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The two most fundamental rules of litter box management:
Scoop at least twice daily, ideally morning and night
If possible, provide a box for each cat, ideally in separate and private areas.
Why are these points so important?
Scooping at least twice daily
Cats are extremely clean animals and will appreciate a litter box free of previous waste, so it is best to clean the litter box each time you suspect they have used it or as often as possible. This will encourage good litter box habits resulting in less accidents.
The sooner waste is removed the longer the litter will last.Even with high quality scoopable litters the natural odor barrier breaks down when waste is not removed in timely fashion, which allows solid and liquid waste to mix resulting in the all-too-common litter box stench. Quality litters will absorb much of this smell, but the result will be more frequent litter box changing because the litter will become saturated with this smell. For this reason many litter companies add potentially harmful chemicals which can discourage good litter box habits.
Dispose of waste daily or place in an airtight container.
Separate litter boxes in private areas
Cats are very private and may not like to share litter boxes. Not having a litter box for each cat can result in catfights- one cat not allowing the other to use the box or one cat refusing the litter box after somebody else has used it.
Litter boxes should also be placed in separate private areas where the cat will not be disturbed. If this is not possible one should consider buying an enclosed litter box to allow the cat as much privacy as possible.
Cleaning the litter box between litter changes
When changing litter use a mix of warm water, vinegar and lime juice to naturally clean your catís litter box.Warning: with a scoopable (clumping) litter it is extremely important to make sure the litter box is completely clean and wipe out all residues with a moist paper towel before washing; even small amounts of scoopable litter can cause a plugged drain.Washing the litter box when changing litter will remove odor causing bacteria, which will naturally reduce odors. Make sure to rinse and dry the box. This will ensure a neutral smell.
Automatic Litter Boxes
The first priority with any automatic litter box is to ensure that it can sense the cat's presence. This is important not only for the safety of the feline, but to ensure that a fear of the litter box is not developed that could result in poor habits.
Make sure that the litter box is compatible with the litter the cat wants to use. Typically automatic litter boxes use one of three types of litter: scoopable clay litter, corn-based litter, or artificial granules. Some cats either absolutely refuse to use the granular or corn litter or will begrudgingly use it if there are no other options including potted plants. The most important point is to find something your cat likes. If you are considering an automatic box that uses granular or corn litter, buy some and try it in a regular box before you spend $300 on something your cat may never use.
Outside vs. Inside only issue
Depending on where you live it may be possible for your cat to venture into the wild outdoors. Aside from the safety issues (dogs, children, diseases...) this will also affect your cat's litter preferences. Cats typically prefer a clay based litter as it is what they would naturally use. This is especially true of cats that venture inside and out. While outside they will normally use one specific dirt patch as a litter box. Therefore it is best to provide them something that is as similar to that as possible, typically an unscented clay litter. This is expecialy important for cats in climates that sometimes do not allow them to go outside. All cats are different and before making any drastic changes you should consult your cat by allowing them to test litters.
A good clay litter with timely scooping will typically control the odor very well without any additives. Yet some are either unable or choose not to scoop often. Below we have compiled some tips to help make your cat a little more comfortable and to help avoid using a litter saturated with chemicals.
Make more litter boxes available to your cat or cats. The cat may alternate between boxes, which will decrease the mixing of solid and liquid waste.
Purchase an automatic litter box so your cat can enjoy a clean box and dispose of the collected waste as often as possible.
If an automatic litter box is outside of your budget or is not compatible with your cats preferred litter a much less expensive enclosed litter box can be purchased with a carbon filter that will quietly eliminate odor. You can also place a deodorizer like an open box of baking soda next to the litter box or a similar carpet or refrigerator deodorizer.
Some also lightly mist the air in the room with natural oils, juices or other substances to eliminate the odor. Something else we have heard that works particularly well is the scent kill that hunters use. Be very careful when testing these options as they could adversely effect the cat's litter box habits and or health, you should consult a holistic veterinarian before using any alternative odor control option. As your cat's safety is the first concern.
The best option is frequent scooping if you want to maintain a natural, healthy and pleasant litter box for your cat.