How to Clean a Cat Litter Box

Playful Cat. How to Clean a Litter Box.

How to Clean the Litter Box

Cleaning the cats litter box is not one of our most favorite things to do but it needs to be done in order to keep our furry friends happy and in good health – not to mention the health of our family.

Some cats are neater than others; they saunter in, do their business, cover up and move on. The not-so-neat ones toss litter around until half of what was in the box is on the floor in front of the box.

Older cats can be especially messy, as they often lose sight of the fact that while the head and paws are inside the box, the “business” end may not be.

So, if you’re in need of some kitty litter cleaning tips, keep reading.

What is the Best Litter Box for My Cat?

Cats are pretty self-sufficient and the right litter box for your cat or cats can help with cleanup and there are many different cat boxes on the market today.

When considering what litter box is right for your needs, you should take into consideration the size of your cat, how many cats you have, do you have a picky cat that doesn’t like closed spaces, etc.

There are self-cleaning litter boxes, open air litter boxes (with high enough sides it helps the litter stay in the box), there are covered litter boxes (in many shapes and sizes and some that look like plant holders), disposable litter boxes and so on.

There are also mats you can buy for cat boxes. They are large enough they extend on all sides and help catch litter left on paws so they are not traipsing the litter throughout the house.

Even if you have a cat that likes the outdoors more than the indoors, you may still need a litter box. If you have a large home, you may need more than one.

Oh, and don’t forget to invest in a good pooper scooper. Believe it or not, some can break under the pressure of urine and poop clumps. There are also liners you can buy for litter boxes to help with cleanup.

Cleaning the Litter Box

This is one of those things you don’t want to procrastinate about. A messy litter box is not healthy for you or your cat plus it’s harder to scoop if left too long.

If you have a finicky cat, they may not like the mess and decide to go elsewhere – in the house.

Depending on how many cats you have, you may have to clean the litter box two or three times a day, definitely once a day. When cleaning, be sure to get all the way down to the bottom of the litter so you’re not leaving waste behind.

  1. Gently scoop up the clumps from the tops and sides of the box.
  2. Try not to break the clumps apart as this will redistribute little clumps of dirty litter back into the box and can be hard to scoop them back up.
  3. Put the scooped poop and urine in a disposable bag and throw away.
  4. Replenish litter. Typically, you replenish what has been taken out but if you have one cat that doesn’t potty often, you may get away with replenishing the litter every other day.

Litter should be about two inches deep, more will not change the frequency of cleaning. Although, if you are using a liner, you may have to add another inch so the cat doesn’t scratch the liner up.

If you are using a litter that states its flushable, not every plumbing system is the same, you may end up with a clog you don’t want to deal with.

Washing the Litter Box

The litter box itself should be cleaned at least once a month, around the time you’re doing a complete litter change. Again, this will depend on how many cats are using the litter box.

  1. Empty the old litter into a garbage bag and then scrape out any that’s stuck to the bottom and the sides.
  2. Take the box outside and thoroughly rinse the box.
  3. Pour in about one inch of white vinegar and let sit for 30 minutes then (with gloves on) use a brush to scrub the sides – inside and out.
  4. Empty box and rinse again.
  5. Let dry.

This is also a good time to clean the scooper. After rinsing it off, let it sit in the vinegar you poured in the cat box. Scrub off anything stuck between the tines and rinse.

Cleaning Around the Litter Box

Use a hand held vacuum to clean around the cat box. This can be done each night after cleaning the litter box but again, it will depend on how many cats you have going in and out of the box.

On the day you completely wash out the box is a good time to wash the floor and walls around the cat box. Even if you don’t have a messy cat, cat litter leaves dust behind, especially when replenishing the litter box.

If the litter box is in a bathroom, make sure to scrub the grout between the tiles on both the floor and the walls, as grout is somewhat porous and bacteria can hide there.

Cleaning the Litter Box and Pregnancy

If you are pregnant or you’re trying to get pregnant and have cats and if possible, you may want to consider someone else cleaning the litter box.

Kitty poop contains a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis. If you’re pregnant, and you become infected, you can pass the infection on to your baby. Does this mean you have to give your cat away? No.

Just take precautions. If you have to clean the litter box, be sure to wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after each cleaning as one way of infection is through infected cat feces.

Following these cat litter box cleaning tips will keep you, your family, and your cat happy and healthy.