How Often Do You Clean Your Cat’s Litter Box?

| January 3, 2014 | 35 Comments

New Litter Box in the Bathroom with Caymys 300x206 How Often Do You Clean Your Cat’s Litter Box?Recently, a Floppycats’ reader asked on our Facebook, “How often do cat owners clean their cat’s litter box (that is, the box itself, not the litter)?”

A related question was how often cat owners give their cats fresh litter.

Here is a summary of the responses:

  • Scooping twice per day, and cleaning the box out with hot water and bleach every 3-4 weeks.
  • Scooping and stirring the box daily, and then using bleach or vinegar to clean the box once the urine odor has permeated the plastic.
  • Concerns about bleach – that bleach should not be used to clean cat litter boxes because of toxicity issues.
  • Placing baking soda on the bottom of the litter box was recommended as a means of neutralizing odors.

The majority of respondents seemed to think that cleaning the box once or so monthly was optimal.

Let’s continue the discussion here – I scoop Charlie and Trigg’s 5 litterboxes on a daily basis, several times a day (whenever I see they’ve been used) and then completely clean them out when I think they are getting gross.
What’s your litterbox routine?

button print blu20 How Often Do You Clean Your Cat’s Litter Box?

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Category: Litter Box

About the Author ()

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

Comments (35)

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  1. ChristyB says:

    I work at home so generally as soon as Prossimo goes poo, I pick it up.

    I use the TidyCat Breeze system so pee runs through the grates to a pad below.

    I change the pad usually every week (sometimes a couple of days longer).

    The pellets themselves every 4-6 weeks (because of his diet, his poo is formed so when I pick up his poo, using dogs waste bags from BioBags, I am able to easily take out any soiled pellets leaving only clean ones).

    When I change the litter I break the box down and put it in the tub for a cleaning, pushing out any small pellets that got stuck in the grate, scrubbing the grate if necessary and soaking/wiping it all down with either vinegar or BacOut by Biokleen.

  2. Ragdoll Mommy says:

    I clean Nico and Anya’s two litter boxes once a day or when ever they get dirty. I clean out the whole thing once a month, or earlier. I do the same thing with Star and Saphira’s two litter boxes.

    I didn’t know you’re not suppose to use bleach in your cats’s litter box :-( I mean I know it’s toxic and all, but I was always told it’s okay to use. Thank you so much for telling me about this! I will no longer use bleach, but hot water.

    :-)

  3. Great discussion item!

    I scoop Pink Sugar’s litterbox whenever I see it’s been used. I’m home all the time so I check quite frequently. On average, I’d say I’m probably scooping it 4-5 times a day.

    I completely clean her litterbox once a month. This involves dumping out all the old litter. Scouring the box with hot soapy water, rinsing well and drying thoroughly before I refill with new fresh litter.

    NOTE: We just got her second litterbox (NVR Miss Litterbox!) delivered this morning so I’ll treat this second one as I do the first as far as scooping, cleaning and replacing litter.

    Big hugs to all!

    Patti & Pink Sugar :) <3

  4. Lynn says:

    Two cats = two inside boxes and one garage box. I’m home all day, so scoop poo when it’s deposited and first thing in the morning. I clean the boxes about once a month with soap and water and, when possible, let them dry in the sun.

  5. Teresa says:

    My routine is about the same as most – scooping whenever there is anything in there which equals it out to be about 3-4 times/day. Replace the whole thing about once a month.

  6. patricia says:

    2 of my cats rarely use the litter box unless i manage to keep them inside when i leave for work. i would prefer they say in but they came from the outside and it’s difficult at best. i have one x large box and i clean it whenever i see it’s been used. when i dump all of the litter.. which depends on the litter (i currently use “the worlds best cat litter” but going to try “precious cat” then i wash the box out with dish soap and then bleach and let it dry out in the air outside in the sun. if it’s winter then i use a towel to dry it really well. make sure you rinse really well and don’t use a whole lot of bleach, it’s not good for them to breathe that. my cat that uses the box regularly doesn’t like it if there is any poop in there when he has to go. and really, can you blame them? keeping the litter box clean keeps the house smelling good and makes your cat happy and a happy cat uses the litter box! yiiipeee..

  7. Kathie says:

    I have 4 cats and 4 boxes. All the boxes are down in a separate room in the basement. I only scoop once a day because they tend to use them at different times and I’m not around them enough to notice when they’re being used. I discard all the litter after a month (if it can make it that long!) and clean them out using Dawn dish detergent. I use Arm & Hammer litter, so there is baking soda in it already.

  8. ChristyB says:

    For those of you that use bleach, have you ever considered using an non-toxic alternative such as Hydrogen Peroxide?

    • Dementia Boy says:

      I may have considered it, but I still stick with a 1:64 bleach-water solution. Bleach and vinegar are my primary cleaning supplies for EVERYTHING. Even the sheriff’s deputies must pound their feet on a bleach-soaked towel in an otherwise empty litterbox if they want to come inside; otherwise, we talk on the front porch.

      Still, bleach must be used with caution. I have seen kittens drool and seize, and ultimately be euthanized, because shelter workers doused their cages with too much bleach :(

      • ChristyB says:

        @Dementia Boy

        1) what influenced your decision to stick with bleach if something else is just as or more effective without the potential danger?

        2) perhaps more importantly, why are the Sheriff’s Deputies pounding at your door?! what are you talking about on the porch?! are any of them cute?!?!?!

        • Dementia Boy says:

          (1) I just can’t think of a better disinfectant than bleach. The cats had good parvo titers the last time I tested them, but there’s too much crud up here and my cats are too old to risk viruses.

          (2) The sheriff’s office suspects me of stealing/dismantling steel leg-hold traps, as well as blowing an air raid siren during hunting season. They also think I have something to do with the feral cat enclosures. I’m too old to think anyone’s cute unless s/he has a fluffy tail, which these deputies don’t. =)

  9. Dementia Boy says:

    I’m not going to look at anyone else’s responses initially because I don’t want to be influenced and perhaps, um, exaggerate (i.e., lie).

    –Six litterboxes (NVR Miss). Each is marked in a black Sharpie with the month I bought it so that no box is over six months old. I buy a new box each month.

    –Litterbox patrol at least three times a day. Toss in a coffee can of fresh litter once a day if the litterbox has been used.

    –Last week of month: Begin cleaning litterboxes. Stop adding litter to the second oldest box; when the litter gets down to about two inches, dump the litter from that box into the oldest box, and soak the now empty box in dilute bleach/dishwashing soap solution. Scrub, rinse and dry thoroughly. Fill with new litter. Repeat with four of the five remaining boxes, one a day, so the cats always have five boxes. I don’t clean the oldest box with the leftover old litter in it. I just toss and replace it.

    OK, now I’ll go back and read the comments and wait for Cat Protective Services to arrive at my door.

    • Lynn says:

      I love the idea of marking the boxes with the purchase date! I know they do get scratched up and it’s impossible to get those scratch marks clean. Also, marking them when last cleaned would be a great idea, since, as I get older, details like that are harder and harder to remember! Thanks for the fab idea!

  10. Donna says:

    I scoop out waste every time they have a poo so the minimum is twice a day, I use Oko cats best so do a full clean out every 3-4 weeks using a little of washing up liquid then rinsing with boiling water and a pet safe spray called Safe4

  11. nancy harkness says:

    I have two Ragdoll cats. Sophie is a seal color point who is 8yrs old and Jedda is a male Lynx seal color point who is just 10 mos old. I have 4 litter boxes, one upstairs in the master bath, and 3 in the basement. I clean them out at least 2 times a day, sometimes more often. I thoroughly empty the litter & wash them out every month or so. If I don’t follow this routine our Sophie will poo outside the box. She is our little princess but she also keeps me on my toes. Can’t say that I blame her.

  12. Jennifer says:

    4 cats and 4 litter boxes. Two boxes next to the laundry room and two boxes in the master bathroom. I clean them a minimum of 4 times a day. I add litter whenever they get a little low and clean all the boxes out once a month with Fabuloso.

  13. Lisa Reier says:

    I scoop twice a day & put in new boxes & litter every month. Litter boxes are not expense so I pitch them often. They get so scratched up, I can’t see reusing them, but I spot clean them always using white vinegar.

  14. Valerie Gudorf says:

    This site is great! I’ll be getting a ragdoll kitten in about six months, and I want to make sure I start everything off on the right foot, so questions about how best to handle litter have been among the things foremost on my mind. I’m at home all day, so will have the time to truly bond with my precious and take good care of him 24/7. I’ve been thinking I’ll need two boxes, one for upstairs and one for down. Is that about right? Can I get away with only one? Needless to say, I expect I’ll need to scoop several times a day in order to maintain a box kitty will be willing to use, as well as to keep box odor at a minimum. What’s the best litter to buy toward this end?

    • ChristyB says:

      I just discovered it a few weeks ago myself and I love it too!

      Personally I wouldn’t have even considered having a cat if it wasn’t for the TidyCat Breeze Litter System.

      I live in less than 900sf with no place to hide the litter box – it’s out in plain view in the bathroom. Which is basically visible from nearly every part of the house.

      There is literally zero smell. I have a couple of non-cat owning friends that are under strict orders for truth telling for a smelly house. They always comment that they can’t believe that there is literally zero odor.

      You can put your nose to the box and can’t smell a thing.

      Good luck on your new kitty and have fun!!

    • Dementia Boy says:

      Hi, Valerie, and welcome to fluffbutt land!!

      We just had a discussion about litter–heck if I can find it. Maybe someone else will come along and remember where it is. (I’ll ask Jenny.) As I remember, World’s Best Cat Litter and Dr. Elsey’s were the top two mentioned, but other folks were just as enthusiastic about their brands.

      Litter scoop: The Litter Lifter, no ifs, ands or buts. That’s the actual name of it. It’s apparently available everywhere except a place I went this weekend, wherein a clerk told me that all scoops lift litter. (I apparently look as dum as I am.)

      It’s been a long time since I’ve had a kitten, but I’d say definitely have one box upstairs and one box downstairs. That’s a long way to travel for a little one–or an elderly one. Maybe others can weigh in with the type of box (we discussed this, too.) Kitty has to be able to get into it easily. The NVR Miss is low in front, and it works for Patti’s Pink Sugar–Patti and Janet, would it work for an itty bitty kitty?

    • Jenny says:

      Hey Valerie,

      You might be interested in my book, A Ragdoll Kitten Care Guide: Bringing Your Ragdoll Kitten Home. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1481107232/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1481107232&linkCode=as2&tag=floppycatscom-20

      I mention in the book that it’s important to have the same litter and same food the kitten had at the breeder’s house for at least the first two weeks while they are getting used to you home. Then if you want to transition them to another litter or food, you can in time.

      We had a discussion about litter the other day and litterbox essentials – here it is – http://www.floppycats.com/what-are-your-litterbox-essentials.html

      a long time ago, a vet told me that you should have 1 litterbox per floor per cat. if you want to risk your little guy (who has a little bladder) to accidents, then yes, go with one litterbox. if you want him to be comfortable, then i would get two at the very least.

      hope that helps,
      jenny

      • Dementia Boy says:

        Please remind me–everyone!!–not to attempt to answer questions about baby kittens unless they’re feral or orphans less than a week old. Any topic relating to cats less than 15 years old should bear the line, “Dementia Boy, we know you mean well, but you have no idea what you’re talking about.” Unless it has to do with mad scientist stuff, and I’m pretty good at that. (Yeah, so was Dr. Frankenstein.

        Thank you =)

  15. Lisa Barrett says:

    So I’m going to begin w/ a disclaimer: Prior to seeing this video by Jackson Galaxy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34cHfvYOYS0#t=11 – PARTICULARLY the part beginning at 3 min 45 seconds, I used to scrub the boxes monthly and replace all the litter. However, Jackson’s logic made sense to me so and since switching to our current system we’ve had nary an issue or odor. So….

    Currently we have 6 boxes for 7 cats/fosters/strays. My husband scoops the boxes daily, twice if need be. Scoops of fresh litter (Swheat Scoop) are added when litter level gets low.

    Approx. every 4-5 months (or a quick spot clean if needed) he takes Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes (http://www.seventhgeneration.com/Disinfecting-Wipes?vx24scG34=1390726&variation=lemongrass-citrus) and cleans the interiors by tilting the box to one side so all the litter shifts and he scrubs the exposed area clean. Rotate the box, tilt, scrub exposed area, repeat. It works surprisingly well.

    Since he scoops the waste regularly and thoroughly, we find the boxes just don’t get messy. Maybe this has something to do w/ their diets as well. If the litter needed entirely replaced he would but it never does.

    An additional note about the wipes – I REALLY dislike the Lemongrass citrus scent and we all know cats don’t like citrus either so we were a leery when we tried them. However, the smell dissipates as it dries and the cats have never rejected the box after it’s just been cleaned so they must be fine w/ it too.

    Excellent discussion topic, Jenny. I’ve enjoyed reading the responses.

    • Wow every 4-5 months? I would think there would be a lot of nasty germs multiplying from urine etc. Maybe I am wrong and I don’t mean to criticize but I would think once a month to entirely clean out the box and disinfect would be the minimum. Even with scooping as much as I do litter does get kind of rancid after 3 weeks for sure.

    • Dementia Boy says:

      I was really surprised when Jackson said that. He obviously didn’t know Jolie and Zen.

    • Lisa B. says:

      So I brought this up w/ the husband and he told me I was quite misinformed! He wipes the boxes down every 3-5 weeks w/ touch-ups in between. Since coming down w/ Fibromyalgia, Ian took over a lot of the day-to-day care of the cats and apparently I’ve lost touch w/ reality :)

  16. I have two kittens, one box…for now. It’s working perfectly. I scoop every time one of them goes in – probably 6 or so times a day. I completely dump out the litter and soak in hot water and white vinegar every two weeks. Since this is in MY bathroom I need to make sure it’s crazy clean!

  17. Princess P says:

    I clean the litter boxes 2x daily and when the boxes get real nasty (1mo-3mos) I clean them out with a hose and then spray vinegar in them let them sit for about an hour and then wipe dry. I then use extra virgin coconut oil, I spread it with a paper towel, making sure to get the botton really good and then spread it onto the the sides (coconut oil is realy good for killing bacteria,fungi,etc… and is a safe oil for pets aspca it helps to scoop the litter without effort.

  18. Here is an excerpt from Dr Fosters and Smith that I think is good and may be helpful…hope it’s ok to post it.

    “What is the best way to control litter box odors?
    Scrupulously clean litter boxes have no smell. There are odor absorbing gels and odor control spray powders to help eliminate odors in and around your cat litter boxes. However, the best and healthiest way to control litter box odors is to keep it clean. This entails daily scooping of urine and waste clumps and at least weekly changing of the entire litter contents and any litter pan liners. You can simplify litter box cleaning with an automatic litter box. These rake away waste periodically throughout the day, often just a few minutes after your cat exits the litter pan.”

  19. Jean says:

    I have three extra large litter boxes for my Ragdolls and found a really good brand with a glossy inside that “used” litter and waste doesn’t cling to, so they scoop really clean with no messy interior. I scoop at least twice daily (am and pm) and whenever I detect they have left feces in the boxes because they don’t always bury them deep enough to prevent odor. The boxes by “Cat id” stay remarkably clean inside, so I usually give them a thorough cleaning only once a month or so.

  20. Diane says:

    We have 3 cats, and 3 litterboxes (I know it should be #of cats + 1 for litterboxes, but they are big).

    I work three 12 hour shifts, so the days I am home, I scoop a few times a day, and the days I work I try to scoop when I get home from work.

    I dump the litter probably every 4-6 weeks and clean the boxes with Hot water and whatever Pet waste/odor remover/cleaner brand we have at the time. We like natures miracle and we just ordered fizzion.

    Baking Soda in the bottom of the box really does help with odors!

  21. Erica says:

    Since my cat is allowed outside,she doesn’t use the litterbox often, so I scoop once a day. I usually wash the box out about once a month. I use bleach in hot water, and if there is litter stuck to the bottom, I put a little dish soap in the box and rinse with the water hose first. Then I let it dry outside. I’ve thought about alternatives to bleach, but I’m not sure other cat safe cleansers are as effective at killing germs.

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