Whether you’ve owned cats all your life, or are bringing a kitty into your home for the first time, you’re likely aware of an interesting cat quirk; they prefer to be clean.
Cats and their penchant for cleanliness isn’t a phenomenon associated with domestication. It’s an instinctual trait, something that has been passed down through the millennia. Cats keep themselves clean, not to look adorable while trying to get to those “hard to reach” spots, but to remove unwanted scents associated with food, companions, and surroundings. It’s an instinct associated with keeping a low profile where potential predators are involved.
Fortunately for cat owners, this instinct means that cats prefer to leave waste in an environment where it can be covered and hidden. Enter the litter box. Yes, I know what you may be thinking: cleaning the litter box can be a real pain. But when you consider kitty’s desire to be clean and their sense of security, you can begin to appreciate the importance of cleaning the litter box often and cleaning it well.
Litter boxes should be cleaned at least twice daily if you own 1-2 cats, preferably immediately after use, as far as kitty is concerned. More cats means cleaning the box more often, or having multiple boxes and cleaning all of those just as often. With cleaning frequency in mind, it’s important that you make arrangements while you’re away, such as hiring a pet sitter to visit kitty on a regular basis and ensure the litter box is cleaned properly and with regularity.
Speaking of proper cleaning, here are some essential tips that you should always practice, and also share with anyone providing pet sitting and cat care while you are away:
· Cats will dig a space in which to leave their waste and then cover that space with surrounding litter, so scraping the surface won’t do. Digging out the poop and clumps and sifting is essential.
· Tilting the litter box from side to side is a great way to move un-clumped litter and can make finding missed clumps a whole lot easier
· Cleaning frequently, especially immediately after kitty uses the litter box, reduces the smell, waste of litter, and greatly reduces the risk of the kitty looking elsewhere for a clean spot to go.
· Waste retrieved from the litter box should immediately be disposed of, preferably outside of the home.
· Depending on the number of cats using any one litter box, frequent dumping of unused litter and disinfection of the box itself should be common practice. Removing the waste is a daily job, keeping the box smelling clean and free of bacteria should be done on a weekly basis when 1-2 cats use the box, more frequently if you have more cats than that.
· Keep the litter box in an inconspicuous space. This is just a courtesy for kitty, as they like their privacy just as much as we do.
For a list of recommended products, read this guide to the best litter boxes from My Pet Needs That.