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How long does cat litter last?

Most cats use litterboxes. This provides them with a suitable place to use the bathroom. Dog owners, who must take their dogs out to do their business come rain or shine, often look at litterboxes with a mixture of envy and distrust. It seems so much easier, but is it really?

In general, yes. It’s much easier for a cat to use a litter box than to be sure they are outside any time they need to go. However, litterboxes do require some work. They must be changed. Pet owners often ask how long cat litter lasts, so they can be prepared. 

How long does cat litter last?

How long cat litter lasts varies depending on the type of litter, how many cats are in the house, and how large a bag of litter you purchase. 

How Many Boxes Do You Need? 

The rule of thumb is that it’s best to have one more litter box than the amount of cats you have. So, if you have one cat, it’s recommended to have two litterboxes. This can add to the amount of litter you need. 

If you have two cats, you should have three litterboxes. You’ll find that the amount of litter doesn’t increase exponentially with more boxes, because the waste is distributed between the boxes. This means you will have to change more boxes, but they can be changed less often than if you only had one box. 

How Much Litter Will You Need? 

The general guideline is that you will need 7 to 10 pounds of clumping litter per week. If you use nonclumping litter, you’ll need at least 15 pounds per week. Paper litter requires the largest amount, at 25 or more pounds per week. 

Keep in mind, these numbers are for one cat and one litterbox. If you provide one cat with two litterboxes, your needs may increase by 25-50%, depending on how often you change the litter. 

If you have more than one cat, you’ll need to multiply the amount of litter by the number of cats you have. If you have two cats using clumping litter, for example, you can expect to use at least 15 pounds of clumping litter each week. 

Special Considerations

There are variations to these basic guidelines. Kittens will only need 5-7 pounds of clumping litter a week. Very large cats can exceed 10 pounds of litter a week. This is because the larger they are, the larger their deposits will be.

Larger deposits are going to require more scooping and changing the litter. Cats with urinary problems can go through 10-15 pounds of clumping litter each week. This is because they pee more than healthy cats. Again, the litter must be scooped and changed more often. 

How Long Will My Bag of Litter Last? 

Once you know how much litter you need per week, you can determine how long your bag will last. If you have one cat using 10 pounds of litter per week, a 20 pound bag of litter will last two weeks. 

A 40 pound bag would last an entire month in a one cat household, while it will only last two weeks in a two-cat household. 

It’s important to note that some litters will last longer than others. Even two clumping or non-clumping litters are not created exactly equal. Some require changing more frequently than others, which requires more litter. 

The size of the litterbox and how much you fill it also make a difference. Experts recommend filling the pan with 2 to 3 inches of litter. Deeper litter can be hard to scoop, and much of it can end up outside the litterbox. 

How often should you change cat litter?

How often to change your cat’s litter will vary based on several factors. The biggest factors are the type of litter, and the number of cats and boxes you have. 

Clumping Litter

Clumping litter should be scooped daily. If you have one cat, you should change the litter monthly. If you have multiple cats but multiple boxes, changing them monthly should be enough. 

You will need to add more litter about once a week, to replace what was removed during scooping. 

Non-Clumping Litter

If you have one cat, non-clumping litter will need to be changed once every 1-2 weeks. If you have multiple cats using the same box, you may need ot change it every other day. If they use multiple boxes, once a week may be enough. 

How to Scoop Litter 

If you have clumping litter, you will need to scoop it once daily. The pee and poop are absorbed by the litter. The soiled litter turns into clumps for easy removal. You can use a slotted spoon, or a small metal trowel. 

If you find the clumps get stuck to the bottom of the box, a metal trowel will allow you to easily scrape and scoop. Most cat owners will shake the scoop to remove excess litter. However, this can allow soiled litter to go back into the box. It also releases litterbox dust into the air.  It’s best to toss the clumps without shaking. 

Once you’ve scooped up a clump, place it in a plastic bag. Poop scoop bags are excellent for this. Repeat the process, placing the clumps into the bag until they are all removed. Tie the bag and dispose of it. You can toss it in your trash can, but it’s best to dispose of it in the outdoor trash bin. 

How to Clean a Litter Box

No matter what type of litter you have, you’ll need to clean the litter box. This means emptying the litter from the box, cleaning the box, and refilling the litter. 

Get a trash bag, and place it over one end of the litter box. Tip the box up, pouring the litter into the bag. Use your scrooper or other tool to scrape any remaining litter from the box. If you have a litterbox liner, toss this in the trash as well. 

You can also use a trash can, and dump the contents of the box into the trash can. 

Regardless of the method you use, the bag should be sealed and removed from the home once all the litter is in the bag. Place it in your outside trash bin. 

Next, you’ll need to wash the litterbox with soap and water. Wash any tools you used as well. Dry the litterbox completely before refilling. 

Refill with fresh litter. The litter should be at least 2 inches deep. Typically more than 3 inches is too much.

When to Change the Litter

There are two indications it’s time to change your cat’s litter. Your nose and your cat are the best guidelines to when the box should be changed. 

If you notice an odor coming from the box, it’s time to change the litter. Clumping litter may have a lot of clumps in it, indicating that you should change it. 

By far the best indication it’s time to change the box is your cat. If the box is too dirty, they won’t use it. Of course, this leaves them two options. Either go somewhere else, or hold it. Going somewhere else means soiling the home, which you won’t be happy about.

Holding it can quickly lead to utis, which can be serious for cats. There’s also a limit to how long they can hold it, so it often still results in unwanted house soiling. 

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until your cat goes outside the litterbox to change it. Instead, watch your cat’s behavior with the box. Have you noticed they haven’t visited it as frequently as normal?  Does the box appear dirty? Does it smell? Is your cat hanging out by the box meowing at you? These are all signs that it’s probably time to change the litter.

If you have multiple boxes, you’ll get another clue. Cats nearly always prefer one box over the other. It may be the location of the box, or the box itself. if you have multiple boxes, you’ll soon know which one they prefer. 

If they begin using the one they don’t prefer, check the other box. It may be dirty. If their preferred box is dirty, they will naturally go to the other box. 

You may have done the same thing before. Have you ever went into a public bathroom stall, only to come right back out again? You probably picked a different stall. One that was cleaner. 

Does cat litter ever go bad?

No, cat litter doesn’t go bad, as long as its stored properly. Traditional clay or sand based litter can be kept indefinitely. If it’s scented, the scent may dissipate over time, but the litter will still be effective. 

However, some eco friendly litters do have an expiration date. After this date, they begin to lose their effectiveness. It won’t be harmful to you or your cat the way expired food can be, so it’s safe to use. If it’s not effective, you’ll need to get new litter. 

The key to keeping litter effective is to keep it dry. It’s designed to absorb moisture. If it’s stored in a moist environment, it can clump and become unusable.