How to Manage and Clean Litter Boxes - dummies

How to Manage and Clean Litter Boxes

By Gill Chilton

Indoor cats, of course, need litter trays. There are ways to keep these clean to reduce nose and eye sores. Even if your pet goes outside, providing a tray in the house so that your pet doesn’t use the lawn makes your garden a safer place to play for children and a nicer place to be for everyone.

Pregnant women should not clean the litter tray. Toxoplasmosis is an illness caused by organisms found in some raw meat and hence may also be present in cat faeces. If a mother catches toxoplasmosis during certain stages of pregnancy, the disease can affect the baby’s development. If you’re pregnant, but absolutely have to change the cat tray, wear disposable gloves and take great care to avoid contact with faeces.

You can buy litter trays, liners, and litter at pet stores and supermarkets. You can also use just about any old large, deep, quality plastic tray. An old paint or garden seed tray is fine if it’s a minimum of 30 centimetres (12 inches) long. (Two cats need a larger tray.)

If your male cat has a habit of spraying rather than squatting consider buying a litter tray with a cover that he can go inside. Initially, start with the cheapest cat litter that you can find, moving up to a more expensive brand only if your cat won’t use it.

To get the tray ready, put on the plastic liner, if you’re using one, then lay down several thickness of newspaper. Pour out enough litter so that there’s a depth of 5 centimetres (2 inches) in the tray.

Economy cat litter does the job, in that it absorbs wet, but it lacks the scent-retarding properties of pricier litters. Sprinkle a little bicarbonate of soda on the litter to mask bad smells.

Where you put the litter tray is crucial. It needs to be in a quiet place for your cat to want to use it and away from food preparation and eating areas. Naturally, you also won’t want the tray in your bedroom or lounge!

In many homes, this leaves only the utility room, if you have one, or a bathroom. The latter is a popular choice – especially a downstairs loo because you can simply pick out solid matter (with a gloved finger and special tongs) and flush it down the toilet. However it’s no good if you’ve a big family or like to keep the door shut all day. Your cat may not wait!

When you’re thinking on where to put the tray, remember that cats have no problem getting through small gaps or climbing. So look above the floor. Especially if you have toddlers or young children, it may be far safer to put the tray up on a shelf or even inside an open cupboard in the garage.

Let your eyes and nose tell you when to change the tray – every day is ideal. Go outside, if you can, to change the tray. That way, you keep airborne particles that get raked up as you clear up outside your home.

Keep a plant sprayer ready with a mix of five parts water and one part white vinegar. Spray it regularly onto an area your pet mistakes for a bathroom as a deterrent.