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How Often Should I Clean My Cat's Litter Box?

By Pug Puppies Massachusetts

Changing the Kitty Litter
It's a problem every cat owner has; how to dispose of your kitty's nastier bits. You have to consider a number of things, from how many cats you have to your abilities to the odor issue. Let's start with cat litter.

Cat litter comes in three basic types: ordinary clay litter, clumping litter, and absorbent crystals. There are also organic options made of wood by-products that you can treat more or less like clay litter.

Clay litter is the cheapest option, and the most commonly used, but is also the most problematic. It doesn't hold smells in well, for one thing, and you must change all the litter when you change out the cat's litter. You can find a baking-soda based cat litter deodorizer, and that seems to work well with eliminating kitty odors. Clay cat litter should be changed every three days in general. If you have a lot of cats (that's three or more) you may find yourself changing it every day. If you only have one very tidy cat, you may be able to get away with fishing out her solid waste and disposing of that, then changing the litter as infrequently as once a week. Your nose will tell you.

If you have more than one cat, or if your cat is one of those unfortunate stinky kitties, you should consider clumping litter. This looks very sandy in texture, and some cats won't use it. But if yours will, you can fish out the solid waste and the clumps of litter every day. This largely eliminates the odor problem, and you will save money in the long run because you can wait as long as a month between litter changes.

Another option that I haven't had much luck with is the crystal litter option. These litters use absorbent blue and white crystals that have about the same pebbly consistency as clay litters. They're supposed to absorb kitty urine, neutralizing the odor. You should add new litter daily, fishing out solid waste and turning the litter over so that the urine-soaked crystals are evenly distributed. I have a lot of cats right now, and no matter what I did, I couldn't get the crystals to absorb urine properly. I don't know if you'd have the same problem with just one or two cats, but I suspect you might. If your other litter works well, you should just avoid this one.

For the odor problem, in pet stores you can find activated charcoal in containers that will absorb your kitty odors. I was skeptical of these, but they work beautifully. Get a covered litter box and put the activated charcoal on top of the lid for best results. And the charcoal lasts practically forever, too; you just have to freshen it every six months or so by exposing it to sunlight for several hours.

Beyond litter, there are other things you might look at for disposing of kitty's waste. You can get a motorized litter box, for instance; these gadgets sweep the litter for solid parts, dumping it tidily into a plastic bag for you to remove and dispose of. You never have to touch anything nasty, just push a button. The drawbacks: price, phobic kitties, and unreliability. These boxes cost around a hundred dollars each, and if the mechanism gets wet they will break. Well, cats pee in litter boxes, don't they? There's a fair chance your gadget will get doused at some point, especially if you have a kitty that doesn't like them. How would you feel if you had to potty where you'd Seen Things Move earlier in the day? Cats are smart, and some just won't put up with this.

You can also train your cat to use the toilet, if you start early. You'll have to order a kit to do it, but once it's done all you have to do is flush. (For that matter, I've seen films of cats flushing their own toilets when they finish!) Older cats won't take to it at all, but when kittens start using the litter box, you can train them to do it.

No matter what litter method you use, be sensitive to the cat, and don't introduce anything abruptly. Cats don't like change, and swapping their reliable clay litter for that newfangled crystal stuff may result in Kitty doing her number in your favorite shoes. Read the directions on the litter package for specific directions on introducing Kitty to new litter.

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