As a loving fur parent, you want to make sure that your feline companion is as happy and comfortable as possible. One way of doing this is to keep their litter box clean and odor-free.
Crystal litter is becoming a popular option nowadays because it is more hygienic and cost-effective than other types of cat litter. But many newbie cat owners are confused about how often to change cat litter crystals.
Generally, crystal litter should be changed once every month. Let us look further into the whys and hows in this article!
Scooping vs full cleaning – the difference
Some new cat owners might mistakenly assume scooping to be a way of cleaning the litter, when actually these are two different processes.
Scooping out chunks of poop and urine is something that is recommended to be done daily. Depending on your cat’s toilet routine and how many cats you have at home, you might even need to do this twice a day to keep the litter clean and smelling fresh.
A full cleaning, on the other hand, includes discarding all of the litter, sanitizing the litter box, and refilling it with fresh, new litter. Yes, that might seem a little demanding, but it is the proper way to maintain the cleanliness of your kitty’s toilet. Know that cats can be quite finicky when it comes to their litter box. If they find it dirty, they will likely search for another clean place to do their business, such as on the carpet or in the sink, and you do not want to deal with those alternatives!
But the good news is that you do not have to do a full clean very often. Depending on the type of litter you use, emptying the entire litter box can be done every three to four weeks. You can also add fresh litter into the box once every week, to top up the litter lost to daily scooping. Just make sure that the litter is always about two to three inches deep, which should be enough to cover your cat’s waste and tracks.
Topping up the litter box weekly saves you the time of completely cleaning your cat’s tray more often than you need to, and avoids an unnecessary waste of litter. Just remember that the key to maintaining the cleanliness of the litter box is regular scooping.
But what if you are too lazy to scoop daily and prefer to clean the entire litter box every few weeks? Bad news! Skipping the scoop will contaminate the entire litter box within a few days. Cats will push the soiled litter around as they try to find a free spot to bury new waste, and before the end of a week you will be faced with smelly, filthy cat litter. Plus, there is a chance your kitty will avoid using the litter box and hold their waste or eliminate somewhere else.
Hence, while scooping daily might seem a hassle, it is for you and your cat’s ultimate benefit. This cleaning habit will also keep the litter fresh for a longer time and avoid wasting too much litter.
How often to change cat litter crystals
More and more cat parents are appreciating the convenience of cat litter crystals, because silica gel, the material it is made from, is excellent at neutralizing odors and trapping cat waste. Crystal litter is safe and non-toxic for your pets, too, so there is no risk of poisoning whatsoever in case your furry friend licks it.
And, since crystal cat litter tends to be the most popular and economical option for cat owners these days, the question of how often to change it is becoming more common, too.
One important thing to note if you are using crystal litter is that it typically changes from white to a yellowish color once it is saturated with liquid from waste. You should scoop out these yellowed crystals and top up the tray with fresh litter. You might also need to rake the crystal litter every now and then to allow it to absorb more moisture.
Unlike most types of cat litter, crystal litter can stay fresh for a couple of weeks. Silica gel is excellent at trapping moisture, and thus reduces the growth of odor-causing bacteria and molds. Depending on how many cats you have, it is generally recommended to change the entire litter box and do a full clean once every month. Some might even leave it for up to two months!
How often do you scoop crystal litter?
To ensure the cleanliness of your cat’s litter box, it is highly recommended to scoop at least once a day. Make sure to slightly stir the litter, too, so that the silica can be evenly distributed to absorb more urine.
However, if you notice that the crystal litter is already saturated and can no longer absorb moisture, then you must discard all of the litter, sanitize the tray, and refill it with fresh crystal litter.
How often to change other cat litters
As mentioned, the frequency of a full clean will depend on the type of cat litter you are using. We have listed below the other popular cat litter options and how often you should change them:
1. Flushable corn-based litter
Flushable corn-based litter is a nice option if you are looking for something biodegradable that can be safely flushed. This type of litter also clumps well, making it easier for you to scoop out waste.
Depending on how many cats share the litter box, it is generally recommended to do a full change of corn litter once a week, or as soon as you notice the odor of waste coming from it. That means you might need to change it about four times a month, refilling the tray to about three inches deep.
2. Wood pellet litter
Another eco-friendly cat litter option is wood pellet litter. Some owners might consider wood pellets a better choice as it does not get stuck between the cat’s toes and contains less dust. The material is extremely absorbent, too, and does a great job of trapping urine and fecal matter.
However, wood pellets do not clump like the other litter types. Instead, the material disintegrates once it has been soaked with urine. Hence, the cleaning process will be a bit different. Instead of simply scooping out the waste, you will need to sift the disintegrated pellets and throw them away, and then put the intact pellets back into the tray.
Most wood pellets usually last about two weeks for each cat, so you will need to fully change the litter once every two to three weeks.
3. Clay clumping litter
The benefit of using clay clumping litter is that it is extremely absorbent and can expand up to 15 times its original weight when it comes into contact with moisture. Clay litter clumps very well, making it scoopable and easier to clean.
Depending on how often your cat uses the litter box, you might change clay clumping litter every three or four weeks. As with all litters, make sure that the tray is washed and sanitized well before refilling it with fresh litter.
How often to clean a cat litter box
Cats are tidy creatures, so it is very important to keep a regular cleaning routine when it comes to their litter box.
That said, how often you need to do a full clean will depend on the type of litter you use, as well as how many cats use the tray. Most clumping litters generally last up to four weeks before they need to be changed. Non-clumping litters, on the other hand, will need to be changed completely every one to two weeks, since they are not scoopable and will more easily contaminate the rest of the litter.
Can you wash and reuse cat litter crystals?
Some cat owners find washing and reusing crystal litter an economical and eco-friendly option. Since silica gel is hygienic and does not dissolve in water, you can safely wash and sanitize it for re-use. Make sure to filter off any leftover waste before washing, then let it dry outside.
To reactivate the silica gel, simply heat the air-dried litter in the oven for about two hours. Make sure that the litter box is thoroughly cleaned before filling it again with cat litter crystals.
How do you make crystal cat litter last longer?
As mentioned, the secret to making your crystal cat litter last longer is to scoop the waste as often as needed. Crystal litter clumps very well, which prevents contamination and controls undesirable odors. The clumping also makes it scoopable, which reduces your chore time.
To keep the silica gel fresh, simply stir it up from time to time. Do not forget to top up with a new layer of fresh crystal litter once every seven days. You can repeat this for a few weeks until you notice the silica gel is no longer absorbing waste. This weekly top-up should keep the cat litter fresh and clean for at least a month.
But do remember that the frequency of cleaning the litter box will also depend on your cat’s size and pooping habits. Larger cats might produce more waste than smaller ones. Some cats might also eliminate more than once a day, and that will require more changing and cleaning. Therefore, it is also important to keep note of your cat’s output so you can approximate how often to clean their litter box.
Cats hate using a dirty or smelly litter box. To ensure that their toilet routine goes uninterrupted, it is therefore a cat parent’s responsibility to keep the litter box clean. Thankfully, crystal cat litter can make this chore easier for you. Plus, it can last longer, too!
Crystal litter, on average, needs to be changed once every four to five weeks, depending on several factors like the number of cats sharing the tray and how often they pee or poop. Daily scooping is highly recommended to keep the litter box clean, thereby saving you time and reducing litter waste.
Image: istockphoto.com / Liudmila Chernetska