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How To Set Up An Effective Litterbox Maintenance Routine

As cat owners, we need to make sure that the litterboxes meet our cat's demands. With some cats, this is not an easy task! To keep Kitty happy, you must have enough litterboxes of the right kind, put them in the right places and fill them with just the right amount of the right litter. Even if you got everything right, your job isn't done. Now is the time to setup an effective litterbox maintenance routine. 

Before we deal with the litterbox maintenance routine, a few words for new cat owners.

 

If you're still wondering about the basics, we have you covered. Consider these guidelines when you set up the litterboxes - 

How Many Litterboxes Should You Have?​

How To Choose The Right Litterbox

How To Choose The Right Cat Litter

What's the best location for the litterboxes?

 

These guides are great for first time cat owners but also for those dealing with a cat who's not using the litterbox. If that's why you're reading this article, you should definitely take a look at this article - 

How To Solve Litterbox Problems In Cats: The Ultimate Guide  

 

Assuming your kitties all use the box regularly and you have your initial setup done right, let's move on to more routine matters.

 

Why You Should Have A Litterbox Maintenance Routine

One of the most important things about the litterbox is to keep it clean.

 

Nobody likes a dirty bathroom and that goes for cats as well as humans. In fact, cats are famous for being very clean creatures. Feral cats keep changing the spot they use as their toilets. Living at home, your cat has no choice but to use the same spot: The litterbox. It is up to you to keep that spot as clean and fresh as possible.

 

You should make cleaning into a routine because cats need stability. Cleaning the box "whenever" just won't work. If you're around to clean the litterbox three times a day on a weekend but then fail to clean it at all during the week, that's not good enough for your cat's needs. What you should aim for is a consistent routine that includes regular cleaning of the box at fixed intervals.

 

How often should you clean the litterbox?

Good question. The rule of thumb is to clean the box between once to twice a day. Some cats are so fastidious, they need their box to be cleaned after every use - in which case you may want to invest in an automatic self-cleaning box to help you maintain a state of perfect cleanliness. How to tell how often your cat's box should be cleaned? We have a guide just for that - 

How Often Should I Clean the Litter Box?

 

How To Set Up An Effective Litterbox Maintenance Routine

 

Once you have your ideal cleaning frequency down, consider the following - 

1. How long does it take you to clean the litterboxes?

2. At what times can you regularly clean the boxes? Mornings? Evenings? Or maybe it's the middle of the day?

3. Can other people help you out when you're not available? 

 

Based on the answers, set up your routine, focusing on what times each box gets cleaned up every day and who will be doing the cleaning (if there's more than one of you). 

 

Tips for effective litterbox maintenance -

  • Use a good scoop. It will help you clean the box quickly and more efficiently.
  • Keep the tools of the trade nearby. Have your scoop and plastic bags ready. 
  • Stock up on litter and make sure you always have enough for topping up the litterbox.

 

Once you set up a routine that's right for you and for your cat, cleaning the litterboxes becomes much easier. You have to put less thought into it and can just work as part of your regular daily routine.


Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

Comments (7)

if i dont use arm n hammer clumping my cats wont use the box and i tried a covered box it failed i had to take the lid off my cats are picky
I have a Himalayan cat that was given to me. I was told it was a male; age uncertain. Now I have discovered the cat is female. So I have a female cat named "Winston". Winston is the most loving, calm and beautiful cat I have ever owned. However, I cannot get Winston to use the litterbox unless I happen to pick her up and sit her in it as just the right time. I keep two litterboxes; keep them clean and have tried putting them in various locations. I want to keep Winston but cannot continue with this problem. HELP.
My cats don't mind sharing... well except for one. He goes outside and does his business and then comes back in. It works well for us so far. :)
Interesting and thorough information covering all the basics I think. It's good to emphasize getting advice for problems. I had a female cat that would spray urine in her litter box and from the age for about 4 increasingly failed to poo in it. No matter what litter I used, box offered or giving her second tray the behaviour continued. It was so annoying, and tempting to punish her but I knew there must be some major reason in her head for her to start doing this. It took me years of seeking advice and information before a change in vet gave me accurate health information for one of my cats - turned out she had chronic bladder inflammation and not just the acute cystitis my previous vet had diagnosed. I then read an article about cats refusing to use litter if associated with pain. I discussed it with the vet and they agreed it was almost certainly down to the severe pain she had when urinating. I was just lucky she used it for the painful urine as that would have been much harder to clear up! I was so in awe of her once I learned how much pain she had to be in all the time, she was an incredibly loving and gentle soul.
Our situation for our 2 male cats when we moved to a new home 4 1/2 years ago was easily solved. Before we moved, we had one box (hooded) in our laundry room and one in the dining room that was rarely ever used. The laundry room in our new house was very small but the door leading out to the garage from the laundry room presented a great solution. My husband installed a kitty/dog door in the door leading into our garage and both boxes are in there. We only open the big garage door if I'm taking my car out. They've learned that when they hear the garage door opening,  they rush back inside.
I use Catsan cat litter, which is expensive in my opinion, but lasts longer than the cheap generic stuff, is waaaaaaaay lighter on my back and much easier to empty out and clean from the tray (only downfall is it comes out on their paws and gets everrrrrrrywhere, I have a dustbuster handy for such occasions, lol).  I remove any poo from the box at the time it's dropped off there, and on cleaning day I scrub the boxes out once a week with dish soap (I was told a dot of dish soap is the safest, never to use detergent or bleach as the smell can make the cat reluctant to go inside).   I also use a high powered hose gun on the bottom part of the tray in the garden to really get all the grain and dirt out of it.
 
I don't bother with liners, I did try liners to try and preserve the bottom of the tray and make it easier to clean but Sabbath just started tearing the liners out like it was a game (either that or he didn't like it).   I have two cat litter trays (one for each cat) but for some reason they seem to prefer the one that's in my room.  Yes, I have a litter box in my bedroom, and nope, there isn't any smell.
 
I've never had any probs so far with cats going anywhere else in the house except a litter box and the only smell is the immediate poo smell (which gets removed pronto, lol).
My cat particularly likes the Blue Buffalo Quick Clumping Cat Litter. Never switching to anything else.
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