How to clean a cat litter tray
Read time: 3 min
If we had to list our favourite things about our cats, cleaning the litter tray would be at the bottom. Or at least bottom 3. Waking up in the middle of the night to our cat coughing up a hairball is actually last. But whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat, litter trays are essential. Otherwise you risk your rug becoming their toilet. And unless you have one of those fancy robot litter trays, you gotta clean it by hand.
Check out our guide on how to stop cat litter smelling. And get the scoop on how to clean cat litter trays.
Daily cat litter maintenance
Keeping your cat’s litter tray clean will help to make sure your home doesn’t smell.(No one likes coming home to the smell of cat poo). It will also make sure your cat continues to use the litter tray. And, as gross as it might be, keeping an eye on your cat’s bowel movements can help you monitor their health. So it’s in everyone’s interest to keep the litter tray as clean as possible.
Daily spot-checking of the litter tray will help minimise smells. And make sure your cat always has somewhere to go if they need to do business. Many cats will avoid using an already-dirty litter tray. So this will help to avoid accidents.
1. Set up a bin close by
Designate a bin or bucket purely for cat litter cleaning. Keep it close by to make scooping easy and mess-free. Make sure to empty it regularly. Otherwise the smell will stick around where it’s not wanted.
2. Wear disposable gloves and consider wearing a mask
Just like any other animal, cat poop is full of germs. And cats can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. If you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant, it’s best to leave cleaning the litter tray to someone else. Even if you’re fit and healthy, it might be a good idea to wear gloves and a mask. To avoid catching anything nasty.
3. Scoop out solids
Use a slotted litter scoop to remove the poop. You should scoop the poop once or twice a day to keep your litter tray as clean as possible. If you don’t, your cat might decide your floor is their new litter tray. You have been warned.
4. Scoop out urine clumps
If you use a clumping litter like Scoop Planet, you can easily scoop out the clumps of urine that form when your cat pees. If you don’t use clumping litter like Scoop Health, you’ll probably just need to increase how often you do a full clean.
5. Replace any lost litter
Scooping regularly means you’ll lose some litter in the tray. Either from it getting stuck to waste, ending up in clumps, getting spilt, or your cat walking it around the house. Make sure you top off any lost litter to keep it feeling fresh for your cat.
Cleaning Your Cat's Litter Box Weekly
Even if you spot-check your litter tray daily, it will still need a more thorough cleaning at least once a week. If not more, if you have more than one cat. This means a total refresh of the litter. And a deep clean. Your house will stay smelling sweet… or at least not of cat poop.
1. Empty out the old litter
Empty out all the old, dirty litter from the tray. Pop it in a bag and throw it in your big bin. Or compost it. (As long as the litter is made with compostable materials.) You may want to use the scoop or an old dustpan brush to sweep off any stubborn bits.
2. Scrubbing and Cleaning Out a Litter Box
Clean the litter box with a cat-safe cleaning product or a gentle, unscented detergent and warm water. Never use bleach. Cat urine contains ammonia which, when mixed with bleach, will create toxic gases and make you feel unwell.
Allow the tray to dry completely. Or blot it dry with paper towels or rags so your litter doesn’t soak up the moisture.
3. Pour in your litter
Top it up with your fresh litter to a depth of about 3-4cm. Then pop the tray back where it belongs. Your cat will probably decide at that moment that they really need to poop – happens every time. But they’ll thank you for their nice clean toilet.
Choosing the right cat litter
Cats are discerning creatures. And can be picky about their litter. They’ll automatically look for something gritty or sandy to relieve themselves. Because that’s what they would use in the wild. Try to avoid scented litter – your cat’s sense of smell is very sensitive. What smells good to us is too strong for them.
There are two main types of litter available – clumping and non-clumping. Clumping litter, like our Scoop Planet litter, forms clumps when it gets wet. Which makes it really easy to scoop out dirty patches. But, if you have young kittens, opt for a non-clumping litter until they’re a bit older. (Kittens, like human babies, tend to put things in their mouths. And the litter could become a choking hazard.)
The other type of litter – non-clumping – won’t stick together. It’ll stay loose. Our Scoop Health litter is a non-clumping, silica crystal litter. Which has a nice soft, sandy texture that cats prefer. It’s also the UK’s first (and only) health monitoring litter. It keeps track of the pH level of your cat’s urine. Which can help catch health issues your cat can’t tell you about. Pretty cool right?