How Often Do You Clean The Cat Litter?

Be honest, how often do you clean your cat’s litter tray? You have to be honest, now. Is your cat walking on used cat litter sometimes?

I clean the cat litter once per day. That was when my late lady cat used the litter. She used the litter tray about twice per day. Once for a pee and once for defecation. Although later on she peed more often during the day. When that happened I should have made it a routine to clean the tray more than once per day. I did occasionally. At the time, I felt that was OK but…ideally I now feel that I should clean the tray after use so that when it is reused it is totally clean. Do you think that way? Can you achieve that? You may not be able to because you are out all day, most days.

How often do you clean the cat litter tray?
How often do you clean the cat litter tray? Montage by Michael from a picture by gravyphig.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The Wild Cats: In the wild, wild cats sometimes do have toilet areas but they are much larger than a litter tray. They are not going to use the same spot each time. It is the size of the tray that is confining.


Michael J. Fox, a well known vet and author says:

“The litter box should be cleaned three to four times daily, and fresh litter put in to replace the soiled litter as needed…”

This is incorrect, really, because if you have one cat and that cat uses the tray once per day it is pointless cleaning it four times. However, he makes a good and strong point.

The point he is making is that when we go to the toilet in our bathroom we expect the previous user, which might have been us, to have flushed it! We don’t expect to have to flush the toilet first. That would be considered disgusting. Yet there are many cat owners who expect their cats to accept that situation and worse, because they can’t flush it away! And we know how fastidiously clean cats are.

I wonder how they feel walking on their own pee and poo? Or worse still in households where there is more than one cat walking over another cat’s pee. It may be that he does not like the other cat and we know that pee is heavily scented. Cats are very sensitive to scent. This is the sort of scenario where a cat could become stressed.

There are also the health risks. A cat walking on another cat’s poo is likely to ingest it afterward when he licks his paws clean. This is a way diseases are transmitted (i.e. toxoplasmosis)

The point that I think is worth making is that there is a tendency to get a bit casual about cat litter. And I am not being critical of anyone. In multi-cat households, and there are lots of households with two cats, the work load in cat litter cleaning duties mounts considerably. There is an argument that there should be one litter tray per cat. I doubt whether many people follow this rule or suggestion.

Bearing in mind how clean cats like to be and how sensitive to scent they are, it would seem fair and proper that we clean the cat litter tray after each use and present our cat with clean litter every time he or she uses it. That is the target. I wonder how often that simple target is met in households across North America, Great Britain and elsewhere?

One of the most prominent cat behavior problems is “inappropriate elimination”. I actually dislike that often used phrase because for the cat it is appropriate to eliminate outside the litter for whatever reason and one good reason is that the litter is dirty. Persian cats are particularly sensitive to this. Some individual cats of any breed or randomly bred will be sensitive too.

Often “inappropriate elimination” could be re-written “inappropriate litter”

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18 thoughts on “How Often Do You Clean The Cat Litter?”

  1. I clean my one and only 4 y/o cat’s litter box after each use and I do try to be prompt about it and if I’m not available I ask someone reliable to do it because I’ve observed that if it is soiled with either poop or pee she chooses to do it on my shoes, pillows or couch, this behavior actually started at about the time she turned 2. When she came to live with me as a 1 month old kitten she automatically just went to her litter box when she needed to without any training/coaxing whatsoever. It was a breeze. As she got older she became fastidious about its cleanliness. So I keep it clean.

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