How Often Should You Replace Cat Litter

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Cats are the furry buddies of humans, and they have been domesticated and loved by homo sapiens for ages. Like humans, they have similar bodily needs. They defecate and urinate, and maintain excellent self-hygiene after that.

An effective way to potty train your house cat is by using cat litter boxes. Cat litter boxes could be the traditional open-air ones or enclosed ones with hoods. Whichever one you prefer to use for your cat or cats, a very important question that many cat parents ask is “How often should you replace cat litter?”

This becomes an incredibly unnerving question especially when you are a very busy person, or your work requires you to stay out of the house often. In that case, you might not be able to change the cat litter frequently.

Depending on the number of cats and their diet, you may need to change cat litter at least once every day. Cat litter manufacturers use a variety of materials to make the litter—clay, silica-based gel, natural mud, or wood pellets, all are equally popular to meet the demand of different households.

Wood pellets are easy to change, and as they are biodegradable, they can be easily got rid of. How often to change wood pellet cat litter, you ask? Wood pellet cat litter does not need frequent change. Read more to find out.


What happens if you do not change cat litter

Cats like to maintain impeccable self-hygiene and so might refrain from using the same litter over and over. Used cat litter will obviously start smelling after some time, so it is always a good idea to get rid of used cat litter at the soonest possible time.

Studies and observations have shown that cats do not use the same cat litter more than twice or thrice, depending on the size of the litter box. If the litter box has been used more than three times or is full, your cat will only smell it and give it the cold shoulder.

If your cat has the habit of unloading outside in the garden or somewhere else, then it will finish its business elsewhere. But if the cat is potty-trained and will do its business only in the litter box, you should seriously be concerned about changing the litter box frequently. The cat will hold its defecating or urinating urge for hours until you clean the litter box up.

Hopefully, you are aware of what could happen if the urge is held for a long time, right? For humans, it might not be that detrimental, but for cats, it might prove to be not only a bad habit but devastating. It might lead to the urinary tract and bladder infections that if left untreated can cause lethal organ damage or even death.

Additionally, when you leave the litter box unclean for a long time, the detriments rot and cause build up of ammonium compound inside the litter box.

It may not have occurred to you that overexposure to decaying matters or ammonium compounds may cause illnesses ranging from mild discomforts such as a nauseous feeling or irritating headaches to straight-up pneumonia or food poisoning, the latter’s chances increasing when children and younger people are let loose near unclean cat litter boxes.

Also, there are certain diseases that can transmit from animals to cats—bartonellosis or cat’s scratch disease is one of them. This disease is caused by a bacterial infection that spreads from rotting cat excrements and once it has infected a human, symptoms may include headache, nausea, fatigue, body ache and even chills or fevers.

You would want to stay away from all these diseases—often they are mistakenly overlooked by pet owners or cat lovers by saying, “Aw, what harm can these precious little fur balls cause?”, but you should be a smart animal owner and take responsibility unlike many others.

A parasite-infected cat is another thing to be concerned about. Cats crawl and snoop around various surfaces, nooks and crannies, starting from garden sheds to balconies, from garbage-disposal areas to your bedroom, so it is not surprising when you find that your cat may have something called Taxoplasma gondii in its gut.

It is a parasite that infects cats, and passes from cats to humans via their excrements, especially if the cat excrement is flushed down the toilet or thrown away here and there without any kind of safety measures.

This parasite, once it infects humans, may cause severe bouts of fever and can even cause self-harm thoughts and tendencies in the victim.

Ringworm fungus and E-coli bacteria are other pathogens that may transmit from unclean litter boxes to humans—people whose immune system is compromised or are too young, are at high risk of contracting diseases caused by these pathogens.

For all these reasons, you should better make sure that you empty the cat litter box and replace with new litter as frequently as possible, keeping your cat happy and your home neat and clean.


How often should you replace Cat litter

The reasons being all laid out, now the real question remains, how often? Before we answer that question, you should at first know the types of litter boxes that are available in the market.

There are closed litter boxes with a hood that are preferable to those owners who like to keep cat business “out of sight”. But out of sight may also mean that you might be unmindful of it and forget to clean it from time to time, plus it might be hassle-some to check if the cat litter is full or not.

Hooded or covered cat litter boxes will also trap the smell of the excrements for longer, which is an added benefit. On the contrary, certain cats may not be particularly fond of the enclosed space and might feel trapped especially when it has been attacked by a threat and it finds emergency exiting cumbersome.

One trial is enough for the cat to decide if it would want to use the cat litter box in the future again or not—if it feels ambushed, trapped or uncomfortable inside the hooded box, it might never use it again.

Alternatively, there are your traditional and simple litter boxes and auto-cleaning litter boxes. The automatic ones have mechanisms like disposable trays and odor cancellation tools attached to the box that clean the litter box without you having to get your hands dirty.

However, the auto-cleaning ones might turn out to be a little too sophisticated for your cat, so to avoid any possibilities of that, you can always switch to the simple, conventional cat litter boxes.

On the choice of cat litter, there are varieties available in the market. The list includes the old-school clay litter, silica gel or crystal litter, clumping litter, or biodegradable or plant-based litter. Choose the one which requires you to clean it the least often, especially if you are a busy person or do not stay at home often.

Most cats usually like fine-grain litter because they are softer to paw into and make a pocket to cover their business.

If you place your cat’s comfort as the top-most priority, which you should, then you should go for the new clumping fine-grain clay cat litter, because they cut down the odor, clumps up the excrements even if they are more liquid than solid (in case your cat is suffering a bad stomach), and are easier to clean up.

Also, make sure that the litter is dust-free so as to prevent air pollution or allergic reactions among the other inhabitants in the house. However, if you cats have behavior issues and often defecate outside of the house in the garden area, then you can scoop some garden soil and mix it with the cat litter to attract the cat in.

Now about the number of cleaning times—this depends upon certain factors like the number of cats you have as pets, what they eat, how often the cats use the litter box, the number of cat litter boxes, the type of cat litter you use, your home environment, and your hospitality culture.

If you are a cleanliness freak and entertain guests often, you would want to either keep the cat litter box outside the house or in the garage, or you might want to clean it up once daily.

Cats use the cat litter box for defecating and urinating for 3 to 5 times in a day, or more frequently if they are suffering any gut or urinary condition. If you have more than one cat, or a dozen cats, then obviously, the cleaning routine would be more rigorous.

On a weekly basis, emptying the litter twice is the best option, but if circumstances do not permit you, then once is also good.

How will you know it is time to clean—simply by smelling any odor or noticing the cat’s behavior. If the cat refuses to use the litter box and holds back defecating urges, it might be another indication that the cat litter might be full to the brim and needs immediate change.

Clumping fine-grain clay litter does not need to be changed frequently, so if you are a busy person and travel a lot, then you would want to use this kind of litter for your cat poo box. Remember to replace the old litter with 3-4 inches of fresh cat litter in the box, so that the cats can start using them for emergency business.

After getting rid of the used cat litter, do not forget to wash the litter box. Using mild detergent should do the trick—do not use citrus-flavored detergent since this smell drives cats off to unknown destinations which you would not want.

Also using heavy-duty cleaning components must be avoided since some of them might contain elements harmful or poisonous to cats.


How Often To Change Wood Pellet Cat Litter

Wood pellet cat litter uses small chunks of wood instead of clay, mud, paper, or silica. When cats defecate or urinate on the litter, the wood pellets absorb the liquid of the excrements and turn into sawdust. The dirt-covered sawdust, being heavier, settles at the bottom of the cat litter box, leaving the fresh wood pellets at the top.

You can consider this as a self-cleaning cat litter box since the cat always finds it fresh and tidy whenever it wants to finish its business. As the dirty wood pellets settle at the bottom, therefore the smell is also minimized, keeping your house odor-free.

For cat lovers, who are also nature-lovers and looking for biodegradable materials for their cat litter, this wood-pellet option might prove to be the best for them.

One of the most lucrative benefits of using wood pellets for cat litter is that you do not have to replace it too frequently. Depending on factors listed out before, like the number of cats, their diet, and so on, wood pellets need to be replaced entirely once every two weeks.

Just make sure that every day you scoop out a little of the dirty sawdust. In this way, you would not need to get rid of a big mound of smelly sawdust at the end of a week or a couple of weeks.

This wood pellet cat litter also comes with sifters—to separate the dried excrements or sawdust from the fresh wood pellets. If you do not get one with the product, then make sure you get one separately, because these sifting trays could prove to be quite helpful.


Q.1) How do I scoop wood pellet litter?

Ans: One of the best things about using wood pellet litter is that the sawdust remains dry even after it has got mixed with all excrements. Wood pellet litter is quite absorbent, and it is ten times easier to get rid of dried-up powdery excrements than liquid or gooey feces.

Having said that, at first, remove the fresh wood pellets from the top, and keep them in a separate container. The next step would be to separate the sawdust + excrements from the remaining wood pellets.

Take a sieve-cum-scooper or a sifter, and then scoop a little quantity of sawdust at a time, and then bringing the sifter to the mouth of another container, gently shake the sifter so that the finer-powdery sawdust falls through leaving the fresh wood pellets on the sift. Do this as many times as needed to remove all the sawdust.

Q.2) How do you get rid of wood pellet sawdust?

Ans: Another good thing about wood pellet cat litter is that, as they are biodegradable, so they can be composted for your garden plants. Remember though, that the compost made out of wood pellet litter or sawdust, must never be used to fertilize plants that will bear fruits that you will consume, like fruit or vegetable plants, for example.

You may have heard of a parasite named Taxoplasma gondii that might be present in the feces of infected cats, and this parasite may end up infecting the plants as well.


Final Word

Cats are super hygienic animals, and they demand fresh litter to finish their business in. Smelly, over-used, disgusting litter is something that cats avoid, and they might stop defecating or urinating if that is the case they find each day.

This may lead to a major collapse in their health condition—yes cats do contract urine infections and other bowel conditions. You should therefore, leave your work for some time, and make sure that the cat litter is fresh and clean most of the time, otherwise, all those hours of potty training will go to waste.

How often should you replace cat litter? Replacing the dirty litter with fresh ones at least once daily is strongly recommended.

Wood pellet litter is quite popular among cat lovers these days. How often to change wood pellet cat litter, you ask? Changing them once every 2 weeks is enough.

Additionally, wood pellets absorb the liquid component of cat feces and dry them up to sawdust, which is so much easier to get rid of. Wood pellet cat litter can also be used as garden compost, but should not be used for fruit-bearing plants.

Keep your cat’s litter box clean and tidy—this way your entire family, and of course your cat, will thank you.


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