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How Often Should You Change Cat Litter? – Everything You Need to Know About Litter Box Management

cat in kitty litter

Fact checked by a Hello Ralphie expert veterinarian

If you have ever owned a cat, you have probably noticed how particular they can be. Cats are naturally very clean animals, which is why they are so picky about where they urinate and defecate. If a cat does not have a clean and sanitary place to go, it will find somewhere else, or worse, it will hold it, which leads to a variety of health issues. So, how often should you change your cat’s litter?

If you want to keep your house clean and smelling fresh while also making sure that your cat is happy and healthy, take extra care to ensure you are providing your cat with a clean litter box. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Not only will we explain how often you should change cat litter, but we will also tell you everything you need to know about litter box setup and maintenance! You can also get in touch to make a vet appointment today if you have more questions.

Rules for Litter Box Maintenance

If you can, you should try your best to follow the rules listed below. While we know that circumstances change and people get busy, the more effort you put into keeping your cat’s litter box clean, the better it will smell and the happier your cat will be!

How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?

If you can, you should aim to replace cat litter at least once per week. However, if you scoop the litter frequently, it is possible to stretch litter changes to once every two weeks. We find that the easiest way to stay on top of litter changes is to schedule it for the same day every week. Stick to a routine, and before long, you will start doing it without putting much thought into it.

When it comes to changing the litter, you should start by pouring the old litter into the trash. Kitty litter can generate a lot of dust, especially when it is agitated, so be careful when you change it and choose a location that you can easily clean afterward. If you are sensitive to dust, you could consider wearing a face mask when tending to the litterbox or taking the cat litter tray outside to pour it out.

Remember, pregnant women should not change litter boxes, as there is a risk of contracting toxoplasmosis.

More tips on how often you should change a cat litter box!

How Often Should You Scoop a Litter Box?

The more often you scoop the litter box, the better it will smell and the longer the litter can last. Scooping a litter box differs from a full litter change. Given that most cat litter brands clump, removing waste with a scoop is quite easy.

Scooping the litter box twice per day is ideal, but you can get away with only doing it once. Just make sure you avoid letting clumps sit for more than 24 hours, as that can be very off-putting for your cat.

Plus, regular litter box scooping helps you know that your cat is eliminating properly. Get the scoop on their poop if you need to know how often your cat should be eliminating.

How Often Should a Litter Tray be Washed?

Washing is the part of litter box maintenance that people overlook the most. Even when you scoop litter boxes often and change the litter regularly, the litter tray itself can still hold unpleasant odors.

To avoid this, simply wash the litter tray with dish soap and warm water. You should avoid using cleaning products with strong scents, or toxic ingredients, as the unnatural scents can put off cats with a strong sense of smell. We recommend cleaning the litter tray every month; however, you can clean it more frequently if you would prefer.

litter tray with scoop for cat top view

Rules for Litter Box Set-Up

If you have never owned a cat before, it might be tempting to purchase a small litter box and place it somewhere out of the way. While setting up a litter box does not have to be overly complicated, there are a few important rules you should follow:

Where Should You Put Your Cat’s Litter Box?

Again, cats are very particular, so litter box placement is important. Take the following into consideration when deciding where you will put your cat’s litter box:

  • Avoid placing the litter box near the cat’s food and water.
  • Find a quiet location where the cat will have some degree of privacy.
  • If you have more than one cat, make sure each cat has its litter box and make sure they are far apart. Ideally, each cat’s litter box will be out of view from the other litter boxes.
  • If you can, find a location that has good air circulation, which means avoiding putting your cat litter box in cupboards and stale-smelling basements.

What Size Litter Box Should You Choose?

In general, the larger the litter box, the happier the cat will be. However, if floor space is limited, you should aim for a litter box that is at least one and a half times the length of your cat.

The cat litter box should be large enough that your cat can comfortably enter and turn around. If you have an older cat, the entrance should be nearly flush with the ground.

How Many Litter Boxes Should You Have?

Most veterinarians recommend having at least one litter box per cat, plus an extra if you have more than one. For example, if you have three cats, you would need four litter boxes in your home. Again, the litter boxes should be kept apart, ideally in different rooms. Speak with a vet if you have any questions.

tabby cat sitting in a little box

Getting Started

If you are a new cat owner or you want to make sure that your cat has the perfect living situation, including the right litterbox and kitty litter, we recommend booking a virtual veterinarian appointment to talk to a vet online today. Our online vets can go over everything you need to know about making your home cat-friendly. Best of all, virtual vet appointments are done from the comfort of your own home, so you will not have to put your cat through the stress of driving to an in-person vet clinic.

Talk to an online veterinarian today, and we can answer any questions you have about litter box maintenance and keeping your feline friend happy and healthy.

If you have more questions about litter box maintenance or are encountering specific litter box issues, like a cat that refuses to use its litter box, read through another of our useful litter box guides, Why Cats Pee Outside the Litter Box.

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