How often should you replace your cat’s litter box itself rather than the litter inside it?

I have been very specific in the question in the title because Google might be unsure about the article’s content. To be absolutely clear it’s about the possible need to change the litter box itself after a certain period of time because, through wear and tear, it will become scratched. Bacteria can hide in the scratches. This presents a health hazard to the cat using the box including the existing hazards of using cat litter which is inhaling dust to name one.

Ceramic litter boxes don't need replacing regularly as they do not harbour bacteria

Ceramic litter boxes don’t need replacing regularly as they do not harbour bacteria. Photo:

A veterinarian, Rachel Barrack, at Animal Acupuncture in New York City advises that cat owners should change the litter box every year. It is the first time that I have seen this advice. I had never considered changing the litter box every year until I read this advice.

I see the argument. It’s a good one and it is certainly worth considering but I am sure that a lot of cat owners will consider the advice extravagant. The advice is similar to that of providing the correct food bowl for domestic cats. Plastic food bowls can harbour bacteria which can lead to what is described as feline acne. All the experts advise either a metal or ceramic bowl to avoid this.

Cat litter boxes are often made of rigid plastic and therefore you might think that the same principles apply. Or you might argue that you can clean a litter box thoroughly and frequently with an antibacterial solution and protect your cat that way. One problem with over-cleaning a litter box is that it removes the natural odours which attracts a domestic cat to it. The last thing cat owners want is what is euphemistically described as “inappropriate elimination”. When cat’s pee and poop outside the litter box it is not inappropriate from their point of view by the way.

You can make up your own mind about how often you should replace the litter box. No doubt it depends upon the budget. The size of litter boxe is important and you can read about that by clicking this link.

Quick research tells me that you can buy stainless steel litter trays. That precludes the need to replace it annually if you want to follow the advice of Doctor Rachel Barrack. You can even buy ceramic cat litter boxes which once again precludes the need to replace it but no doubt you would not want to as they are bound to be very expensive!


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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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