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Attention Cat Owners: Here's How Often You Need to Clean the Litter Box

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As much as we love our kitties, we have to admit that they can sometimes be little stinkers — literally. Every cat owner knows the distinct smell of a feline leaving several "presents" behind in the litter box. But if a cat does his or her business and it doesn't smell too bad, you might be wondering if it's worth the trouble to tidy it up immediately, especially if you know you'll need to clean again soon. So let's address the real question on all of our minds: How often should you clean your cat's litter box, anyway?

According to The Humane Society of the United States, any feces left behind in the litter box should be scooped out daily. However, when it comes to changing the actual litter itself, the rules are a bit more lax. The general guideline for replacing traditional clay litter is twice a week. That said, this rule of thumb can vary based on your specific circumstances. For instance, if you already clean your litter box daily, you might need to change the litter every two or even three weeks. However, if you have tons of cats running around (and thus, tons of litter boxes for them to relieve themselves), you may need to replace litter as often as every other day.

It might be helpful for you to start writing down the specific days and times you last cleaned your litter box or boxes, and when you last changed the actual litter. That way, you can get on a bit more of a schedule. But as we all know, sometimes our kitties don't always follow our human schedules so well. That's probably why The Humane Society suggests that if you notice a strong odor (or if most of the litter is wet and clumped), it's time for a litter change, schedule be darned!

As annoying as it can be to clean a litter box, it's important to keep in mind that the alternative is way worse. As the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explains, virtually all cats need a clean litter box in order to continue doing their business there. If it's not in tip-top shape, your kitty might very well refuse to go in the box at all and then end up leaving a mess on the floor — or your favorite rug — instead. Yikes.

But if you're still finding it too much of a pain to clean your cat's litter box as frequently as he or she needs it done, you might consider buying a self-cleaning litter box to make your life a little easier. A couple popular ones available for purchase online include the Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box ($26.29, Amazon) and the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box ($129.95, Amazon).

Need to relax after cleaning that smelly litter box? Check out these adorably sleepy cats:

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