Cat litter how-to: 5 important questions

kitten in cat litter box

Cats are very clean animals by nature and it's important for them to have a clean litter box. There can be problems if the cat litter isn't right for the cat or is changed too infrequently: cats refuse to relieve themselves or do their business where they prefer – which could even be their owner's bed. This article gives you answers to the five most important questions on correctly handling cat litter.

Which type of cat litter is the right one?

Clumping litter, silica litter, biodegradable litter or non-clumping litter? It's certainly not easy to choose the right variety from this large selection.

Cats aren't just outright individualists in terms of food, but they have their own preferences and dislikes when it comes to litter boxes too. Many cats are used to a certain product and can comply or turn unhygienic with a change in the type of litter.

Clumping litter

Clumping litter is made up of small grains of clay that form clumps as soon as they come into contact with cat urine. These clumps of urine are removed from the litter box with a scooper. This means that the rest of the litter box filling remains clean for a relatively long time and doesn't have to be changed as frequently.

Non-clumping litter

Non-clumping cat litter varieties absorb urine without forming clumps. They are based either on clay minerals or silica gel (silica litter). If you use non-clumping cat litter, you merely have to remove cat faeces once a day.

Attention: you definitely shouldn't use clumping litter with young cats. If kittens nibble at the litter, it can lead to life-threatening clumps in their stomach!

How often does cat litter need changing?

In order to correctly handle cat litter, it's vital to know when it has to be changed. Cats with normal digestion defecate once to twice per day and urinate around four to five times per day. If you use clumping litter, you should remove faeces and clumps of urine at least one a day with the shovel – otherwise it soon starts smelling unpleasant.

Top tip: clumps of urine often stick stubbornly to the edges or in the corners of litter boxes. They should then be carefully scratched off with the shovel. If you're too vigorous, the clumps crumble into many small parts that require a lot of effort to be fished out.

Refill with roughly the same amount of fresh litter as you have removed. There should always be enough litter in the box  for your cat to be able to properly bury its droppings. Filling the box from 7 to 10cm in height is ideal.

Clumping litter should be completely replaced every two to four weeks. At the same time, you can thoroughly clean the litter box with water and a cleaning detergent. Non-clumping litter should be changed once a week.

How often you completely change cat litter depends amongst other things on the number of litter boxes. As a rule of thumb, there should be one litter box per cat plus one extra. Some cats are perfectly satisfied with one litter box, whilst others need more.

Individual habits also play a role in dealing with cat litter. There are cats that use one litter box to defecate and another to urinate. If your cat has diarrhoea or a bladder infection, you have to change the litter more often.

cleaning cat litter

How can cat litter be disposed of?

Even if it seems obvious, used cat litter should definitely not be disposed of in the toilet for humans. Clumping litter in particular can permanently block drainpipes. The correct method is to always throw out cat litter with the household waste. An exception are some types made from plant fibres, which can be disposed of in the organic waste bin or even the toilet.

If you don't wish to dump cat faeces and urine straight into the rubbish bin, you can use dog poop bags, which even come in biodegradable varieties.

Alternatively, choose a disposal system for cat litter. These special rubbish bins can be sealed so tightly that neither germs nor odours can escape.

What can be done when cats don't use their litter box?

So your cat relieves itself everywhere, just not in its litter box? A lack of hygiene can have many causes. Sometimes health problems or stress are behind it, but at other times it is simply due to incorrectly dealing with cat litter or the wrong choice of litter.

Even if you yourself would prefer cat litter with a scent of baby powder, it could be the case that your cat is simply repulsed by this aroma. In this case, you're better off choosing odourless varieties.

Cats with sensitive paws often don't like silica litter because the grains are quite sharp. As well, it makes quite a loud rustling noise when buried and it will no longer be a quiet spot. This too puts some cats off from using the litter box.

Cat litter all over the house – what helps?

Though not particularly appealing, it's not uncommon for your cat to spread litter all over your home. Certain varieties get stuck to the paws or fur, such as particularly lightweight litter made from plant fibres.

This is remedied by special mats that catch crumbs and only need to be shaken out.

Toilet mats are available in different sizes and models and save you once or twice from using the vacuum cleaner.

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