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Bugs in Cat Litter: What Are They and How to Get Rid of Them

by Ben Doyle | Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Have you ever gone to scoop your cats litter box and noticed that it’s full of bugs and flies?

Although it’s quite rare, as pet carers, we’ve seen this more than once.


  1. What the hell are these little beasts?
  2. How do you get rid of them, and
  3. How do you prevent them from coming back?

Key Takeaways

  • The bugs in your cat’s litter box could be fruit flies, fungus gnats, tapeworms, litter beetles or silverfish.
  • As gross as they are, litter box bugs aren’t dangerous. That said, if you think they might be tapeworms, take your cat to the vet for treatment.
  • You’ll most often find bugs in organic litter like wood, corn, wheat, walnut etc. as they like the damp and feed on organic material.
  • Good litter box hygiene is the key to getting rid of and preventing bugs and flies from infesting your cat’s litter box.

Types of Bugs You Might Find in Your Cat’s Litter

Believe it or not, there are several types of bugs and flies that you could find in your cat’s litter box. These include;

  • Fruit flies
  • Fungus gnats
  • Maggots
  • Tapeworms
  • Litter beetles
  • Silverfish

Why These Bugs Get Into the Litter Box

There are a few reasons why you might find bugs in your cat’s litter box. Different bugs have different reasons for being there.

Fruit Flies and Fungus Gnats

The most common bugs you’ll find in the litter box are fruit flies and fungus gnats. They’re attracted to damp spaces and feed on organic matter like corn and grass, etc.


If you haven’t changed your litter for a while and it’s hot, you might also find maggots. Flies always lay their eggs in dirty places and a litter box is a good place. It only takes 24-48 hours for fly eggs to hatch. If you missed a bit while scooping, you might notice them next time you scoop.


Tapeworms look like small white grains of rice. They’re a parasite that lives in your cat’s digestive tract and comes out in your cat’s poo. In most cases, this is very treatable.

Litter Beetles and Silverfish

Litter beetles and silverfish like damp conditions and feed on proteins and carbohydrates. It’s quite rare to find litter in a litter box. That said, there are stories on forums from people who have found them.

How to Get Rid of Bugs in Cat Litter

The good news is that it’s easy to get rid of bugs and flies in the litter box.

Dispose of the litter by emptying it into a bag and giving the tray a good clean will get rid of them.

Give the tray a good wash with a mild soap like Fairy Liquid or litter box cleaner.

Then dry the litter box, thoroughly.

How to Prevent Bugs From Getting Into the Litter Box

Like getting rid of bugs, preventing them from getting into it in the first place is easy.

Change the Type of Litter You Use

In almost all cases, bugs find their way into the litter box when you use organic litter. This includes corn, walnut, wood, wheat and paper-based litter.

In fact, people have found bugs in bags of organic litter

They often become damp which is what these bugs like. Plus, many of them feed on organic matter.

Also, if you use soil as an emergency cat litter, you might find you bring bugs in with it.

The simplest solution is to change the type of litter you use. Oftentimes, this will stop the problem altogether.

Read More: The Best Cat Litter

Scoop the Litter More Often

Cat pee can cause the litter tray to become damp if you don’t scoop often enough.

If you insist on using organic litter, scoop the litter box at least twice a day. This will reduce the chances of finding bugs.

Do a Full Clean At Least Once a Week

Do a full empty and clean at least once a week, especially if you use natural litter.

Combined with regular scooping, this will keep bugs away.

Take the Top Off Covered Litter Boxes

Covered litter boxes are damper than uncovered trays. This is because there is nowhere for moisture to escape.

Bugs and flies can and will find a way in as the damp environment inside a covered litter box is ideal.

So, try removing the top.

Take Your Cat to the Vet

If you suspect the critters in your cat’s litter box are tapeworms, take them to the vet. In most cases, this is easy to treat.

In Conclusion

Finding bugs and/or flies in your cat’s litter box can come as a bit of a shock. We have also seen the guilt on our customer’s faces when they see it.

The good news is that as gross as they are, they’re not dangerous and the problem is an easy one to fix.

Photo of author

Ben Doyle

Ben Doyle co-owns Pet Checkers with his wife, Vicki. He spends his days looking after all kinds of animals, from dogs to eagles. When he's not taking care of animals, he's writing about them.

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