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February 3, 2023 |0 min read |Veterinarian Reviewed

When to Change Cat Litter

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The 3 Indicators To Track

As a new cat owner, you might be wondering when to change cat litter. You don't want to be wasteful and change it too often, but you don't want to leave it too long and be left with an unsavory reminder or an unhealthy environment for your cat.

Curious kitten

Not all cat litter products are made equal, so the "when" and "how often" of changing your litter will depend on your choice between the different types of cat litter on the market. Thankfully, the signs telling you when to change the cat litter are a matter of watching for a few key signs.

These three telltale signs will help you make changing the cat litter a part of your normal routine and more importantly better ensure your cat’s health.

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Watch Out For Quirks and Clumping Cat Litter

Most types of cats make use of the litter box at least twice a day and let's be honest, they can be a little weird about it. Some cats tip-toe into their "sandbox" while some cats are rolling in litter boxes and you are struggling to keep litter in your cat's litter box. And still, some others think it's necessary to start their business by digging through to the other side of the world.

What we're getting at is that different types of cats bring different habits. So the question of “how often should I change the litter?” is, in part, answered by your cat's quirky tendencies.

The mess in the cat's litter box – or around the litter tray, if your cat is a messy pooper or perhaps there’s cat diarrhea in the litter try – tells a particular story. If the majority of the cat litter is clumping together or looking wet — even after you've done your regular scooping — this clumping cat litter may be a sign your cat has used up all its available real estate. It's time to change your kitty litter.

If you're using a cat litter subscription such as PrettyLitter, it will be time to change your kitty litter once all of the crystals have changed color – ideally to a yellow or lime-green color, which indicates normal urine pH.

Since there are various litter types such as paper litter, pine litter, clumping, and non-clumping cat litter, it will be easier for you to determine when to change your cat's litter when there's an indicator feature like PrettyLitter's crystal litter.

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Your Nose Knows

Factors cat owners should consider before changing their cat's litter vary. Your cat might be ill without your realizing and thus using the litter box more frequently. Or maybe you've purchased a brand of kitty litter that doesn't live up to its claims, so your "odor blocking" litter is getting stinky quickly.

More often than not, your nose will tell you when to change the cat litter. Cat waste has a particular smell that becomes quite noticeable when your litter is no longer doing its job.

A healthy nose will catch on quickly and there's no good reason to put up with the urine smell or cat feces. If you're fashioning potpourri pouches into a headband just so you can walk down the hallway, it's time to make a cat litter change.

Also worth noting: Some cat litters use perfumes to mask pet odors, which often compound the bad smells. The ideal cat litter should trap the smell of cat urine and cat feces through absorption, not mask it with a stronger smell.


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Out With The Old, in With The Whew 

Figuring out when to change the cat litter makes for happy cats and pet owners.

Remember: To prevent bacteria and pathogens from building up, wash the cat litter box with each change. A mild detergent is best – preferably a natural litter and without citrus oils or ammonia. Some cat owners use liners or a disposable litter box for ease of dumping solid waste, while others prefer a deeper litter box. Both are more about convenience and your cat's habits, and neither affects the necessity or frequency of changing the cat litter.

We hope these tips give you a better understanding of how often you should change your cat's litter. Tell us how you make this necessary-but-unpleasant chore a bit easier in the comments below!






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Christina Scamporrino

Christina Scamporrino is a lifelong animal lover and began working in the petcare space in 2019. Christina’s passion for the community of feline owners and enthusiasts have led her to designing premium packaging for PrettyLitter cat litter, PrettyPlease dry food, wet food, and treats, and a litter box designed to solve common litter box issues.

Outside of her professional work in the petcare space, Christina is a longtime kitten foster and has worked with several cat rescues throughout Southern California. When given the option, she favors orange cats, but loves all cats equally.


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Geoff DeWire

PrettyLitter's Veterinarian in Chief Dr. Geoff DeWire graduated UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007 where he earned the Pfizer Clinical Achievement Award for Excellence in Veterinary Medicine.