The Importance of Litter Box Hygiene

Whether you have one cat or two cats, or even more. The importance of the hygiene with their litter boxes should be taken care off. How many boxes do you need for how many cats? How often do you need to clean it out or scoop it? What to look out for, and what are the things that may happen if you don’t clean it often enough?

Photo by Crankydragon.

Photo by Crankydragon.


Cleaning your cat’s litter box daily is important for your cat’s health. If you use a clumping litter, cleaning daily will allow you to remove the solid clumps before they dry out and your cat kicks them back into the litter again. And a dirty litter box full of clumps and dried out poop and pee is most likely to become a bacteria’s favorite place, and your cat may not want to use it anymore.

After you scooped, pour a small amount of clean litter into the box. A daily refill means that you don’t have to refill it completely that often.

With clay litter, you need to remove the solid waste each day, and clean the box each week.


This involves more work, but you should have thought about that before getting a kitty, right? It’s like walking the dog, but indoors!

Every week you need to empty the box completely. Wash it out with mild soap (not harsh chemicals) and warm water. Scrub the box, and rinse it thoroughly with clean water. After that you dry it, and refill!

But depending on the litter and how many cats, cleaning out can be done every two weeks two.

If You Don’t Clean It Often Enough (Or Not At All)

If you don’t clean out the litter box enough, or not at all. Your cat may decide to his or hers business on your carpet. How would you feel if have to use a toilet that hasn’t been flushed in days? Exactly…

Make the cleaning part a simple routine. Before you go to bed, or before you brush your teeth. Just a few minutes of scooping and you’re done. Nothing to do every Sunday morning? Time to clean out the entire box!

Also, a covered box is less likely to be cleaned out often. It’s out of sigh, out of mind.

Photo by Napoleon_70.

Photo by Napoleon_70.

A Dirty Box

I’m sure there are cat owners who wait until the smell of poop and wet litter is making its way through the house, before they finally decide to clean it all at once. This results in one clean box for one day, and stuck with the stench again for the upcoming weeks.

But that’s not all. A dirty and unscooped box, may cause your cat to hold in their pee for too long, which may result in UTI’s or blockages that can be fatal.

Did you know a dirty box can make both you and your kitty sick? Your kitties poop won’t necessarily make her sick, but what’s hiding inside of it might. A cat that is sick either transfers it through bodily fluids, like saliva and blood, or through poop/pee. If you have more cats in your home, and one of them is sick, and sharing the litter box, he can make the other cats sick too —┬áThat’s why it’s important to keep your litter box clean, and to make sure your cats are always up to date to vet check ups!

And what about toxoplasmosis, a parasite? Or E. Coli? E. Coli lives in the intestines of most animals and humans. While this bacteria is usually harmless, it can cause some stomach cramps and diarrhea. Another good reason to keep your cat’s box clean and to wash your hands afterwards!

And let’s not forget about the ammonia in cat urine. It can irritate the lungs. Avoid this irritation by removing he urine clumps or changing non-clumping litter daily. Keeping the litter in a closed container in the house intensifies the ammonia smell.

Photo by Tom Thai.

Photo by Tom Thai.

The Golden Rule

One litter box per cat, plus one. That is the golden rule of all litter boxes! Problems like urine spraying or not wanting to use the box can be prevented by offering another box. Your cats need a place to do his business and to mark his territory. If you only have one box, and three cats, there might be a problem with the territory and you may need to scoop it out more than once a day!


16 Responses to “The Importance of Litter Box Hygiene”

  1. Kitties Blue

    A very good and informative post. We used to have more boxes than we do now, but several would sit and never be used. We now have five boxes for eight cats, and they all want to use the same two, but will on occasion use the others. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

    • Cats & Co

      Wow, 8! Yes, that’s right! Now I counted the names, and there are really 8 cats! Never realized, haha. :)
      But hey, if two or five boxes works for your kitties, then I don’t see a problem!

  2. fozziemum

    Great post…read it after tray duty ironically hahahaah i must confess i am an empty completely wash and disinfect every morning gal..comes from voluteering in shelters.i just have the habit of being overly thorough as i know the every morning they are done…and if needs be they are done during the course of the day…we used chicken layer pellets as litter so very economical,cat friendly,enviro friendly and biodegradable….Happy Thanksgiving to you all loves and hugs Fozziemum xxx

    • Cats & Co

      I should really look into those chicken layer pellets! If you use them as litter, do you find them through the house as well, like regular litter?

      • fozziemum

        No not really..we have a separate bathroom we seldom use with a clawfoot tub..the trays go in there to stop the dogs ‘mining’ for goodies…might find the odd bit in there :)

      • fozziemum

        Born of necessity!! not only the usual cat nuggets that attracts the dogs but the wheat in the layer pellets..making it possibly the most tempting dog treat ever!!

  3. Tom Duhamel

    Ah! good one!! :)

    I clean it *almost* everyday. Usually as I come back from work, often just after I served the meal (they will use the box soon after a meal).

    I do the complete cleaning about every other week. It’s not an actual routine, it’s when I notice the clay is obviously not very clean anymore. I like to pour baby powder (or powder sold especially for litter box, which is basically baby powder with some extra ingredients) on the bottom of the box before I fill it, it is easier to clean afterward and it prevents bad smells.

    When the box is dirty, cat’s like to pee on any surface which will absorb the pee. Not just a carpet, a bed or couch too. Do not ever punish a cat for peeing out of the litter box, you created the problem which caused the behavior. Add more boxes or clean them more often.

    I have two boxes for three cats. Works for me, but people must adjust to their cats.

      • Tom Duhamel

        You are saying you are in need of an extra but can’t? Build an extension to the flat or something :P When I had problem with cats peeing in the beds, I sure worked it out until I found what worked. I can’t stand sleeping in smeely/wet bed!

  4. purrfectkitties

    Thank you for this very interesting post. And we agree – we want our boxes to be cleaned on a daily basis! :-)

    Purrs and hugs,
    Roxy & Tigerlino

  5. Margaret Steenbakker

    Very interesting post indeed :3 I will definitely keep this in mind when I have a cat of my own someday. They do have cats at my boyfriend’s though, and they’re those people who only clean the litter box when it starts to smell. I’ve tried to warn them about the risks a couple of times, but no luck there unfortunately.

    • Cats & Co

      Sometimes people have to learn. I used to be the same. ;) But one of my cats Suki, starts pooping right in front of it when we forget about it. And we’re like: ‘Oh, she’s right. We’ve been forgetting about it!”


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