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How Often Should You Clean, Scoop & Change Cat Litter?

by Ben Doyle | Reading Time: 4 minutes

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If you want your cat(s) to use their litter tray, you need to keep it clean and tidy. Otherwise, you might find they do their business in other parts of the house.

And no one wants that!

So you might wonder, ‘How often should you change cat litter?’

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How often cats use their litter tray
  • How often you should scoop their litter
  • How often should you change cat litter
  • When to wash the litter box, and
  • Why some cats don’t like it when you change their litter

How Often Do Cats Use the Litter Tray?

A single cat can use their litter tray 3-5 times a day. Most cats pee 2-4 times a day and poop once or twice a day.

That said, their toileting schedule depends on several factors, including;

  • Their diet
  • How much water they drink
  • The temperature of your home
  • Exercise levels
  • Medical conditions and
  • Medication

Kittens tend to go to the toilet more often than adult cats. Some kittens might refuse to use their litter tray is you don’t keep it clean.

How Often Should You Scoop a Litter Box?

In an ideal world, you’d scoop your cat’s litter as soon as they’ve done their business. For many people though, that’s not practical.

If you can, scoop your cat’s litter twice a day to remove any mucky stuff. Once in the morning and again in the evening. You should scoop even the best cat litter at least once a day.

How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?

As a general guide, replace your cat litter every week. That’ll keep most fussy felines happy.

That said, you might only need to dispose of their old litter and replace it with new once every two or three weeks. Sometimes even less.

At the end of the day, the frequency with which you replace their litter depends on 3 things;

  1. If your cats share their litter trays and how many cats use them
  2. The type of cat litter you use, and
  3. The type of litter box you have

Some manufacturers of cat litter fresheners their products will reduce the frequency with which you need to change the litter. That their products cover up nasty smells of ammonia and poo. From a hygienic standpoint, this is nonsense.

How Many Cats Use Them

The more cats that use the litter tray, the more often you’ll need to change it.

If you have one cat who mostly does its business outside, you might only need to change the litter every few weeks. A quick poop scoop every now and then might be all it needs. That said, if they use their tray all the time, you’ll need to change it more often.

The more cats that use the tray, the more often you’ll need to replace it.

A good rule of thumb is to have one litter tray per cat, plus one extra.

If you have several cats, it might be worth investing in a cat litter waste bin. It’s quicker and easier scooping into a bin than it is a poo bag.

The Type of Cat Litter You Use

The type of litter you use will have a big impact on how often you’ll need to change it.

For example, some non-clumping cat litters break down and turn to mush when your cat has a wee. In this case, you might need to replace the litter twice a week.

Clumping cat litter clumps when it gets wet. Instead of breaking down when it gets wet, it forms clumps. This means you’ll only need to remove the clump instead of having to replace the whole tray.

Also, although it’s quite rare, organic cat litter can become infested with bugs or flies if not cleaned often. If you use corn, wheat, walnut or wood litter, scoop more often.

The Type of Litter Tray You Have

Consider this;

  • The more often you can separate soiled litter from clean litter, and
  • The easier you can make it

The less often you’ll have to replace it.

Litter boxes come in all shapes and sizes these days. From the bog-standard litter tray, to sifting litter trays to self-cleaning litter boxes.

Traditional litter trays need manual scooping. Not only is this a bit gross, but it’s also easy to leave soiled litter in the tray.

Sifting litter cat litter make separating soiled litter easy. The clean litter falls through the sieve and leaves the soiled stuff behind. This not only makes cleaning the tray much easier, but it also means you get ALL the mucky stuff.

And then there are self-cleaning cat litter boxes. Many work in a similar way to sifting litter trays but they’re automatic. All you need to do is remove the muck every few days.

Read More: The Best Cat Litter Trays and Boxes

How Often Should You Wash Your Cat’s Litter Box?

Wash your cat’s litter box whenever you replace their litter. Washing up liquid and warm water is perfect for the job.

Don’t use strong detergents as the smell could put your cat off using their tray. Also, don’t use bleach as it can react to the ammonia in cat urine.

Regular washing will prevent the plastic in the litter tray from absorbing odours. This means you’ll have to replace their litter tray much less often.

Why Does My Cat Hate it When I Clean Their Litter Tray?

When you mess with your cat’s litter tray, you’re changing their territory.

Most cats don’t bother when you clean their litter tray. Others might hang around and wonder what you’re doing while you fish out their nuggets of poo.

When you replace their litter and wash their tray, you remove their smell. Some cats hate that.

That’s why your cat will often go and have a wee in their tray as soon as you replace their litter. They don’t need a wee, they’re re-marking their territory.

In Conclusion

Cleaning and changing your cat’s litter isn’t the most glamorous part of owning a cat. That said, it’s essential if you want your cat to be happy and not do their business in other parts of the house.

  • How often you change their litter will depend on;
  • How many cats you have
  • The type of litter you use, and
  • The type of litter tray you have

Scoop their tray at least once a day, twice is better. Replace their litter whenever you think it’s needed. If you want a rigid answer, do it once a week. And if you have a cat litter mat, clean that while you’re at it.

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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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