Whether you have one cat or many, knowing how to keep a litter box clean and odor free isn’t just about keeping your home looking and smelling sweet. It’s about your cats’ comfort and health, too.
I’ve lived with cats my entire adult life. It just doesn’t feel like home to me without at least one kitty curled up in a sunny spot by the window or purring away next to me on the bed. Like many cat people, I have a problem saying “no” when I hear of other cats needing a place to live, so I’ve had as many as four at a time.
That’s a lot of cats. Oh, it doesn’t seem like it when you’re cuddled up to them in bed, but it becomes painfully obvious the moment you fall behind on litter box duties. So, over the years, I’ve learned a few things about how to keep a litter box clean and odor free without spending all my time on it.
How To Keep A Litter Box Clean and Odor Free
1. Have a separate litter box for each cat
I’ve been very fortunate that my cats have always gotten along with each other, even when I’ve introduced new ones to the house. Oh, now and then they tussle, but all cats do that — it’s one of the ways the play together. While they’re fine sharing toys and both food and water bowls, I’ve also learned they do not like to share litter boxes. I can’t say I blame them: my cats have such different personalities and cleaning habits. The big orange one is a snuggler but rather lazy when it comes to burying his business. The black one? Well, he’s a dork but fastidious when it comes to litter box habits.
Having a separate box ensures that each cat feels safe doing his business in private. It also keeps them from tracking through each other’s messes when you can’t scoop right away. In the event one of your cats gets an upset tummy or UTI — something some cats are quite prone to — you’ll also know which one needs to get to the vet pronto.
2. Make sure there is enough litter in the box at all times
With clumping litter, you need at least four inches, so there’s enough clay coating it to absorb the waste and hide the odors. With a high-quality natural wood litter like ökocat, you just need a couple of inches. That’s because the lightweight wood particles absorb liquids quickly while matching the performance of clay litter. You get sustainability without compromise, something no other litter delivers, so you and your cats can be better than clay.
3. Scoop the box frequently
No one enjoys scooping the litter box. It can be a messy, smelly chore. With clay litters, you’ll often find yourself needing to chisel hardened clumps on the bottom and sides of the box. Then, to get the odor out of your home, you’ll want to put the scooped up clumps into a plastic bag, tie it up, and put it in an outdoor trash can. With an all-natural wood litter like ökocat, you get 7-day odor control, and there’s no cement-like mess to pry up: just scoop and flush. Yep, flush! That’s something you can’t do with clay litters, and it goes a long way to keeping cat box odors out of your home.
4. Dump and wash the litter box weekly
It’s tempting to just keep topping up the cat box with fresh litter after each scoop, but that’s not good for your cats’ health. It also leads to odors building up which you may not notice yourself but can count on guests detecting as soon as they enter your home.
Once a week, dump the entire contents of your litter box and give it a quick wash. Just fill the box with hot water and add a little dish soap. Let that sit a few minutes then dump it down the toilet and flush — something you can do if you’re using a biodegradable litter. (Clay litter users should find another way to dispose of the mess since that clay can build up in your pipes and cause serious plumbing issues down the road.) Use newspaper to dry the box if you’re in a hurry, or let it sun dry if your cats are the patient sort. A few minutes in the sunshine will also kill any lingering bacteria, leaving your box fresh and clean like new. Once it’s dry, fill it up with fresh litter and give your cats some belly rubs.
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