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Litter box

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Cat-box odor can be eliminated through use of clumping litter products and scooping at least once a day to remove urine and feces – more often if more than one kitty uses the box. Clumping litters are more expensive pound for pound than coarser clay litters, but they reduce or eliminate the weekly need to dump out and clean the box, in turn greatly reducing over time the amount of litter you throw out.

 

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Add fresh litter to the box each day to maintain a depth of about two inches. Animal-care experts such as those at the Humane Society recommend having at least one litter box per cat.

Use a slotted plastic cat-box scoop to sift wastes from the litter. Feces generally present few problems if dry, since few litter grains will stick during removal. However, be careful to avoid breaking up urine clumps while scooping – this is what will leave crumbs and smaller clumps that will eventually smell up the box, forcing a fresh litter changeover. Clumps that have stuck to the sides or bottom of the box can usually be shaken or tapped loose before scooping. Throw out soiled litter in the trash; sealing the waste in plastic bags will cut down on odor. Plastic supermarket bags and sacks or newspaper delivery “tubes” can be re-used in this way so long as they’re not torn.

 

Caution: Never discard soiled litter in a toilet or down a drain. Doing so will quickly clog drains because clay expands in the presence of water.

Avoid shaking the scoop or the box excessively during cleaning to keep dust at bay. Wash your hands after cleaning the cat box. Pregnant women should let someone else in the household do this job to avoid toxoplasmosis, an illness caused by a parasite that can be present in the dust, which may harm unborn children.

You may need to stick with one brand of litter or avoid using perfumed varieties. Some cats are sensitive to changes in litter composition, while others can’t (or won’t!) tolerate perfumes.

It’s a good idea to use a drop cloth, rug remnant or plastic mat under and around the litter box as a “walk-off mat” to help cats dry their feet somewhat after leaving the box and to reduce litter tracking around the house. This will also reduce or eliminate the need to disinfect the floor under and around the litter box.

When it comes time to clean out and wash the cat box and drop cloth or mat, put on protective gloves and wash all items in very hot water and mild soap or hand dishwashing liquid. Try to use an unscented soap since some odors, particularly citrus, can repel cats and cause them to avoid the box. Rinse completely and dry thoroughly before replacing litter and returning the box to service. If you must disinfect the box, use a chlorhexidine-based product, available from veterinarians. Avoid using any chlorine bleach. Bleach will disinfect the box, but your cat can detect its odor long after you’ll think it has been rinsed away. Bleach also can form toxic vapors when combined with the ammonia in urine.

References:

Dumb Friends League / Humane Society of Denver, CO: cat care page.

Don Aslett in The Cleaning Encyclopedia: Your A to Z Illustrated Guide to Cleaning Like the Pros.

 

Litter box:  Created on November 3rd, 2009.  Last Modified on June 21st, 2011

 

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