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How often do you change cat Litter boxes ?

by Dr Linda Simon MVB MRCVS, Dec 08, 21
Table Of Contents

New and experienced cat owners often ask me how often to change cat litter. The answer is not completely straightforward and does depend on several factors.

Keeping the litter tray fresh and clean is important. This is true not only so your house doesn’t begin to smell like cat pee, but also to keep your cat happy and healthy.

So read on to learn more about how often you should change your cat litter.

When to change litter depends on these factors

Number of cats

The number of cats in the home has a huge influence over how often the litter will need to be changed. Two cats will create twice the mess, that’s for sure.

Cats dislike sharing resources and most decline to use a tray if another cat has been there first. Even a small used patch can be enough to put them off.

Importantly, if we do not change the litter often enough, you may find your cat finds their own spot to urinate. This may be a patch beside the tray, on a mat or even in a bed. Once this begins to happen, it is a habit that is hard to break.

The more cats in the home, the more regularly you should change the litter.


Cats’ Behaviour 

Your cats’ personality and behaviour will play a role. Some cats aren’t fussed if a tray has already got clumped urine inside. Others are very pernickety, and want a clean litter box each time they use it.

Those kitties who are prone to cystitis and bladder stones will require the most frequent litter changes. When your cat has had previous urinary tract issues, the answer to the question ‘How often to change cat litter?’ changes. These guys need you to be on the ball, removing soiled litter as soon as you see it.

How often do your cats use their litter box? If they’re constantly in and out during the day, you will have to be scooping used litter out more often. A surge in the frequency of urination or the amount of urine passed could indicate a medical issue. If you notice the litter tray is being used more often, speak to your vet.

When your furry friend is unwell, they may have diarrhoea or more frequent poos. In this instance, your general rules for ‘How often to change your cat litter’ go out the window. You need to clean out every loose stool right away. Remember, practice good hygiene and wash your hands with soapy water right after.


Number of boxes  

In a multi-cat household, the rule of thumb is to have 1.5 trays per cat. This means:


Number of Cats

Number of trays












While you will inevitably be spending a lot of your time tending to these trays, it is vital not to skimp on them. Trays should be in areas of the home with low foot traffic, to allow for privacy.

If you have several cats and are concerned you won’t be able to keep up with all of the cleaning, consider investing in some self-cleaning trays.


Type of Litter

Kitty litter can be clumping or non-clumping. Most owners prefer to use clumping litter as you can scoop out the used (‘clumped’) litter on a daily basis. Afterwards, the tray is left relatively clean. For most owners, this means you only need to do a ‘full tray clean’ weekly. This is when the tray is emptied and cleaned thoroughly hot, soapy water and disinfectant. 

When it comes to non-clumping-litter, some of the waste goes to the bottom of the tray after each use. This means you will be doing ‘full tray cleans’ more regularly, perhaps twice a week. After removing all of the old litter, place about 4 inches of cat litter into the fresh tray.


Some cats will have stronger smelling urine. Intact males naturally pass urine with a very strong ammonia-rich smell. Most find they have remove the soiled litter right away, or the scent lingers on.

If you use odour controlling litter, you’re less likely to be bothered by the smell of the tray. This usually means you can go longer in between full tray cleans.

How often you need to change your cat litter will also depend on how sensitive your sense of smell is. Those people who are very sensitive to the smell, will find themselves cleaning out the tray more often than others.

If you detect a change in the smell of your cat’s urine, there may be an issue. A urinary tract infection can lead to foul-smelling urine. Similarly, those who are dehydrated will produce more concentrated and worse smelling urine. In these cases, you will find you need to change the cat litter more often, to keep the room smelling fresh.


We recommended this Scruffy Paws UT Wellness Chews product  

These Scruffy Paws chews are a favourite of cats and they help to keep the urinary system in goof health. They support the bladder lining and prevent bacteria from sticking around. This can reduce the frequency of urinary tract infections, especially in those prone to FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease).


The chicken liver flavour goes down well with even the fussiest cat. Indeed, many look forward to getting their chew, as if it were a treat.

Final Thoughts 

There are no set rules when it comes to how often to change your cat litter. You’ll find it varies from week to week, depending on what your cat has been eating and drinking and how they are feeling. It also varies based on how many cats you have, which litter you use and the overall health of your kitty.

For most owners, they should clean poops and clumped litter away daily, and give the whole tray a thorough clean once a week.


Dr. Linda Simon, BVMS, MRCVS
Veterinary surgeon,
Doctor Linda Simon MVB MRCVS is a locum veterinary surgeon who has worked in London for the past 8 years. She graduated top of her class in small animal medicine from UCD, Dublin. She is currently a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

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