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5 Ways to Take the Eww Out of Litter Boxes

Making Cleaning the Litter Less of a Hassle

By Amy Shojai. January 12, 2011 | See Comments

5 Ways to Take the Eww Out of Litter Boxes

When you have cats, cleaning up the litter box is something you can't get away from. Here are some tips on keeping the box clean with less fuss.

The litter box is a fact of life when you love cats. While some cats may learn to flush (and run up your water bills) most felines prefer litter box facilities that owners must clean.

The smell of a cat’s toilet not only offends owners, but the cats themselves. If their potty isn’t to their liking, cats find a more appealing place to go like in the potted palm.

It takes more than dumping to take the eww out of the litter box. The shape and location of the box, what you put in it, and how you clean the toilet influence your cat’s litter box allegiance and your smell sense. Here are 5 ways to improve your relationship with the cat’s toilet:

Choose Your Box

Cats want an uncovered box big enough to climb in, “pose” without hanging over the edge, and stand aside to cover their waste. Covered boxes contain the smell, good for you but that offends some cats. Self-cleaning boxes ensure the potty is always ready for the next occupant. Some litter boxes come with charcoal filters to help absorb odors. The 1+1 rule (one box per cat, plus one) keeps cats happy so they don’t have to argue over which cat owns the facilities.

Pick of the Litter

Once you find substrate your cat likes, don’t switch or your cat may find somewhere else to go. Most cats prefer soft, sandy substrates that feel good to digging paws. Strong perfumes smell good to you but can offend the cat, so choose a litter that appeals to your pet.

Staying On Track

“Scoopable” litter products absorb moisture and odor very well, and make it easy to remove waste while leaving the rest of the toilet clean. These fine-grain clay products track easily, though, and can make a mess. Litter mats help contain tracked clay. Pelleted types of box fillers made from paper, grain or other eco-friendly materials may track less, if your cat finds them acceptable.

Getting the Scoop

This may seem a no brainer to most cat lovers, but it bears repeating—scoop out the box every single day, without fail. Sure, it’s an “eww” moment but just think how your cat feels if the box is full of “eww” stuff. Keeping it clean eliminates most of the smell, too. Daily removal of your cat’s creative efforts also alerts you to any health changes in their productivity so you can alert your veterinarian.

Make a Clean Sweep

Scooping out the waste prolongs the life of the remaining litter in the box. But litter boxes can hold urine odor when it’s absorbed into the plastic. Make a practice of dumping out all the litter at least once a month, and scrubbing out the empty litter box with a cat-safe cleaning product. Odor neutralizers work best by eliminating the chemicals that cause smell, rather than just covering it up. Beware of “citrus” odors—they smell good to people, but cats often hate citrus and may avoid these smells.

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.

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