Litterbox Maintenance – The Complete Guide

Litterbox Maintenance


If you have a furry feline or two (or three, or four…) in your home, then you also have a litter box. Unfortunately, unlike a toilet, a litter box does not flush the waste away. It takes human intervention to prevent smells and other signs of mess and buildup from appearing in the cat’s bathroom. Litterboxes are known for producing an ammonia-type smell. In fact, the smell and clean-up often prevent many people from getting cats, no matter how much they may love them. The good news is that it’s possible to completely eradicate and prevent smells and other nasty situations from occurring within your furry friend’s litter box. Here are a few tips and pointers to keep you and kitty happy and healthy.

Understanding the Importance of a Clean Litterbox

First, it is imperative that you know why a clean litter box is important. There is, of course, the obvious reason: a litter box that is not maintained can make your entire house have the ammonia-based odor that cat owners know well. This smell can leach into clothing, bedding, towels, and pretty much anything else in your home. The smell is unpleasant at best, and enough to choke you at worst.

Your cat also suffers when their litter box is not cleaned. Most cats will refuse to use a dirty litter box. They will instead opt to “hold it in,” as long as possible, and, if necessary, end up going to the bathroom throughout the home. As with humans, when cats don’t urinate as needed, they can contract urinary tract infections.

Purchase the Right Size Box

Getting the right litter box is extremely important. If in doubt, always go for the larger sized litter box. A litter box that is too small will make your cat feel uncomfortable. It can also lead to them kicking the litter outside of the box. Litter gets everywhere when it gets outside of the box. It can be hard to clean all of it from outside of the box, which can lead to that terrible ammonia smell.

Litterbox Maintenance

To Line, or Not to Line?

Most pet stores and grocery stores sell litter box liners. These aren’t necessary but can help in maintenance, especially if you choose to use the non-style of litter. For some people, the liners lead to a greater mess than a non-lined litter box. It is best to try these out for yourself and decide whether or not they work for you.

Use Enough Litter

Make sure to give your kitty friend plenty of litter to use. You want the litter to fill the box 2” – 4” deep.  Some brands even recommend 3” – 5” deep.  Using too little litter can lead to a smelly box. Make sure to level it off every time you refill it.

Pooper Scooper

It is important to scoop deposits out of the litter box as often as possible, preferably at least twice a day. This prevents odors, but more importantly, it prevents diseases from spreading – they type that can be present in cat by-product. Also, be sure to wash your hands after scooping the litter box.

Litterbox Maintenance

Cleaning Time

There will come a time when you need to completely empty the litter box and give it a good scrub. The frequency of deep cleaning will depend on the type of litter you use. If you are scooping the litter box and notice there is a lot of stuck-on material, particularly on the bottom, or if it starts to smell no matter how often you scoop, it is time to give that box a deep clean. Typically this will need to be done once every week or two.

To clean the litter box, empty all of the litter into a bag, tie it off, and throw it away. Create a mixture of soapy water and thoroughly scrub the entire box, inside and out. If you use a cover, make sure to scrub that too. Next, mix one part bleach with 32 parts water and spray it all over the box and cover. Allow the box to dry in the sun, and then rinse and thoroughly dry off.

At this point, you can add fresh litter and start the cycle all over again. If you follow these steps, you and your furry friends will be on your way to living together in happy harmony.