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Cleaning and Maintaining a Cat Litter Box

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A cat smelling a litter box

Cats make great pets but keeping your house from smelling like a cat box can be a challenge. With regular cleaning and proper maintenance, your cat box can go unnoticed by you and your friends. This guide is about cleaning and maintaining a cat litter box.


Solutions: Cleaning and Maintaining a Cat Litter Box

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Make A Hidden Litter Box

I have found a great idea for a hidden kitty litter box! Go to the nearest thrift store find a decent sized two drawer night stand. Take top drawer out and cut the face of the drawer off. Glue or nail face back on to the front where drawer use to be.

Next, take kitty litter pan and cut it down to size so it will slide into bottom drawer.

Finally, cut a hole in the side of the night stand so your kitty can get in and out. You could put a little curtain on the outside of hole if you would like to.

Voila! You have a nice hidden kitty litter box. When you change litter just pull bottom drawer out. That easy. Hope this can be useful for cat owners. It was for me.

Source: I found this idea off of HGTV (Design on a Dime).

By Emily from Erlanger, KY

Tip: No Stick Kitty Litter

There is nothing I despise more than cleaning the litter box. Even when you dump it, there is still litter stuck to the bottom that you have to scrape out, and it stinks to all high heaven. Well, here's a way to keep the stink off and save yourself the trouble. Clean the box off and wipe dry. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with baking soda; pour in litter, and you are done. The next time you clean, there will be no clumps stuck to the litter box.

By Suzanne S.

Tip: Reuse Pet Food Bag Under Litter Box

I always keep newspaper under the litter boxes in case of "accidents". I found by cutting off the bottoms of the food bags, washing them and laying them flat; that they work well under the newspaper to keep any moisture away for the flooring.

By hoptownracer1 from USA

Tip: Kitty Litter Tip

Mya and Max, two housecats.

To keep clumping kitty litter from sticking to the bottom of the pan, spray it with non-stick cooking spray before adding the litter. It works like a charm!

These are my babies, Mya (left) and Max (right). They are spoiled rotten and totally inseparable. Anytime I take a picture of them it looks as if they're always hugging. Actually in this picture, Max took time out from attacking Mya to pose for a picture. He's such a bratty little brother!

By Melissa

Tip: Ice Cream Bucket for Used Kitty Litter

I use an ice cream bucket to put the litter clumps in. The top fits tightly so I don't have to worry about odor, and they are disposable. I asked friends to save the buckets for me so I have a couple dozen that I stored away for future use. It also has a handle which is handy when carrying it out to the dumpster.

    By ilovesophie [20]

    Tip: Check Litterbox Often And Other Tips

    Check the litterbox for solids every time you use the bathroom. You were going to wash your hands anyway.

    Instead of clumping or clay litter, use pine pellet bedding for horses. It's effective, inexpensive, has no unnatural chemicals, smells great, and lasts about twice as long as other litters. If you use pine pellet litter, you can tell by looking at it when you need to wash and refill the box. As it absorbs urine, the pellets turn into sawdust. When there are no more pellets, it's time to dump the box and start fresh.

    The same product is packaged for cats, as "Feline Pine," for about 3 times the price. Some pellet stove fuel is also okay to use for cat litter. If the label doesn't say it's okay for animal bedding, it can be toxic.

    Use hot soapy water and a toilet brush to scrub out the litter box. You can also put some borax or washing soda in the bucket. Rinse and dry thoroughly before refilling. Letting it air dry in the sun can help with odors. NEVER use chlorine bleach to clean a litterbox. Urine turns into ammonia, and mixing chlorine and ammonia results in toxic chlorine gas, not good for you or kitty. Don't try to deodorize it with citrus oil cleaners or vinegar. Both citrus and vinegar are effective cat-repellants.

    By Fishercat from Albany, NY

    Tip: Where to Keep the Litter Box?

    If you're like me and have multiple indoor cats, you need several litter boxes. It's often hard to find a spot to keep them where they're not too much of an eyesore and the litter that gets kicked out doesn't cause an issue.

    I've come up with two solutions.

    In the basement we keep the litter box inside of a dog crate (minus door). The cat food and water are stored on top. The litter stays inside the box and it's fairly well covered and protected from the dog (who is not interested in going inside the crate - lol!). Litterbox in the basement inside a dog crate.

    We have another litter box in the kid's bathroom. Extra kitty litter was constantly an issue on the floor, especially when damp feet came out of the bath, even though I keep a small whisk broom under the sink and sweep every time we scoop the box. To keep the litter contained, I purchased a tall sided plastic storage tub (often on sale after the holidays) and keep the litter box inside that. It has helped immensely. Litterbox in kids' bathroom.

    By Stephanie from Hillsboro, OR

    Tip: Tips for Maintaining a Cat Litter Box

    Litter boxes can get smelly and dirty very quickly, especially if you have multiple cats. Here are a few tips to keep your litter box clean and smelling fresh:

    • Use clumping cat litter do that you can thoroughly remove urine clumps.
    • Clean your litter box once a day.
    • Do a complete litter change at least once a month.
    • When you do a litter change scrub out the litter box with a mild soap and water. Dry thoroughly before adding new litter.
    • If odors persist, mix some baking soda into your cat litter. This will help absorb some odors.

    Tip: Keeping Litter From Sticking to the Cat Box

    An application of non-toxic paste wax to a new litter box will keep clumping litter from sticking to the sides and it will be much easier to clean.

    By Kim W from AZ

    Tip: Put Dirty Cat Litter in an Old Coffee Can

    Save the can that coffee came in and the lid. When empty, use the can to put dirty cat litter in, the kind that lumps and put the lid on top. This will keep the odor at bay and can be used several times. You will not have to go out to the garbage can to empty litter very often. When I need to empty it, I just pour it into a plastic bag from the grocery store and then take it to the garbage can.

    By Judy from FL

    Tip: Make Litter Box Tending Easier

    Get 4 or 5 litter boxes of the same size. Fill each one with a few inches of litter, or however much you use. Stack one on top of another. My cat can jump into the top box. When it's time to change the litter just remove the top most box. I use inexpensive plastic "busing" tubs that I get from a webrestaurant supply store. They are 7 inches high, less than four dollars each and stack-able. If you put enough litter in each box and dispose of it before any moisture gets to the bottom of pan, you can just pour the used litter out and the bottom of the pan will be clean. I use wood stove pellets for litter.

      By jean99 [6]

      Tip: Use the Litter Box Liners with Holes

      My solution for maintaining litter boxes is as follows: Because I hate to dip, lol, I bought the liners with the holes in them (Wal-Mart) blue box. I maintain 2 cat boxes; one for each kitty, of which I have 2.

      With this system you use clumping litter and every other day lift out the layer on top and it sifts the good litter down for the next day. Then just throw away the layer with the soiled litter.

      After keeping cats for years and having a smelly house, this seems to work best. For me, the convenience and the peace of mind of not having a stinky house makes this system worth while. Hope this helps. Blessings.

      Source: Saw this on Thrifty Fun about 4 months ago and it works.

      By fancy61 from northern Dayton area, OH

      Tip: Less Odors from the Cat Box

      When cleaning cat boxes, the ammonia smell lingers. Although ammonia is a weak base, it can also be a weak acid. Sure stinks, though. So let's add cat urine and notice it's PH level is also slightly acidic. My solution was to reduce the acidity by putting a small layer of wood ash from my fireplace in the bottom of the cat box, then add the litter. The lower PH of the ashes neutralizes the odor.

      Source: Chemistry class, 1967

      By bisonjump from Anaconda, MT

      Tip: Garbage Bag for Cat Litter Pan

      Insert a clean empty litter box into a large plastic trash bag. It should fit in the bag loosely. Dump the kitty litter into the the box. Using the bread tie twisters or other type plastic twisters, close the bag.

      When it is time to remove the dirty litter, pull the bag over the box and the litter will be contained in the plastic bag. I would only recommend this for cats that don't scratch very hard, or are declawed.

      By Mkymlp from NE PA

      Tip: Creative Cat Litter Box Tips

      I have 10 cat litter boxes for our "always full" cat shelter. Over the years we have learned several things to keep the litter costs down, keep things clean, and we make our own litter boxes for some of our big cats.

      First, we use large, high sided, plastic totes as litter boxes. We cut a hole in either the front or the side of the tote with a box cutter. (Be careful when using the cutter please.) These litter boxes fit our Maine Coon mixes (20 lbs. of big cat). The high sides of the boxes allow for any spraying incidents to stay within the box and keeps the litter inside the box as some cats love to really dig.

      Second, we have a roll of paper towels and a cleaned, reused dishwashing soap bottle (with a hand-written label on it) filled with a mixture of bleach and water in every room of the house. The mixture is 1/8 part bleach and the rest water. The paper towels and bleach mixture take care of any accidents right away. Having these cleaning supplies within easy reach helps us keep on top of things and is very cost effective.

      Third, we use cedar shavings as litter. This is the same type of litter used in small animal cages but we buy it at Wal-mart in very large, compressed bags. Cedar shavings smell wonderful, are very absorbent, have little to no dust, do not track all over the place as badly as most litter and it is bio-degradable. (A word to the wise, do not change your cats litter from one type to another all at once or you are doomed to failure. Go slow. It can take weeks or months, slowly mixing in some of the new litter to the old.) Cedar shavings are inexpensive and you'll feel how light weight the box is when compared to higher priced litter. But, you must change the box out completely about every 3-4 days. Unlike scoopable litters, shavings do not clump. On the plus side, cleaning and refilling the box is fairly easy. A trash can on wheels helps. Empty the litter box, use your handy bottle of bleach mix to clean it, wipe out with a paper towel and refill the box. Soon, you'll have this chore down to a science.

      By Marie from Rosenberg, TX

      Tip: Try Scoop Away Clumping Litter

      The previous solution covers the subject well. I will only add one comment: I'm not a spokesman for this product, but I have found that Scoop Away is by far the best clumping litter. Sometimes my cats get lazy and don't cover their "product," and Scoop Away leeches the odor very well; likewise, for the urine. You can even skip a day of cleaning. I have tried many other litters, but regret spending the money, even when they cost less.

      By Carolyn from Green Cove Springs, FL

      Tip: Use A Sealed Container For Used Clumping Litter

      Having had cats, and litter boxes, all my life I've tried every combination of things to make cleaning out the litter box quick, clean and easy.

      I've had the clay litter where you waited until it was pretty gross and then you threw it all away. That litter was heavy and a pain to clean up all at once. I've used flushable litter and kept the boxes in the bathroom. That's great if you don't mind litter tracking all over your bath mat every day. I've used pine litter so I just scooped the solids and then threw all the wet litter in the compost pile.

      I always found clumping litter more user friendly and it didn't waste any non soiled litter, but putting it in a plastic bag that I had to untie to use every time was just disgusting.

      I now use a container you get in the pet section of any store to dispose of the waste. It's a container with a sealed lid that is advertised for storing dog kibble in. It's completely air tight, so no stink comes out. I use a trash bag in it like a lidded trash can and I can wait until it's pretty full and then just take it to the trash bin outside. The top latches shut so nothing spills out and the dog doesn't do something gross. It's so much easier, completely odor controlling and child/doggy proof!

      By Panktty from Anderson, IN

      Tip: Use Hard Clumping Cat Litter

      Hard clumping litter makes it easier to notice when you need to fork out the clumps. Plus having an automatic battery operated air spray freshener nearby helps.

      By Vivian P.

      Tip: Litter Box Tips

      I have 2 cats and 2 litter boxes. I find it helpful to put many layers of old newspaper in them and then sand on top. Under the newspaper I sometimes put some baking powder. This absorbs the smell. I only let them use 1 box and keep the other clean, with its door to the wall.

      When I have no time to clean or when I travel, I can let them use the second box. When cleaning, I pull 2-3 layers of the newspaper out. It absorbs the urine and the clumped sand will stick on it. For the poo, I use the little shovel. When I wash the first box, I have the second for them and can put the first in the sunshine.

        By Leane [2]

        Tip: Littermaid Bins

        Line your littermaid plastic bins with grocery plastic bags. This keeps the waste bins from becoming soiled and they won't have to be replaced as often. Simply lift out the grocery bag each day and replace the bins when cracked. Cat litter miracle!

        By Melissa

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        Here are questions related to Cleaning and Maintaining a Cat Litter Box.

        Question: Keeping Litter from Sticking to Litter Box

        Can I use Pam to keep used litter from sticking inside the box, especially urine at the sides?

        By Patricia J

        Question: Litter Box Always Smells Like Cat Pee

        How do you keep the cat pee smell out of the litter box? It is cleaned every day. I have put baking soda in the box and nothing helps. I have tried different brands of litter.

        By JB


        Most Recent Answer

        By Maggilu06/19/2013

        Keep that litterbox immaculate. Scoop as often as you can, and make sure to get down to the bottom and scrap the edges. Replace the litter as often as you need to, I change mine out completely once a week. I've found that sWheat Scoop controls odor well.

        Every day when I scoop out the box, I wipe down the sides of the box with a mild vinegar solution. I keep a spray bottle of 1/2 white vinegar, 1/2 tap water on hand. Shake all the litter to one side of the box, then spray a paper towel with the vinegar solution and wipe the sides of the box, where the cats often pee. Then tilt the box the other way, and wipe down that side.

        Once a month, dump out all the litter, and scrub it, inside and outside with dish soap and vinegar. Rinse, dry and refill with clean litter. If the litterbox is on a hard surface, wash the area with vinegar. If it's on carpeting, sprinkle the carpet with baking soda, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then vacuum. Consider putting an indoor-outdoor rug or mat under the box, something that you can take out and wash down occasionally.

        Question: Using Borax in a Litter Box

        Is 20 Mule Team safe to use in a litter box?

        By Ruth from NY


        Most Recent Answer

        By Joan [19]11/23/2011

        If you use the clumping type litter and change it frequently, there should be no smell and you will not need to use Borax.