Litter box maintenance 101

Mar 26, 2012 at 9:28 a.m. ET

Having a house-trained cat means making litter box maintenance a big priority – but it doesn't have to be a big job. SheKnows has the scoop on quick and easy ways to keep your cat's litter box clean and fresh.

woman cuddling cat

Choosing a box

For easier cleanup, select a litter box with a smooth bottom surface, void of ridges where soiled litter can take up residence. You should also have more than one box, even if you only have one cat, so you can space them out in your home.

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Look for either a litter box without a lid or one that is well ventilated. Enclosed boxes can often trap odors, making potty time unpleasant for Mr. Whiskers. And you don't want him searching elsewhere for a nice place to "go."

Tips for tackling the odor from kitty's indoor accidents >>

Placement makes purrrfect

Make sure you select convenient locations for your litter box placement. While you may not want your cat's litter box to be the first thing guests see when they visit your home, you also don't want to hide it in a spot that's inaccessible and will have your cat searching for easier potty places (see tip one…).

It's also a good idea to place a litter mat (or bathmat) underneath kitty's box to catch stray litter, making clean up that much simpler.

Litter likes

When it comes to filling the box with litter, most cat owners agree each cat is unique in the amount he or she prefers. Some enjoy digging a little deeper before doing their thing, while others would rather not waste their time. Start with about two to three inches of litter and adjust accordingly as you discover your new cat's litter likes.

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Choose the right scoop

Scooping your kitty's waste should be done a few times a day. Finding the best scoop is crucial to making sure you get the cleanest results. The slots in the scoop should be wide enough to let clean litter through, but not so big as to let smaller clumps of waste get back into the box.

And remember -- after waste is scooped away, a bit more fresh litter may need to be added to the box.

Clean as a whistle

Whether using non-clumping or clumping litter, kitty's litter box will eventually need a complete wash. How long "eventually" is depends on many things –- including the type of litter used, how often the box is patronized and your own preferences when it comes to cleanliness and odor.

Dispose of the litter in a plastic bag and secure it tightly before tossing it into your garbage bin. Wash the box with mild detergent and water or even a bleach and water solution. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry completely before adding fresh litter.

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