When you start thinking seriously about adopting a cat, your thoughts will undoubtedly shift to regular veterinarian checkups, play time & proper nutrition. However, I'll bet the last thing on your mind is how to manage the cats' business. However, it's one of the most important and overlooked areas of cat ownership. Maintaining a clean, sanitary, and organized area for your cats to relieve themselves means the difference between your cat using the litter box or your new rug. Assuming your cat or kitten is litter box trained, we are going to layout some best practices & items you'll need so this daily chore will be quick and painless.
The first thing you'll need to consider is the type of litter box that you want. There are basically three types here; automatic, plastic traditional, and stainless steel traditional. The automatic litter boxes that are supposed to do all the cleanup for you, look great on paper but I have yet to find one that has great reviews. Customers seem to always complain about reliability, or cost of maintenance. There is even one self cleaning unit out there now that seems like the read deal but its 500 bucks. Plus you need at least two litter boxes in your home even if you only have one cat, so that's $1,000.00 for two of the best automated cat litter boxes! Then there are the plastic litter boxes which are the least expensive option. The issue here though is that the plastic litter box will retain odors & will harbor debris in the scratches and crevices that can form from scraping the litter box with a metal scooper or from the cat's claws. Therefore, the plastic cat restroom can be tough to truly get clean or deodorize so you'll end up throwing them away and buying more in the long run.
If you don't want to to fork over 500-1000 clams for the best automated model and desire a one time litter box purchase, then we recommend a stainless steel litter box. The stainless steel box will not retain odors and is a snap to clean, not to mention never having to worry about it rusting. We recommend the iPrimio Ultimate Stainless Steel Cat XL Litter Box. It's a bit pricey at $45.00, however, its fairly large at 23. 5 inches long by 15. 5 inches wide by 6 inches deep. Our cats love the size and also remember, its stainless steel and will last forever, so we feel its well worth the price.
There are two categories of cat litter you need to be aware of: scented vs non scented and clumping vs non clumping. Non-clumping cat litter is good at removing odors associated with cat urine because it has the ability to absorb relatively large volumes of urine. Some people prefer non-clumping litter because it is often less expensive than clumping litter. The downside is that large pools of urine may accumulate on the bottom of the box so you may have to empty all the litter on each cleaning.
Clumping litter's benefit is that cat poop and urine easily sticks to it, making it easy to scoop the debris out and leave much of the litter behind. It doesn't mean that you never have to empty the clumping cat litter out of the box entirely and clean the box, you should still do that about once a month or more depending on your cat's business frequency. The downside is that even though clumping litter does absorb odor, it doesn't absorb as much as non clumping litter.
Scented vs non scented is really about you and your cat's preference. Be aware though, some cats dislike scented litter and will absolutely not do their business anywhere near it. Obviously you don't want that because then they will find your best rug to relieve themselves on. If your cat does not mind and you prefer a mountain spring scent emanating from your litter box, then by all means go for it.
There are also a few litter material types such as: clay, silica gel crystals, grass, corn and even wood pellets. If you prefer a 100% green solution, you may want to look into grass, corn or wood pellets. Clay is the tried and true material, so if you really desire a green solution you can experiment with the other types of litter, but at the end of the day it's all about what Whiskers prefers.
If you prefer clay, we at Scooper Cleaner recommend: Dr. Elsey's Premium Clumping Cat Litter . What we like about it, is that it is all natural so it does not contain any harmful chemicals & its 99% dust free so its hypo-allergenic for those who suffer from allergies plus it works very well at containing odors. Its available in scented and unscented varieties & you can pick up a 40lb bag for about $19.00.
If you prefer a green litter, we recommend Smart Cat All Natural Clumping litter. This litter consists of 100% USA farmed grass. It is 100% dust free, masks odors & clumps very well plus our two cats took to it immediately. Keep in mind though, because the grass is very light, it will track more outside of your litter box and it is more expensive than clay litter at about $29.00 for 20lbs.
With this tool, you will shovel up litter & sift out your cat's waste. If you like to cook, I'll bet you have a favorite spatula, I know I do. Well, the same goes for the litter scooper. If you try a few of them you'll quickly find they are not all made equal. Luckily, we are here to save you the time & money buying a bunch to find the right one for you. Like litter boxes, there a two materials that scoopers are made of: plastic and metal, generally aluminum. Although the cheapest option, plastic is not the best choice for a couple reasons. For one, it's not as strong. Cat litter can get pretty caked on to the bottom of your litter box & if you have a plastic scooper, it will most likely not scrape effectively and give in. Secondly, plastic is harder to clean and retains odors more readily as opposed to aluminum.
Ok, so we have established that a metal scooper is the way to go. But which one? Here are three that we like.
|Rank||Name||L W H (inches)||Pro||Avg. Price|
|#1||DuraScoop||12.7 x 5.9 x 2.6||Widest & deepest overall. End to end aluminum||$12.99|
|#2||IPRIMIO||13.2 x 5 x 1.8||filters more tiny waste pieces out of litter||$11.79|
|#3||WePet Cat Litter Scoop||14 x 5.5 x 2||Teeth on blade||$9.00|
We have used all three above on a daily basis and overall we feel the DuraScoop Jumbo Cat Litter Scoop gets the job done in the most efficient manner because of its size and all metal construction. It's a very solid but light weight scooper that powers through the caked on waste on the bottom of the box and allows you to sift large amounts of litter very quickly. That being said, the IPRIMIO is a solid runner up because of its narrow forks & its ability to filter even the smallest pieces of waste out of the litter box. For that reason, we will use the IPRIMIO scooper once or twice a week as well, to filter out any smaller pieces of waste the DuraScoop might have missed, to keep our box as clean as possible.
Cat Litter Mat
When your kitty is done with his business there will undoubtedly be litter stuck to his paws. This litter will then get tracked everywhere outside the box within 5 - 10 feet or so. You cannot avoid this all together but you can certainly minimize it. That's where a cat litter mat comes in. The mat is placed underneath the box and when your cat steps out after they are finished, ideally they land on the mat first, where some of the litter will shake loose. The bigger you can go here, the better. There are a couple types that work well. The first is the Gorilla Grip Original Premium Durable Cat Litter Mat (35" x 23" or 47" x 35"). It consists of a sticky, soft mesh type material where the idea is that litter will stick to it and then you vacuum it off the mat. Your cat may prefer stepping on this mat because it is soft, on the downside they also may turn it into swiss cheese with their claws if the mood strikes them. The other mat we recommend is the Pieviev Cat Litter Mat Litter Trapping Mat (30 x 24). This mat is constructed from a plastic, phthalate free material that employs a honeycomb design where the litter falls through and is trapped in a pocket. Then you can simply empty the trapped litter back into your litter box. In summary, the Gorilla Grip mat comes in a larger size and is softer but the Pieviev mat is a far easier cleanup. The choice is up to you.Because your cat will inevitably track at least some litter across your floors, it's a good idea to keep a cordless vacuum on hand for rapid cleanup. We have been using the
Eureka RapidClean Pro. It sucks up cat litter with ease and it features:
light on the front
40 minutes of runtime
cinch to clean.
Once you have a sifted scoopful of cat waste you are going to want to dispose of it and get ready for your next scoopful. You don't want to waste a full trash bag or empty the debris directly into the trash. So you'll need a pack of pet waste bags. We use the Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags. Yep, you can use them for cats too! They are wide enough to fit any of the scoopers we recommend, very strong, leak proof, keep the smell in fairly well, plus they even use recycled materials in their packaging. After use, you should throw them in the outside trash but if you have to throw the bag into your inside garbage container, double bag it & they will keep the smell in until the end of the day when you can take the trash out. They'll run you about $12.00 for 270 bags.
Putting It All Together
Now that you have everything you need, let's talk about best practices.
Number Of Boxes & Location
Your cat should feel secure when they are in a vulnerable position such as when they are doing their business. It's best to place your box in a social, easily accessible, low traffic area away from their food and water. The key word here is "social". Do not hide your litter box away in a dark garage or in a piece of furniture. We realize that not seeing the litter box may be better for you but its not better for your furry buddy. You should have at least one box for each cat that you have, but do not place them next to each other. Also if you have multiple floors, place a box on each level of your home that your cat has access to. You can read more about litter box location here.
First, place your mat underneath your chosen litter box. You should fill your litter box with about 2 inches of litter. Cats love to dig and bury their waste so that should give them enough depth to work with. If you find that’s not enough you can always add more.
Clean It Up!
Ok, you now have the best possible setup for your kitty and it resulted in some serious poop and pee in their litter box. Using your scooper of choice & a waste bag, start picking up scoopfuls of litter. I like to shake the scooper from side to side to quickly sift the litter to expose the clumps of waste. Dump each scoopful of waste into your bag. Then grab another scoopful. This is important: be sure to then scrape the bottom of the box with your scooper. Remember, cats like to dig straight to the bottom, do their business, then bury it so there will certainly be waste stuck to the bed of the litter box.
After scraping the bottom of the box there will most times be caked-on waste now stuck to your scooper. It will not simply be shaken off into your waste bag. This unfortunately, is one downside to ALL litter scoopers, even the ones that say "non-stick". Cat waste sticks to all of them. Now, you could use a paper towel or throw-away rag to get it off but that ends up being very messy and in the end, doesn't get the all the waste out from between the forks or holes in your scooper. We recommend the stainless steel bladed Scooper Cleaner for this purpose. Hold your Scooper Cleaner parallel to the litter scooper and use the teeth to get the residue out from between the forks. If you can't reach the debris by running the scooper cleaner's teeth on one side of your scooper, then flip it over and repeat. Next, shave the litter scooper's scraping edge using the surface between two of the Scooper Cleaner's teeth. Finally, any other caked on debris that cannot be removed with the scooper cleaner's teeth, can be with either straight edged side of the Scooper Cleaner. When you are peeling off waste from your litter scooper with the Scooper Cleaner, let if fall back into the litter box. This way, kitty litter will encase it. Then you can simply scoop it up and put it in your handy waste bag.
TIP: If any litter debris remains on your Scooper Cleaner, play the Scooper Cleaner and your litter scooper off of each other until the piece falls into the litter. Check out our demo video if you need further assistance: Scooper Cleaner Demo Video
At the end of your cleanup, you will have a full waste bag plus a litter scooper & Scooper Cleaner that need to be wiped clean. You should double knot and dispose of your bag in an outside receptacle. If you cannot place it outside for whatever reason until a later time, again, we recommend double bagging before throwing it into your inside trash. This way, in case your forget to put your trash out for a while, the bag's aroma won't emanate throughout your home. Now all you need to do is clean off your litter scooper and Scooper Cleaner with a disinfectant wipe which will be very easy after using your Scooper Cleaner .
Now you are done! Be sure to clean the litter box at least once a day and more if you have multiple cats to ensure a clean home and a happy cat.