When you upgrade to a natural litter, you may find that your current scoop doesn’t do the job you need. Natural litters break down differently and are shaped differently than clay litters, so a regularly slotted scoop may not be your best option.
To help you on your quest to make cleaning your litter box as painless as possible, we talked to Greenway Store Lead Katie McMahon. As a cat owner herself, Katie is full of tips to make clean up easy and find the right scoop and litter box for your chosen litter.
KM: When I’m considering litter scoops, I look for one with holes to fit that litter type. Some of our litter is more spherical, so that works better with a scoop with circular holes. For smaller particle litters, the slatted litter scoops work really well. You don’t have to shake a ton, you just dump the litter directly into the waste receptacle. So, I think about how the slats interact with the litter and how easy it is to quickly remove waste.
One thing that I do with pelleted litter is I look for a big scoop with a lot of space for litter to fall through. And when scooping wet litter that doesn’t clump, sometimes you can use a scoop with very narrow slats.
KM: There a few main things I ask when people are looking for a new litter box. First, I want to know where the litter box is going to go. Most people have a place in mind, so we need to find a litter box to fit that spot.
Next is the size of the cat. A big cat needs a bigger litter box. I also consider the age of the cat. Kittens can use a smaller box. And for cats with arthritis, I’m normally concerned with the height of the litter box because that affects the boxes accessibility. I also think about each cat’s temperament. Are they shy? Do they like enclosed spaces? Are they a little more outgoing? The answers to those questions help me determine if they’re more likely to want a closed box or an open one.
I also sometimes ask about the gender of the cat, because male cats are notorious for peeing very high. So, I need a covered box that allows him to pee how he likes to. And I’ll also ask about the health of the kitty. I have a very arthritic cat, so she needs something that’s very easy to get in and out. That means finding a litter box with a lower lip that accommodates her.
Top-loading litter boxes are also really great for people who are in smaller spaces and who want to prevent litter tracking. They work really well for agile cats, who find it easy to hop in and out. It’s also a great solution for younger cats especially because they tend to figure out how to use the box quickly. And it’s a great solution if you have dogs that like to try to snack from the litter box.
KM: Ideally, you’d be scooping out the litter boxes at least once a day and preferably twice a day. It’s easy to miss a day due to crazy work schedules, which is why it’s crucial that you have more than one litter box. And yet, some cats won’t use a litter box that has any waste in there, so staying on top of that can prevent any issues.
Changing out the litter monthly would also be awesome. Sometimes in practice, it can be a little bit difficult. And some heavily used litter boxes may need to be changed every three weeks instead. It’s important that you establish a routine because litter in the box loses its effectiveness over time.
If your cat tolerates them, litter liners can be a great way to make the monthly litter change a little easier. My cats didn’t like them, but if your cat does, they can be a great option.
MB: And what do you recommend for litter box cleaners?
KM: While a lot of people really like to use enzymatic cleaners, I don’t use them. When you use an enzymatic cleaner, you have to let it sit on the litter box for a while for it to be really effective. But there are a lot of people who love them.
I use a cleaner made with a mineral-based deodorizer or I create my own cleaner with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. These cleaners don’t require that you allow it to sit on the plastic; you just spray on the cleaner, wipe down the litter box, and then refill it. Using this type of cleaner allows me to clean all the boxes very quickly and put them back in place.
MB: How much litter should you put in the pan? And does it matter depending on the type of litter involved?
KM: I usually recommend between two and four inches depending on the cat. With clumping litter, closer to two inches works because some kitties really love to dig and flick their litter out of the box. But if you use four inches of clumping litter, it’s very easy to scoop out. But with pelleted litter, cats are less likely to move litter out of the box, so it’s safer to go to three or four inches.
I also consider how often the cat urinates in there. If it’s your cat’s favorite box, you’ll want more litter. Heavier cats need more litter in the box to give them more support, whereas lighter kitties probably won’t need as much depth.
Greenway Store Lead Katie McMahon has been a Muddy for four years and loves helping cat owners find the items that make their cats happy. When she’s not at Mud Bay, she’s hanging out with her two cats and watching Netflix, or hiking and taking photos outdoors.
This post is part of our Just Add Water campaign, which talks about the health benefits of adding moisture-rich foods to your dog or cat’s diet. Both species can significantly benefit from eating wet, raw or other moisture-rich foods in addition to kibble. To learn more about the benefits of moisture in your dog or cat’s diet, talk to a Muddy in one of our stores.