is not a solid messy mass. It just looks cleaner to me. There's also the issue of the environment. Clay-based litter is mined from the ground whereas ideally wood-based litter should be the waste from timber industries. That said, I have a total hatred of cutting down trees in any shape or form. 

I don't think we should be doing it any more. It's time to find alternatives to chopping down trees. And I mean sustainable alternatives not plastic. Something which is biodegradable which can be made by people which can be moulded and cut in the same way that wood can. Anyway I digress.

The answer to the question is to clean your litter box regularly, at least once a day do it well but don't kill completely your cat's scent or the scent of their faeces and urine. And one tray per cat in multicat homes plus one extra according to Jackson Galaxy.

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