Cats

How often should you change a litter box?

posted: 05/15/12
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How Often Should You Change a Cat's Litter Box?
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Mittens is not happy with you. In fact, she's downright mad, and you don't even know it. Your Maine Coon cat refuses to use her litter box, and for the life of you, you can't figure out why she is turning your favorite African violet into her new potty.

The way you see it, she's got a perfectly good, bright green litter box in your guest bathroom courtesy of the new upscale pet boutique. The way she sees it, the "boutique" box might be pretty on the outside, but it smells like the bathroom at Grand Central Station during rush hour. Clearly you two are not on the same page.

There's one way to keep yourself in your kitty's good graces: Clean Mittens' litter box -- regularly. Cats like clean litter boxes, just as you like a clean toilet. It's that simple. You won't be able to get Mittens (or any cat for that matter) to use her box if it doesn't measure up on her cleanliness meter. She still will relieve herself, but she'll find alternative places -- and trust us when we say that'll be all over your house -- to do her business.

"Bad Kitty"

Sometimes pet owners blame the cat for not using the box. They complain to their veterinarian about their cat's "bad behavior." They accuse their kitty of being persnickety, snobbish and downright uppity. Quite honestly, one of the main reasons a cat refuses to use his litter box is because it smells bad -- cats have very sensitive noses. So, to prevent World War III from breaking out in your home, our advice is to clean your cat's litter box on a regular basis.

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How Often Should You Change a Cat's Litter Box?
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How often?

Litter serves an important purpose in the cat lover's household. It's the absorbent material that cat owners pour inside their beloved's litter box to soak up urine and hide feces. So how often should a litter box be cleaned? You need to scoop the feces out of your kitty's litter box every single day and replace the litter once a week.

Changing a cat's litter is a three-step process, according to "The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book":  Dump the dirty litter out of the box and put it in sealed plastic bags; scrub the box with mild, unscented liquid soap and a solution of a little bit of bleach and water (not too much bleach, though) and then put fresh litter in the clean, dry box. Filling the box to the brim with litter isn't necessary. The Animal Humane Society of the United States says many cats won't use a litter box with more than 2 inches of litter in it.

Colleen Wallace, D.V.M. and associate veterinarian at the Cozy Cat Veterinary Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., says there's a simple equation for all cat owners to follow: Take the number of cats in your home and divide it by the number of boxes in your house, and that will give you the number of times a day you should scoop. For example, if you have two cats, and two boxes, that means you need to scoop each box once a day no matter what type of litter you use.

It takes two

If you decide to bring a second cat into your home to keep Mittens company, that cat will need his own litter box. Sometimes the first cat won't allow the second one to share his place of elimination. The way to avoid this problem is to have two litter boxes -- one for each cat. The Animal Humane Society even advises getting one box for each cat plus one more so if you stay late at work, the cats still have a fresh place to go. Pet owners should keep the boxes in separate locations so one of the cats won't ever prevent the others from using them. That will make everyone happy, including the African violet.

Did you know?

If you put down a thin layer of baking soda before you put the litter in your cat's litter box, it will help absorb the stink and make the box smell more pleasant to both of you.

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