How Often to Change Cat Litter: Quick Guide by Type

Christy Caplan
kitten scratching his litter box

How often to change cat litter depends on the number of cats you live with and the litter type. If you spot clean the box daily, you may only need to change clumping litter every two to three weeks. If you scoop crystal litter daily, pet parents may only need to add this cleaning task to the schedule once a month.

How Often to Change Cat Litter

New pet parents may need to know how often to change the litter box, which depends on the type of litter you decide to use. There are many choices and different rules for each type of litter.

Scoop Feces Daily

Cat lovers need to check and scoop the litter box daily. How often pet parents scoop may dictate when to replace the litter. Cats enjoy a fresh litter box, and every pet parent needs to check at least once a day. What if there is diarrhea in the litter box or no poop at all? You may need to take a cat to the vet if you notice a possible health issue.

Clumping Litter

Clumping litter is designed with a material known as bentonite. This component allows the litter to form a nice clump as the material absorbs liquid. You scoop out the poop and leave the clean box behind.

  • If you scoop daily, you may get away with cleaning the box less often.
  • With that in mind, if you notice an odor or if the litter is wet, it is time to swap out the old litter.
  • Keep the box tidy and change clumping litter at least twice a month.
  • Each time you scoop, pet parents need to add a little fresh litter. The rule is to replace as much as you remove. You do not need to add an entire bag each time you scoop.
Clumping cat litter

Non-Clumping Litter

Non-clumping litter typically consists of clay and some plant-based alternatives. A general rule of thumb is to replace clay litter at least once a week, but depending on the number of cats in your home, pet parents may need to replace it every other day. It is challenging to remove soiled non-clumping litter without changing the entire box.

Non-Clumping litter

Crystal Litter

Crystal litter absorbs so much moisture it only needs to be changed at least once a month for one cat and every two weeks for two felines. As long as pet parents scoop daily, the cleaning schedule is much longer than with clumping or non-clumping litter. The silica used in crystal litter is for cat toilets. This litter is highly absorbent.

Crystal litter

Scrub the Litter Box

Scrub the box every time you change the litter. Use mild dish detergent to clean it, as products with ammonia or citrus oils may turn a cat off, and some cleaning products are toxic to cats.

Types of Cat Litter From A to Z

The different types may be clumping or non-clumping and impact how often the litter is changed.

Grass

Grass-based litter may control odor and clumps. SmartCat is an excellent grass-based option for pet parents. This litter is dust-free, lightweight, biodegradable, and chemical-free. This formula is clumping litter, so change the box at least twice a month.

Pine Litter Chip

This wood-based litter comes in clumping and non-clumping formulas. The litter is flushable, scoopable, and biodegradable. With that in mind, it may not be a wise idea to flush this material if you use a septic system. The non-clumping litter formula may allow pet parents to save some money. How often you change the box depends on the type you purchase.

Pine Pellets

Pine pellets break down from urine over time. You scoop the solid waste after the material breaks down. When the pellets turn to dust, replace your litter. Typically you change the litter every one to two weeks, depending on your cats. When the pellets break down, the entire box needs a new bag of litter.

Paper

Paper is an inexpensive litter and needs to be changed often. This option is slightly more intense for pet parents, but brands offer an approachable price point for an environmentally friendly option. Paper litter does not clump and stays wet in the box, so cat lovers need to scoop daily. Okocat's paper litter is popular with cat owners.

Corn

Corn litter requires regular scooping and is sustainable, biodegradable, and flushable. This litter type is more expensive and does track in the house.

Nut-Based

This litter is environmentally friendly and uses naturally produced waste byproducts. Nut-based litters frequently are a dark brown color, which makes noticing changes in waste more difficult. Many walnut litters need to be changed often so pet parents know if a kitty is healthy or sick.

Clay

Clay clumps and helps with odor. Yet clay litters are not biodegradable, flushable, and ecologically friendly. This litter is inexpensive and readily available. Clay litter needs to be changed at least twice a week.

Crystal

The crystals trap odor and eliminate moisture. Crystal litter absorbs so much moisture it only needs to be changed monthly. Many pet parents like this option as it's entirely non-toxic and low-maintenance.

Keep the Litter Box Clean

Cats prefer a clean box. Many pet parents may purchase non-clumping litter as it is the least expensive option. With that in mind, it is more important to let your cat decide the texture and litter he prefers. Cat lovers must clean the box once a day, which is a best practice regardless of litter type. Read the instructions and follow the instructions on the bag closely for a happy cat.

Always check with your city on what the code is for flushing pet waste. The only litter you can't flush is clay.

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How Often to Change Cat Litter: Quick Guide by Type