How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?

April 14, 2020 // 7 minute read

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Changing your cat’s litter is very important. Doing so is said to have excellent benefits for our cats’ well-being. Plus, it eliminates problems such as your cat looking for an alternative toilet area.

However, the most common question is, how often should you change your cat litter? To answer that, let us first discuss the difference between a clumping and non-clumping litter.

Changing Cat Litter

Two Types of Cat Litter

There are two types of cat litter: the clumping and the non-clumping cat litter. Over the years, there has been a constant discussion as to which kind of litter is better. But honestly, it will always depend as to what your cat prefers.

Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Non-clumping litter is generally the more common type of litter that comes with the litter boxes. It was the only commercial litter available for several years. It is beneficial in absorbing and trapping odors. Some types even contain baking soda or charcoal to help mask the smell and keep your home fresh.

One significant benefit of non-clumping litter is that it doesn’t emit dust. Which means it is safe in consideration to those that have asthma or respiratory problems.

How often should you change non-clumping cat litter?

The biggest problem found with the non-clumping cat litter is that cat urine usually fills the bottom of the litter box. This means you would need to change and clean the litter box as frequently as possible.

Since non-clumping cat litter can trap odor, the urine at the bottom of the litter box might not cause you problems for at least a few days. So, what you can do daily is to scoop out the solid waste at least once or twice a day. It is even better to scoop debris every after your cat uses the toilet.

Other than scooping out wastes, you also need to change the whole batch of litter.

If you only have one cat, you can change the whole batch of litter once or twice a week. You can also use the smell of urine as a determining factor if you need to change the batch already.

However, if you have multiple cats, then I highly advise changing the whole litter batch at least thrice a week, or better, every day. If you have multiple litter boxes, then you might not need to do it every day, but then again, it will depend as to how soiled the litter box is.

Clumping Cat Litter

Clumping cat litter is newer in the market. The main benefit it offers is that it forms clumps when the litter gets wet from your cat’s pee. Therefore, it separates the clean litter from the dirty litter. This means you can not only scoop out solid wastes but also urine.

The main disadvantage of clumping cat litter is that it’s more expensive. Also, I recommend not to use this if you have kittens. Kittens are curious, and they may end up eating it, which can cause blockage in their intestines.

Clumping litter also emits more dust when you’re pouring it into the litter box, and when your cat is digging through it. This can be a significant problem for those with asthma and respiratory problems.

How often should you change clumping cat litter?

Clumping cat litter doesn’t need as frequent changes as the non-clumping one. As mentioned above, when your cat pees, the litter forms clumps, separating clean litter from the dirty ones.

This would make it easier for you to clean the litter. You can easily scoop it out after your cat uses the toilet. Just like the non-clumping litter, you need to do scooping at least once or twice a day.

When it comes to changing the whole batch of cat litter into a fresh one, you won’t need to do this as frequently as you will with the non-clumping litter. This is because there’s no problem such as urine settling down the bottom of the litter box.

What I recommend is changing the whole batch at least once every two or three weeks if you have one cat. If you have multiple cats, then changing the litter once a week will do.

It might be an expensive litter, but it does allow you to save more in the long term.

Cleaning the Litter Box

Of course, scooping out cat litter daily or changing the cat litter in a hooded litter box or open-air litter box is not enough. Odor and bacteria can stay in the litter box if you don’t clean it too. So, how often should you wash the litter box?

Well, you should wash it every time you need to change the whole batch of cat litter. Because it would not make sense to pour in a new batch of fresh litter if you don’t wash the litter box. Here are a few easy steps you can follow:

Empty the old litter

Keep a trash can nearby so you can do this quickly and efficiently. Make sure you dump everything out before you proceed to the cleaning.

Scrub the empty litter box

Once you have removed the litter, it’s time to scrub the litter box. You can do this in the sink, but doing it outside your house with a hose is better. Remember, this litter box is full of bacteria, and you wouldn’t want those to get in your sink.

Use warm water and a mild detergent to do this, so as not to leave any smell of harsh chemicals behind. The cat’s sense of smell is highly sensitive, and it might cause some problems if you use harsh chemicals.

Scrub the surfaces, and also don’t forget to pay attention to the edges of the box.

Then, rinse thoroughly with clean water. Again, make sure that there is no soap residue so that the litter box doesn’t smell like detergent. This may repel cats, which is also the reason why it is much advisable not to use scented litter.

Dry the litter box thoroughly

Air dry or wipe the litter box with a paper towel or napkin. This is very important before you put in a new batch of litter. If the litter box is wet, litter may stick to the surfaces of the box, and you don’t want that.

Add baking Soda (Optional)

This one is optional but highly recommended if you’re using the non-clumping litter. Spread a layer of baking soda, a thin layer, on the surface of the litter box before pouring a new batch of litter. This will help absorb the smell and even urine.

Pour in Clean Litter

Finally, pour in your new batch of cat litter. Just make sure to add just the right amount of litter, not too much and not too little. At least 2-4 inches deep would do, and make sure that you are consistent with the depth.

Too much litter can cause your cat to make a mess when she starts doing some digging. And when there’s too little litter, your cat would feel that she has no place to dig or cover her waste. This might lead to more serious problems, such as looking for an alternative location. Other than that, the odor can quickly spread in your home if waste is not covered.


Not cleaning the litter box might lead to several problems such as medical issues, cat stress, and out-of-the-box elimination. This is why changing cat litter and litter box cleaning is very important. It is a big responsibility that cat owners must attend.

If you’re having any problems in terms of cleaning, the steps above will guide you. The bottom line is to clean as often as you can. There is no schedule that you need to follow. If the litter is soiled, change it. If the odor starts to arise, clean it.

Changing as frequently as possible is not bad at all. Your feline buddy would greatly appreciate it.

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