Cats are clean and fastidious animals. They don’t like a smelly, messy litter box, anymore than one would like using an un-flushed toilet. In fact they’d rather “go” outside. It’s possible they’ll be healthier with this method too.
Cats’ origins are arid, desert, environments, thus the burying of feces in sandy, loose, soil ( like litter ) and their fascination with trickling water. My vet’s light-hearted opinion is that cats had a little raccoon in them. The cats probably think it’s the other way around.
You will need the following:
- 1 bag of Clumpable cat litter of your choice, should be dust free. More : Best Dust Free Cat Litter
- 1 bag of regular cat litter of your choice, should be dust free.
- An alternative to 1&2 is to buy premixed Clumpable and regular litter. I prefer mixing my own, but you might try it. Not available everywhere.
- A metal serving spoon with large holes in it and a long, strong handle. The usual plastic scoops available are not sturdy or long enough, and snap easily.
- An 8” deep or more litter box for each cat (or more visits on your part).
- 50 -100 Brown lunch bags.
Optional but recommended:
- A small vacuum for removing stray litter.
- A 3-4” deep cardboard box to place the litter box into with some generous room.
- A medium sized plastic wastebasket with plastic bag liners (with ties).
How to Clean the Litter Box
A plastic litter box, available online or pet stores, should be at least 8-10 inches deep. It should include a “shield” that fits around the top rather than a total cover. The reason for the litter box depth will be explained later, and having the shield will contain flying litter. Finally, an open cover will allow you easy access, and allow air circulation, (litter dust is not good for cats).
The litter box should be placed into a cardboard box of lower height. The cardboard box can be anything you can get your hands on; its purpose is to catch the litter stuck to paws as the cats leave the litter box. (You really don’t need this cardboard add-on, but it will require more vacuuming on your part).
Find a quiet out of the way place your cats can access at any time, preferably not carpeted – though you may use an inexpensive runner if you want. – as some litter will stick to the cat’s pads as they exit the litter box. (Thus the small vacuum).
IMPORTANT: You should become very attuned to when your cat uses the facilities. The sooner you attend to cleaning the better, and the process described here (after you set up), takes less than a minute. If you work or are otherwise away for awhile one of the first stops upon return should be to check the litter box. And clean it immediately.
Cleaning The Litter Box
Mixing the Litters
You should purchase 2 types of litter, Regular and Clumpable. Make sure they’re labeled dust free. Litter is made mostly from crumbled clay and when moistened gets sticky, then hardens. Litter dust inhaled by your cat can result in severe lung problems. As mentioned above, there is now a premixed Clumpable/regular litter available. Make sure it’s dust free. I have not used it as I prefer mixing my own.
After cleaning the new litter box (yes, you should clean it even if it’s brand new, and also each time you do a total litter refresh), with a mild, non-scented soap and a tad of bleach. Wait until it’s completely dry before adding the fresh litter mixture. Next mix the 2 litters together within the litter box – 2 parts Clumpable 1 part regular. Use your removal spoon to mix it up good. (You’ll learn the proportions best for your situation). Smooth it all out, and you’re set to go.
Extra Tips For Setting up the Area
You might find a place for your small vacuum, nearby, maybe an outlet as well. Purchase 50/100 paper lunch bags. The small brown paper type. Place them nearby. Place your removal spoon nearby – perhaps hang it up. Place a smallish/medium plastic wastebasket nearby along with plastic liner bags with drawstrings. The wastebasket must have a cover.
Being attentive to your cat’s usage is important. You will find that removing urine clumps is more frequent than removing turds. But if cats use the litter box before you are able to clean it they may break the clumps already there – it’s not the end of the world -but will require a little more effort on your part. Although there’s no rule, cleaning the turds first is best as they’re usually the most visible. However care should be taken not to break the urine clumps while doing so. If a urine clump is easy to remove do it first. And don’t be shy about removing litter.
Remove the turds (#2).
After puss has left, there may be some turds (#2). They’re lightly buried or on top, if not, scrape the litter gently to find them with care not to break a urine clump. Turds are usually easy to remove. If they’re moist, you may have to further coat them with litter prior to removal. Place them in the brown bag.
Remove the clumps (#1).
You will find that urine, (#1) has clumped the litter if mixed properly. Remove the clump with your removal spoon and place it in the brown bag. You may find that gently scraping away some clean litter near the clump will give you better access to get under it. Place the clump into the paper bag along with feces if any. You’ll make more scoops for clumps than you will for #2. Urine should NOT be allowed to reach the base of the litter box, as it requires more cleaning. Maintain a high depth of litter to prevent this.
Close and dispose the brown paper bag as you would any smelly trash. Either place the brown bag into the nearby smallish wastebasket (with liner inserted) and close the cover, or take the brown bag to the garage or wherever you keep your household waste and toss it out.
When finished, churn the remaining clean litter and smooth the surface. The churning will aerate the litter.
You will find that using this cleaning method will make your litter last longer, reduce odor a lot, and provide a good solution to a necessary task.
The reason for a deep litter box is that you want to be sure that as the cat pees, that the liquid does not reach the bottom of the litter box. It’s much easier to remove just a clump than to have to scrape and clean the bottom of the litter box.
As you remove lumps and turds you will be removing litter as well. So after several uses, top it off with a fresh mixture and blend it together with the existing litter. How often to clean and place a whole new batch of litter is up to you. The more often the better.
When the time comes to refresh the whole litter box, pour it all out into a medium sized wastebasket that’s lined with a plastic bag with ties. (This could be the same wastebasket where you’re placing the brown bags). Place it with usual outgoing trash.
The scoop must be sturdy. Not the plastic kind you usually see. Metal is best, with large holes in the scoop part. And it must be at least 12” long as indicated here. The hole in the plastic handle is good for hanging up. Wash when necessary. Outside with a hose if you can. The sketch shown here is similar to a scoop at a major online store.
The Litter Box
Sketch of empty litter box with shield. The base of the litter box must be from 8-10 inches deep. The detachable shield is helpful to keep the litter confined while at the same time allows you to reach through from the top. It also allows circulation of air and helps disperse any dust.
Sketch of litter box and shield with litter added. Fill to within 2 inches or so from the top. Smooth it out when finished. Shown here is the cardboard surround as well. The cardboard surround is not really necessary but does catch some litter. Also, beneath this you may have a small, inexpensive area carpet. This too is not necessary.
The Vacuum and Brown Paper Bags
Any small vacuum will do. Any brown “lunch” paper bags will do.
This does not have to be done every trip. Take your small vacuum and pick up the stray litter in the cardboard underliner and exit areas. Voila. You’re done…,for the time being.
Following this practice will keep your litter area with less odor, and more sanitary, with minimal work. It’s a great task for someone ( allowance and all that ).