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Cleaning and Maintaining a Cat 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.

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A cat smelling a litter box
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August 2, 2015 Flag

We don't have any pets of our own and I'm having the pleasure of keeping my 2 grandcats for a couple of weeks.

When Max does his business, he loves to dig deep into the litter box and sometimes the urine sticks to the side and bottom of the box. When trying to remove it, no matter how hard I bang the box on the floor, it does not turn loose. If I try to scoop it out, the wet litter sticks to the scoop and makes a big mess.

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This morning I came up with the idea of using the sharp top of the cat food can to lift it up. I put some duct tape around the part I hold so I won't cut myself. It worked great.

Although the litter is deep, I'll add a little more to it and that should also help.

    Cleaning Out the Cat Litter Box
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    May 16, 2008 Flag
    3 found this helpful

    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

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    January 29, 2005 Flag
    11 found this helpful

    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.

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    November 12, 2014 Flag
    3 found this helpful

    Get 4 or 5 litter boxes of the same size. Fill each one with a few inches of litter. Stack one on top of another. When it's time to change the litter just remove the top most box.

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    December 27, 2011 Flag

    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.

    Litterbox in the basement inside a dog crate.

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    May 28, 2015 Flag
    4 found this helpful

    I love my cats, but I don't love stinky litter boxes so I have two litter boxes. One is in use and the other is away. When one box gets dirty I replace it with the other box to give me time to empty the first one and thoroughly clean and sanitize it with vinegar, water, a bit of dish detergent and baking soda.

    Fuzzy and Lil Orphan Annie

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    May 27, 2005 Flag
    5 found this helpful

    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!!

    Mya and Max, two housecats.

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    January 15, 2014 Flag

    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.

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    October 25, 2007 Flag
    2 found this helpful

    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.

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    April 8, 2008 Flag
    2 found this helpful

    You can recycle even when cleaning up after your kitties! I was scooping the cat litter into plastic bags each day, thinking I was recycling the bags, but duh! They still sit in the landfill, not breaking down.

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    December 27, 2007 Flag
    4 found this helpful

    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.

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    July 13, 2015 Flag

    Can anyone recommend a kitty litter product that doesn't stick to your cat's feet and track all over the place?

    We have two cats and used to have two litter boxes. We used to keep one of the litter boxes in the kid's bathroom, but even after putting it in a large storage container with high sides and using one of those no-track mats, the litter would stick to the cat's feet and end up all over the bathroom floor when they jumped out of the storage container. I was sweeping in there almost daily and it would still stick to the kids damp feet when they got out of the shower - disgusting!

    I tried removing that litter box and keeping just the one downstairs, which I clean daily. One cat has no problem with this. The other cat will poop in the downstairs litter box, but will not pee in it. He now pees on the bathroom floor where the old litter box used to be and if someone is in that bathroom when he needs to use it, he will scratch on the door twice and if it doesn't open, he proceeds to go to a room where there is a person and pee on the carpet along the edge of the room, even if the closest person is nowhere near that bathroom - jerk! It's driving me crazy.

    So it looks like I have to put the litter-box back in the bathroom and might even need to put in a cat door in case someone has the gall to actually use the bathroom. I a little concerned about this as it is right at the top of the stairs. This means I'm back to my original problem - how to keep the cat litter from tracking all over the bathroom floor? Any ideas? He is very set on this particular location and I have three kids using this rather small bathroom including a teenage daughter that likes to take long baths with the door shut.

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      July 14, 20150 found this helpful

      Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, he is short hair, so there's no fur to trim between his toes. I have one of those rubber mats that are designed to take the litter off his feet but he jumps over it and he was peeing on the bathmat when we had one in the bathroom, so it's been removed. Unfortunately, the bathroom is pretty small. We're using a clumping type litter. I'm hoping someone can recommend another type that doesn't cling to their feet so badly and also doesn't smell?

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      October 17, 2011 Flag
      3 found this helpful

      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.

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      March 8, 2011 Flag
      6 found this helpful

      When cleaning cat boxes, the ammonia smell lingers. Although ammonia is a weak base, it can also be a weak acid. 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.

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      January 22, 2012 Flag
      4 found this helpful

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

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      August 11, 2011 Flag
      3 found this helpful

      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:

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      June 5, 2013 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      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

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      June 19, 20130 found this helpful

      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.

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      October 18, 2011 Flag

      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.

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      November 15, 2011 Flag
      0 found this helpful

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

      By Ruth from NY

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      November 23, 20110 found this helpful

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

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      October 25, 2011 Flag
      1 found this helpful

      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.

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      April 13, 2011 Flag

      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.

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      September 23, 2009 Flag

      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.

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      July 9, 2014 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      I find it helpful to put many layers of old newspaper in them and then sand on top. I only let them use 1 box and keep the other clean, with its door to the wall.

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      March 1, 2005 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      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.

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