Everything You Need to Know About Litter Boxes

If your cat spends any time indoors, chances are you have a litter box. Cats are particularly easy in this regard, since they don’t need to wait for you to let them outside to use the bathroom. They are free to go whenever they want. But have you ever considered why cats can use litter boxes instead of going outside or how they actually work? Here are all your most burning questions on litter boxes answered.

Why Do Cats Use Litter Boxes?

 

A litter box is the closest thing you can get to mimic a cat’s natural bathroom environment. In the wild, cats typically excrete on sand or soft soil. Afterwards, they will bury their business. This has an evolutionary purpose. The scent of urine or excrement can make it easier for predators to track them, so cats bury their waste to hide the smell. The actual litter in the box is a good indoor alternative to sand or soil, since it feels similar. Put at least an inch in the box so your cat can bury his waste.

 

Do You Have to Train a Cat to Use a Litter Box?

Because cats are naturally drawn to sandy environments when they need to use the bathroom, a litter box in the house will be almost instinctual to them. You won’t need to house train your cat to use the litter box the same way you need to housebreak a puppy. Still, you may need to help a new cat or kitten adjust to the litter box. Make sure it’s in an easily accessible but private place that your cat knows how to find. When you first bring a cat home, take her to the box at put her in there. Do this regularly throughout the day when your kitten might normally need to go—first thing in the morning, after meals, after a nap, in the evening—until your cat is regularly using the box.

 

What Kind of Litter Should I Use?

Litter boxes mimic a cat’s natural preferred environment for using the restroom. However, there are many different kinds of litter. What you use comes down to personal preference. Conventional non-clumping clay litter is the most common type of cat litter. It’s absorbent and doesn’t easily track onto the floor. There are also plenty of biodegradable litters available, including wood pellets, recycled newspaper and sawdust. Silica gel or crystal litter is the most absorbent type of litter, and can last up to 30 days when properly cleaned and cared for. It’s also the best litter for preventing odors.

 

Are Litter Boxes Sanitary?

Yes, litter boxes are a simple solution to your cat’s bathroom needs, but many worry that litter boxes aren’t sanitary. As long as you regularly change the litter and keep the box clean, it shouldn’t be an issue. You should be scooping it out daily and changing the litter completely at least once a week. You should wash the box whenever you change out the litter. An automatic, self-cleaning litter box can handle a lot of the daily scooping for you, although you’ll still have to change the litter and clean them. If you’re concerned about your cat dragging litter out of the box, you can get a litter mat to place underneath the box.

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